The Legal Services Authorities Act,1987 though passed on the 11th of October, 1987 came in full force on 9th November, 1995. Like most other Acts, it applies to all other states except Jammu and Kashmir.The main aim of this act is to provide weaker sections of society such as, any person who is socially, physically, or economically backward with free and competent legal services in order to ensure that no person is deprived of justice. For this purpose legal authorities are established. It also aims at organizing LokAdalats to guarantee that justice is promoted by the legal system and its operations on the basis of equality of opportunity.
Under this Act, at the central level there should be a Central Legal Services Authority. It should also have a committee called the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. A State Legal Services Authority should be set up at every state and a District Legal Service at every district level. The State Authority may also constitute a Taluk Legal Services Authority for each Taluk or Mandal or for a group of Taluks or Mandals. The main aim of these Authorities is to provide legal service, organize LokAdalats at their respective levels, and perform any such functions as delegated to them by the upper level Authority.
There are certain criteria as to who all can file or defend a case under this Act. That is he/she should come under the Schedule Cate or Schedule Tribe category, a victim in human trafficking or beggar, a woman or a child, a person with a disability, an industrial workman, a person who is in custody or a person earning less than nine thousand rupees a year.
The first Legal Aid Movement was in 1852, where some enactment was passed in France. In Britain, Lord Chancellor Viscount Simon appointed Rushcliffe Committee with the aim of providing legal service to the poor and downtrodden. It was in 1952 that the Government of India first addressed the problem of justice not being easily available to all and the need for legal aid. A Committee was formed in the chairmanship of Justice P. N. Bhagwati known as Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes (CILAS).
Justice P. N. Bhagwati aimed at making the missionary of administration of justice easily available to the lowest of low strata of society. The poor and the illiterate who don’t have access to the courts should also get justice, overlooking their ignorance and poverty. Article 39A of the Constitution provides that the operation of the legal system shall be in such a manner so as to provide equal opportunity to procure justice, that free legal aid will be provided and to ensure that justice is not denied to any person economically backward or disabled. Also according to Article 14 and 22(1) it is the obligation of the state to guarantee equality before law and an equal opportunity for justice to all.
Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer also contributed to the development of Legal Aid. He spoke about the need for widespread legal aid system so that law reaches the people and not the people having to reach the law.
The Legal Services Authority was amended twice. First in the year 1994, and then again in 2002. The main alteration was that the concept of a Permanent LokAdalath was brought in. As per this amendment, every State Authority should also set up a Permanent LokAdalath, and their aim is to perform Public Utility Services. These include transport service for passengers or goods by air water or road; postal, telegraph or telephonic services; supply of power, light or water to the public by a particular establishment; system of public conservancy or sanitation; service in a hospital or dispensary; and finally insurance service. Before filing a suit before any court, the applicant may first try to solve the problem through these Authorities.
Hence, so much is being done to provide justice to every citizen rich or poor, in the country. Every citizen should come forward and make use of such opportunity to its fullest. Also it is necessary that every person is aware of such services available to them.