KERALA STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY KERALA STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY                      High Court Buildings, Kochi - 682 031
:: Home :: Members :: Kerala High Court Legal Services Committee :: Programmes, Schemes and Services ::
:: District Legal Services Authorities :: Taluk Legal Services Committees :: Accredited Organisations ::
::
Act :: Rules, Regulations :: Notifications :: Sitemap ::
 

 

Act

THE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987

Received the assent of the President on Oct.11, 1987 and published in the Gazette of India, Extra., Pt.II, S.I. dt.Oct.12, 1987, PP.1-12

(Central Act 39 of 1987)
(Act No.39 of 1987, dated 11.10.1987

As Amended by Legal Services Authorities
(Amendment) Act , 2002
Assented on 11.6.2002)

An Act to constitute legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Thirty-eighth Year of the Republic of India as follows:-

 

CHAPTER I

PRELIMINARY

  1. Short title, extent and commencement:- 

    1. This Act may be called the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

    2. It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

    3. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification, appoint; and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act and for different States, and any reference to commencement in any provision of this Act in relation to any State shall be construed as a reference to the commencement of that provision in that State.

       

      NOTES

      STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

      1. Article 39 A of the Constitution provides that the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

      2. With the object of providing free legal aid, Government had, by Resolution dated the 26th September, 1980 appointed the “Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes. (CILAS) under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice P. N. Bhagwati (as he then was) to monitor and implement legal aid programmes on a uniform basis in all the States and Union territories. CILAS evolved a model scheme for legal aid programme applicable throughout the country by which several legal aid and advice Boards have been set up in the States and Union territories. CILAS is funded wholly by grants from the Central Government. The Government is accordingly concerned with the programmes of legal aid as it is the implementation of a constitutional mandate. But on a review of the working of the CILAS, certain deficiencies have to come to the fore. It is, therefore, felt that it will be desirable to constitute statutory legal service authorities at the National, State and District levels so as to provide for the effective monitoring of legal aid programmes. The Bill provides for the composition of such authorities and for the funding of these authorities by means of grants from the Central Government and the State Governments. Power has also been given to the National Committee and the State Committees to supervise the effective implementation of legal aid schemes.

      3. For some time now, Lok Adalats are being constituted at various places in the country for the disposal, in a summary way and through the process of arbitration and settlement between the parties, of a large number of cases expeditiously and with lesser costs. The institution of Lok Adalats is at present functioning as a voluntary and conciliatory agency without any statutory backing for its decisions. It has proved to be very popular in providing for a speedier system of administration of justice. In view of its growing popularity, there has been a demand for providing a statutory backing to this institution and the awards given by Lok Adalats. It is felt that such a statutory support would not only reduce the burden of arrears of work in regular courts, but would also take justice to the door-steps of the poor and the needy and make justice quicker and less expensive.

      4. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.

      TOP

      COMMENCEMENT OF ACT

      The Legal Services Authorities Bill, 1987, which was passed by both the Houses of Parliament, received the assent of the President on 11th October, 1987 and soon thereafter became an Act of Parliament under the short titles “The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987” (39 of 1987).

      The Act except chapter III came into force in the whole of India with effect from 9.11.1995 by Notn. No. S.O. 893(E) dated 9.11.1995. Chapter III of the Act came into force in the State of Kerala with effect from 6.2.1998 by S.O. 107 (E) dated, 6.2.1998

       

      THE ACT HAS BEEN AMENDED BY:-

      1. The Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act, 1994 (59 of 1994).

      2. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act, 1995 (1 of 1996).

      3. The Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act, 2002 (37 of 2002..)

      Regarding the implementation of the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act the Supreme Court issued following directions in the order dated 18.8.1998 in W.P.(CRL) 312 of 1994:

      In this matter, after passing numerous interim orders and after adjourning the case from time to time to enable the concerned Authorities to implement the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, it is now reported that almost all the States have substantially complied with the implementation of the Act. In view of that, no further action is necessary except to consider the directions as prayed for in the Writ Petition, which reads as follows:-

      “Issue appropriate writs, orders or directions in the nature of mandamus to each of the Respondents directing

      1. that they will, by issuing administrative orders/instructions ensure that every prisoner/convict is provided with free copy of the judgment of the Sessions Court or the High Court in her/his case or matter within 30 days of the pronouncement of such judgment and that the Registry of the Court concerned will personally endorse such copy to the Superintendent of the Jail for forwarding the same to the petitioner;

      2. the Superintendent of the Jail concerned to ensure that the judgment of the Sessions Court or the High Court, as the case may be, is read out to the prisoner and explained to him in the language as understood by him;

      3. that the prisoner will be informed by the superintendent of every jail about the availability of legal aid in the High Courts and the Supreme Court and be asked whether he is desirous of exercising his constitutional right to avail of legal aid;

      4. that every jail will have to provide at the cost of the State Exchequer copy of Vakalatnama, proforma Affidavit in the form as required by the respective High Courts and the Supreme Court for being signed by the prisoner immediately upon expressing his intention to avail of legal aid;

      5. that the Superintendent of the Jail will ensure that complete papers/records of the case are sent to the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee or the High Court Legal Aid Committee along with the signed Vakalatnama and Affidavit of the prisoner forthwith by registered post at the cost of State Exchequer and that if there is any delay in forwarding the papers, the reasons for forwarding the papers belatedly will accompany such papers.

      6. That where the judgment of the Sessions Court and the High Court is in a language other than English, the Superintendent of the Jail will at State’s cost arrange to have the same translated before sending the papers to the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee or the High Court Legal Aid Committee, as the case may be”.

        The learned counsel appearing for various States submitted that no expresses direction is necessary as these directions are implied in the implementation of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. None the less, the counsel appearing for various States have no objection to orders the above prayer for directions.

        Accordingly, we allow the prayer for directions as sought in the Writ Petition. The respondents shall take immediate steps to carry out the above directions. The reference in the prayer for direction to “Legal Aid Committee” must be taken to means and refer to the corresponding body now functioning.

        In view of the above, this petition will stand disposed of accordingly.
        (Supreme Court Legal Services Committee v. Union of India, 1998 (5) SCALE (SP) 19.)

        The right to legal aid has become almost like a fundamental right. It is an important right backed by Constitution and Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted translating the spirit of Article 39-A. Legal aid is not merely a right of the needy and the deserving but is correspondingly, duty of the authority to make it available to the needy and deserving. (L. L. Vghasia v. State of Gujarat, 1999 (2) KLT SN. 36.)

        TOP

  2. Definitions:-

    1. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires;

      (Subs. by Act 59 of 1994, S.2)[(a) “Case” includes a suit or any proceeding before a court;
      (aa) “Central Authority” means the National Legal Services Authority constituted under Section 3;
      (aaa) “ Court” means a civil, criminal or revenue court and includes any tribunal or any other authority constituted under any law for the time being in force, to exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions;]

      (b) “District Authority” means a District Legal Services Authority constituted under Section 9;
      (Ins. By Act 59 of 1994, S.2)[(bb) “ High Court Legal Services Committee” means a High Court Legal Services Committee constituted under Section 8 A]

      (c) “legal service” includes the rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter;

      (d) “Lok Adalat” means a Lok Adalat organized under Chapter VI;

      (e) “notification” means a notification published in the Official Gazette;

      (f) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
      (ff) (Ins. by Act 59 of 1994, S.2)[ “ regulations” means regulations made under this Act;]

      (g) “Scheme” means any scheme framed by the Central Authority, a State Authority or a District Authority for the purpose of giving effect to any of the provisions of this Act;

      (h) “State Authority” means a State Legal Services Authority constituted under Section 6;

      (i) “State Government” includes the administrator of a Union Territory appointed by the President under Article 239 of the Constitution;

      (j) (Ins. by Act 59 of 1994, S.2) [“Supreme Court Legal Services Committee” means the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee constituted under section 3-A;

      (k) “Taluk Legal Services Committee” means a Taluk Legal Services Committee constituted under section 11-A.

    2. Any reference in this Act to any other enactment or any provision thereof shall, in relation to an area in which such enactment or provision is not in force, be construed as a reference to the corresponding law or the relevant provision of the corresponding law, if any, in force in that area.

 



TOP

CHAPTER II

THE NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY

  1. Constitution of National Legal Services Authority:-  (Sub. By Act 59 of 1994, S.3)

    1. The Central Government shall constitute a body to be called the National Legal Services Authority to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on, or assigned to, the Central Authority under this Act.

    2. The Central Authority shall consist of -

      1. the Chief Justice of India who shall be Patron-in-Chief;

      2. a serving or retired Judge of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the President, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, who shall be the Executive Chairman; and

      3. such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed by the Central Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

    3. The Central Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India appoint a person to be the Member Secretary of the Central Authority, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by that Government, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the Central Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

    4. The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and the Member-Secretary of the Central Authority shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

    5. The Central Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, for the efficient discharge of its functions under this Act.

    6. The officers and other employees of the Central Authority shall be entitled to such a salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

    7. The Administrative expenses of the Central Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to the Member Secretary, officers and other employees of the Central Authority, shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

    8. All orders and decisions of the Central Authority shall be authenticated by the Member Secretary or any other officer of the Central Authority duly authorised by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

    9. No act or proceeding of the Central Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of the Central Authority.

     

     

    3 A. Supreme Court Legal Services Committee:- 

    1. The Central Authority shall constitute a committee to be called the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

    2. The Committee shall consist of -

      1. a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court who shall be the Chairman; and

      2. such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central Government, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India.

    3. The Chief Justice of India shall appoint a person to be the Secretary to the Committee, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

    4. The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the members and Secretary of the Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

    5. The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, for the efficient discharge of its functions.

    6. The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salaries and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.]

     

    NOTES

    Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted by S.O. 5(E) dated, 1.1.1996

    TOP

     

  2. Functions of the Central Authority:-

    The Central Authority shall [* * *] (Omitted by Act 59 of 1994, S.4.)  perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-

    1. lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of this Act;

    2. frame the most effective and economical schemes for the purpose of making legal services available under the provisions of this Act;

    3. utilise the funds at its disposal and make appropriate allocations of funds to the State Authorities and District Authorities;

    4. take necessary steps by way of social justice litigation with regard to consumer protection, environmental protection or any other matter of special concern to the weaker sections of the society and for this purpose, give training to social workers in legal skills;

    5. organise legal aid camps, especially in rural areas, slums or labour colonies with the dual purpose of educating the weaker sections of the society as to their rights as well as encouraging the settlement of disputes through Lok Adalats;

    6. encourage the settlement of disputes by way of negotiations, arbitration and conciliation;

    7. undertake and promote research in the field of legal services with special reference to the need for such services among the poor;

    8. to do all things necessary for the purpose of ensuring commitment to the fundamental duties of citizens under Part IV-A of the Constitution;

    9. Monitor and evaluate implementation of the legal aid programmes at periodic intervals and provide for independent evaluation of programmes and schemes implemented in whole or in part by funds provided under this Act;

    10. (Subs. by Act 59 of 1994, S.4) Provide grants –in –aid for specific schemes to various voluntary social service institutions and the State and District Authorities, from out of the amounts placed at its disposal for the implementation of legal services schemes under the provisions of this Act.

    11. Develop, in consultation with the Bar Council of India, programmes for clinical legal education and promote guidance and supervise the establishment and working of legal services clinics in universities, law colleges and other institutions;

    12. Take appropriate measures for spreading legal literacy and legal awareness amongst the people and, in particular, to educate weaker sections of the society about the rights, benefits and privileges guaranteed by social welfare legislations and other enactments as well as administrative programmes and measures;

    13. Make special efforts to enlist the support of voluntary social welfare institutions working at the grass-root level, particularly among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, women and rural and urban labour; and

    14. Coordinate and monitor the functioning of  (Subs. by Act 59 of 1994, S.4.)  [State Authorities, District authorities, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committees, Taluk legal Services Committees and voluntary social service institutions] and other legal services organisations and give general directions for the proper implementation of the legal services programmes.

     

  3. Central Authority to work in co-ordination with other agencies:- 

    In the discharge of its functions under this Act, the Central authority shall, wherever appropriate, act in co-ordination with other governmental and non-governmental agencies, universities and others engaged in the work of promoting the cause of legal services to the poor.

     


    TOP

    CHAPTER III

    STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY

  4. Constitution of State Legal Services Authority:-  (Subs. by Act 59 of 1994, S.5)

    1. Every State Government shall constitute a body to be called the Legal Services Authority for the State to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on or assigned to, a State authority under this Act.

    2. A State Authority shall consist of –

      1. the Chief Justice of the High Court who shall be the Patron-in-Chief.

      2. a serving or retired Judge of the High Court, to be nominated by the governor in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, who shall be the Executive Chairman; and

      3. such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the State government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    3. The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, appoint a person belonging to the State Higher Judicial Service, not lower in rank than that of a District Judge, as the Member Secretary of the State Authority, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the State Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of that Authority;

      Provided that a person functioning as Secretary of a State Legal Aid & Advice Board immediately before the date of Constitution of the State authority may be appointed as Member Secretary of that Authority, even if he is not qualified to be appointed as such under this sub-section, for a period not exceeding five years.

    4. The terms of office and other conditions relating thereby, of members and the Member Secretary of the State Authority shall be such as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    5. The State Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, for the efficient discharge of its functions under this Act.

    6. The Officers and other employees of the State authority shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    7. The administrative expenses of the State Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to the Member Secretary, officers and other employees of the State Authority shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

    8. All orders and decisions of the State Authority shall be authenticated by the Member Secretary or any other officer of the State Authority duly authorised by the Executive Chairman of the State Authority

    9. No act or proceeding of a State Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the State Authority.



  5. Functions of the State Authority:-

    1. it shall be the duty of the State Authority to give effect to the policy and directions of the Central Authority

    2. Without prejudice to the generality of the functions referred to in sub-section (1), the State Authority shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-

      1. give legal service to persons who satisfy the criteria laid down under this Act:

      2. conduct  (Subs. by Act 59 of 1994, S.6. for “Lok Adalats”)  [Lok Adalats, including Lok Adalats for High Court Cases]:

      3. undertake preventive and strategic legal aid programmes; and

      4. perform such other functions as the State Authority may, in consultation with the [Central Authority] (Subs by Act 59 of 1994,S.6. for “Central Government”) , fix by regulations.


      TOP

  6. State Authority to act in coordination with other agencies, etc., and be subject to directions given by Central Authority:- (Subs. for Ss. 8 and 9 by Act 59 of 1994, S.7)

    In the discharge of its functions the State Authority shall appropriately act in coordination with other governmental agencies, non-governmental voluntary social service institutions, universities and other bodies engaged in the work of promoting the cause of legal services to the poor and shall also be guided by such directions as the Central Authority may give to it in writing.

    8A. High Court Legal Services Committee: 

    1. The State Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the High Court Legal Services Committee for every High Court, for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

    2. The Committee shall consist of -

      1. a sitting judge of the High Court who shall be the chairman; and

      2. such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority; to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    3. The Chief Justice of the High court shall appoint a Secretary to the Committee possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the State Government.

    4. The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the members and Secretary of the Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

    5. The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court for the efficient discharge of its functions.

    6. The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.



  7. District Legal Services Authority:-

    1. The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, constitute a body to be called the District Legal Services Authority for every District in the State to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on, or assigned to, the District Authority under this Act

    2. A District authority shall consist of - 

      1. the District Judge who shall be its Chairman; and

      2. such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    3. The State Authority shall in consultation with the Chairman of the District authority, appoint a person belonging to the State Judicial Service not lower in rank than that of a Subordinate Judge or Civil Judge posted at the seat of the District Judiciary as Secretary of the District Authority to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Chairman of that Committee as may be assigned to him by such Chairman.

    4. The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and Secretary of the District Authority shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the State authority in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    5. The District Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court for the efficient discharge of its functions.

    6. The officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    7. The administrative expenses of every District Authority including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to the Secretary, officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

    8. All orders and decisions of the District Authority shall be authenticated by the Secretary or by any other officer of the District Authority duly authorised by the Chairman of that Authority.

    9. No act or proceeding of a District Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the District Authority.


    TOP

  8. Functions of District Authority:-

    1. It shall be the duty of every District Authority to perform such of the functions of the State Authority in the District as may be delegated to it from time to time by the State Authority.

    2. Without prejudice to the generality of the functions referred to in sub-section (1), the District Authority may perform all or any of the following functions, namely:-

      (a) (Subs. by Act 59 of 1994, S.8)  [Coordinate the activities of the Taluk Legal Services Committee and other legal services in the District;]

      (b) Organise Lok Adalats within the District; and

      (c) Perform such other functions as the State Authority may, [* * *] (Omitted by Act 59 of 1994, S.8)  fix by regulations

  9. District Authority to act in coordination with other agencies and be subject to directions given by the Central Authority, etc:-

    In the discharge of its functions under this Act, the District Authority shall, wherever appropriate, act in coordination with other governmental and non-governmental institutions, universities and others engaged in the work of promoting the cause of legal services to the poor and shall also be guided by such directions as the Central Authority or the State Authority may give to it in writing.

     

    [11A. Taluk Legal Services Committee:-  (Ins. by Act 59 of 1994, S.9)

    1. The State Authority may constitute a Committee, to be called the Taluk Legal Services Committee, for each taluk or mandal or group of taluks or mandals.

    2. The Committee shall consist of –

      1. the senior most Judicial Officer operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who shall be the ex-officio Chairman; and

      2. such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the State Government to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    3. The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court for the efficient discharge of its functions.

    4. The officers and other employees of the committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

    5. The Administrative expenses of the Committee shall be defrayed out of the District Legal Aid Fund by the District Authority.


    11B. Functions of Taluk Legal Services Committee:- 

    The Taluk Legal Services Committee may perform all or any of the following functions namely;

    1. coordinate the activities of legal services in the taluk;

    2. organise Lok Adalats within the taluk; and

    3. perform such other functions as the District Authority may assign to it.]


 
 

Next

 
.HOME
::
Home ::