Author:  Md.Sameer Ul Ain,

                a student at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU)   


In this Article I tried to peek into the importance of legal aid in judicial perspective. It’s historical development and its incorporation into justice systems of various jurisdictions by analyzing landmark cases and legislative enactments. I tried to illustrate how legal aid became fundamental right for individuals facing financial limitations, ensuring economic inequalities does not impede in their access to legal representation. The main theme of legal aid is to give people access to justice who cannot afford legal representation or assistance. The importance and influence of legal assistance in advancing a equitable legal system are examined in this project. It examines the historical of legal assistance, from its early beginnings to its contemporary presence in global scale. 

Article 39A of the Indian constitution requires the state to offer free legal assistance to ensure that no citizen is denied the opportunity to obtain justice due to a financial or other disability as a result the government of India is required by the constitution to grant legal aid to people who cannot afford legal representation.

                                    TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1.        Abstract…………………………………………………………………………

  2.        Introduction…………………………………………………………………….

  3.        Historical development of legal aid……………………………………………

  4.        Legal aid in India: statutory recognition……………………………………..…

  5.        Free legal aid in India: positive contribution of judiciary-case study’s…………

  6.        Technological enhancements in legal aid………………………………………  

  7.        Tech- Legal aid programmes …………………………………………………..

  9. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………


In the common meaning, legal aid refers to the assistance provided by society to its weaker members while they fight to uphold the rights and liberties that the law has granted them. Justice P.N. Bhagwati launched the first legal assistance programme through the legal aid committee established in 1971. According to Justice P.N. Bhagwati. Legal assistance is the provision of a social arrangement that makes the systems of administration of justice more easily reachable and available to individuals who need to use them to pursue the legal rights that are owed to them. According to Pollock, legal assistance is a tool that the impoverished can use to obtain the justice they would otherwise be denied of and to uphold their human rights.

Historical development of legal aid.

“Starting in 1952, the Indian government started discussing the question of legal assistance for the disadvantaged in meetings of law ministers and law commissioners. In 1960, the government established a few rules regarding legal aid. In different states, legal assistance schemes were given through legal aid boards, associations, and law departments. In 1980, a national committee was formed to oversee and coordinate legal aid initiatives all around the country. Honourable Justice P.N. Bhagwati, who was at the time a judge on the Indian Supreme Court, served as its chairman. The group responsible for executing legal assistance programmes became known as CILAS. It began keeping an eye on the nation’s legal assistance efforts.”

To provide legal assistance programme across the nation with a statutory foundation and a standardized structure the legal services authority act was passed in the year 1987. After the amendment of act of 1994 introduced some revisions, this act was eventually put into effect on November 9th, 1995.  

Legal aid in India: Statutory recognition

“The ability of the impoverished to obtain judicial redress for their problems was not significantly impacted despite the existence of a statutory system offering free legal assistance by designating the advocate for defending criminal cases and by exempting court fees in civil matters. Thus, the Indian parliament approved the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987. The law specifies the requirements for providing legal services to those who qualify. A person meets the requirements of the legislation if he or she is – 

  1. A victim of human trafficking or beggar as referred in article 23 of constitution.
  2. A woman or a child.
  3. A member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe.
  4. An industrial workman.
  5. A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person.
  6. A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, flood drought earthquake.
  7. A person in a psychiatric hospital or nursing home.
  8. A person whose annual income is less than rupees fifty thousand or such other amount as may be prescribed by the state government.
  9. A person in custody in a protective home or juvenile home.

Limitation as to the income does not apply in case of persons belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, children, handicapped, etc. Thus by this the Indian parliament took a step forward in making the legal aid possible in the country.”                                                                                                             Legal services authorities after examining the eligibility criteria of an applicant and the existence of prima facie case in his favour provide him counsel at state expense, pays the required court fee in the matter and bear all the incidental expenses in connection with the case. 

Free legal aid in India: positive contribution of judiciary- case study 

“The Hussainara Khatoon ruling provided the supreme court of India with a crucial chance to express its views on the rights of the underprivileged. According to the petitioner, most of the defendants who are now on trial have already got significantly heavier sentences than they would have if they had been found guilty right away. The delay was brought on by the parties’ inability to afford a lawyer to represent them in court, with their poverty serving as the primary impediment. Thus in this case the court pointed out that Article-39A emphasized that free legal aid was an inalienable element of reasonable, fair and just procedure and that the right to free legal services was implicit in Article-21 of the constitution.”

“Two years later, in the case of Khatri v. State of Bihar, the court addressed the question of the impoverished or indigent’s entitlement to free legal assistance. In that case, the court ruled that the state is constitutionally required to provide legal assistance to accused who are unable to hire an attorney, including when they are first brought before the magistrate or periodically remanded. This right cannot be denied due to financial limitations, administrative difficulties, 

or the fact that the accused did not request it. Magistrates and session judges are required to explain these rights to them.”

“National Legal Service Authority regulations, 2010, were created by the NALSA in order to offer competent and free legal assistance. The key element of this rule is the engagement of senior, qualified solicitors upon payment of regular fees in unique situations, such as when a person’s life or freedom is in danger.

Technological enhancements in legal aid

Technological innovations in India are revolutionizing legal aid by reducing costs, saving time for lawyers, and providing free and reliable online information to empower individuals. Virtual gatherings eliminate the need for physical travel, benefiting those in rural areas without easy access to legal assistance. Websites offering free legal education and assistance are increasingly user-friendly, incorporating monitored chat systems for personalized advice. Legal technology is digitizing service delivery, enhancing lawyer-client communication, automating tasks, and increasing transparency. Artificial intelligence (AI) holds potential in legal procedures, aiding in case preparation and decision-making. Supreme Court Justice D.Y. Chandrachud advocates for a balanced integration of technology and human intervention to enhance the efficiency of the legal system. He emphasizes the need for adaptation to technological demands, highlighting that technology should bring transformation rather than mere automation.

Tech- legal aid programmes

  •  SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS                                                                              

                                                                                                                                       On social media sites like Instagram and facebook there are various sites which           provide content about the various law available for the protection of people from various exploitative practices. For example these pages advice the readers about the actions they should take if they are exploited by a shopkeeper or manufacturer. Additionally there is a platform called youtube where content creators publish in-depth information about law and its evolution.


Creating online educational platforms that offers free legal courses and work shops enables the individuals to get better understanding of their legal rights and responsibilities.


The internet and technology have developed into a place full of reliable knowledge which is accessible to a wide range of people. These blogs offer further details about a number of topics such as who to contact if you have concerns and how to get justice.


Today the internet is able to give contacts of  lawyers, legal firms, and advocates those who are interested, along with reviews based on thousand of people who have showed interest in their work. Thus, this facilitates the creation of a convenient environment by decreasing the time spent searching through their phone records or asking various people for advice on the matter.


The public is informed in real time about court hearings through a variety of media platforms through court room broadcasting often referred to as ‘courtroom broadcasting’ or ‘open court broadcasting’ in recent years this practice had been spread widely as technology is advanced and public’s interest in legal issues has grown.


In conclusion, of this study we can clearly observe how important legal assistance is to ensure that everyone is society regardless of their socio-economic status and education has access to justice. By promoting equality before the law and supporting the fundamentals of an equitable legal system legal aid acts as an important tool for bridging the gap between those who can attain legal assistance by hiring a lawyer and those who cannot.

We have been able to observe the progression of legal aid from a small and regional idea to global movements that works to upholds people’s rights and liberty’s all around the world by exploring its historical statutory recognition. Moreover legal aid has been proven to be instrumental in reducing the burden on the courts and promoting timely access to justice.

In my opinion legal aid not only a beneficial service but also a fundamental right that every person must be entitled and accessible.

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