Legal Aid in India

The majority of the population is illiterate in India, which is the second-most populous nation on earth. "The concept of seeking justice cannot be linked with the value of dollars," Justice Harry Blackmun stated. Justice cannot be obtained through the use of money, which is the second-most populous nation on earth. "The concept of seeking justice cannot be linked with the value of dollars," Justice Harry Blackmun stated. Justice cannot be obtained through the use of money. The majority of people are ignorant of their protected rights as well as the nation's legal system.

What is the meaning of Legal Aid?

Legal aid is help given to those who, without it, would not be able to afford legal counsel or access the justice system. Legal assistance actually makes sure you have a competent attorney when you exercise your right to a fair trial in order to give you access to justice. Legal assistance is crucial in ensuring that everyone has access to justice on an equal basis.

There are several ways to provide legal aid, including duty attorneys, community legal centers, and paying attorneys to handle cases for people who qualify for legal aid.

What is Legal Aid in India?

Legal aid refers to uncompensated legal services that advance societal benefit. Numerous initiatives in this regard have been made in India, such as the implementation of Lok Adalats. A defendant has the right to request legal help if he cannot pay it, as stated in a number of Indian constitutional articles.

According to Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, "The State shall not deny to any individual within the territory of India, equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws." The Indian Legislature kept in mind the fear of extreme inequality caused by the parties' disparities in wealth when drafting the phrase "Equal Protection of the Laws."

The Indian Constitution's preamble aspires to guarantee socioeconomic and political justice to the Indian people. The Indian Constitution's Articles 38 and 39A are notable.

  • According to Article 38(1) of the constitution- “the state must safeguard and protect the social order, including justice, and

  • According to Article 39-A of the constitution- “mandates that it must specifically provide free legal aid through appropriate legislation or programs to ensure that no citizen is denied the opportunity to pursue justice”.

A just society must ensure that there is a strong, publicly funded legal aid system to address these demands. Society must make sure that there is a system of legal assistance available to help individuals who otherwise cannot afford legal counsel or representation when they need it.

History of Legal Aid in India

Legal assistance and the welfare state are closely related, and a state's decision to offer legal help is determined by its welfare policies. Legal aid is a welfare benefit offered by the government to those who would otherwise be unable to afford legal representation. By giving those who are entitled to welfare benefits, such as social housing, access to legal counsel and the courts, legal aid also contributes to ensuring that welfare provisions are upheld.

Legal aid has historically been important in ensuring the respect for economic, social, and cultural rights that are involved with social security, housing, social care, health care, and education service provision, which may be provided publicly or privately, as well as employment law and anti-discrimination legislation. Legal experts like-

  • Mauro Cappelletti contends that- “access to justice is facilitated by legal aid since it enables people to assert their economic, social, and cultural rights on a personal level.”

His beliefs came into being in the latter half of the 20th century, when democracies with capitalist economies created liberal welfare states that prioritized the individual.

Before the middle of the 20th century, the emphasis in legal assistance literature was on collectively enforcing economic, social, and cultural rights. A fundamental tenet of the development of traditional welfare states in the decades after World War II was that economic, social, and cultural rights were the duty of all people, and that the state would take care of those who couldn't care for themselves due to disease or unemployment.

Who is Entitled to Get Legal Aid?

The following social groups have the right to free legal assistance under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act:

  • A person who belongs to a scheduled caste or tribe;

  • A beggar or victim of human trafficking as defined in Article 23 of the Constitution;

  • A girl or a kid;

  • A person who is mentally sick or otherwise impaired;

  • A person experiencing unjustified want due to, for example, being a victim of an industrial tragedy, a mass disaster, ethnic conflict, caste cruelty, flood, drought, or other calamity; or

  • A worker in industry; or

  • In custody, including custody in a protective home as defined by Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956(104 of 1956); or in a juvenile home as defined by Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986(53 of 1986); or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home as defined by Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987(14 of 1987); or

  • When the matter is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and when the yearly income is less than Rs. 9,000 or another higher sum defined by the State Government, and when the annual income is less than Rs. 12,000 or another higher amount prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court and High Court.


Legal assistance for the poor is essential for the preservation of legal principles, which is necessary for the existence of an ordered society. It implies providing free legal services to the impoverished and underprivileged who cannot afford to pay for a legal representative's services during the course of a case in a court, council, or before an expert. Distributive justice, the efficient administration of welfare payments, and the eradication of social and fundamental injustices against the poor are the main focuses of Legal Aid. It operates in accordance with the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987, which serves as the framework for the provision of free equity.


Q1. Does legal aid reduce poverty?

Ans. Absolutely! In order to encourage more individuals to seek legal assistance, rural development NGOs can spread the word about this right to legal awareness.

Q2. How can law reduce poverty?

Ans. Following are some of the ways through which law helps to reduce the poverty:

  • Enacting and enforcing laws that protect workers' rights and ensure fair wages.

  • Implementing progressive taxation systems to redistribute wealth and provide social safety net programs.

  • Creating and enforcing laws that protect access to affordable housing, healthcare, and education.

  • Providing legal aid to low-income individuals and families to help them access government benefits and navigate the legal system.

  • Protecting consumer rights to ensure that low-income individuals and families are not taken advantage of by predatory businesses or lenders.

  • Creating laws and policies that promote job creation and economic growth in low-income communities.

  • Promote and support small businesses, through tax policies and other incentives.

Q3. How can we improve legal aid in India?

Ans. Following are some of the ways through which we can improve the legal aid in India:

  • Increasing funding for legal aid programs: This would enable more resources to be dedicated to providing legal services to low-income individuals and families.

  • Improving access to legal aid: This can be done by setting up legal aid clinics in remote and rural areas, and by making it easier for people to find and access legal aid services.

  • Training more legal aid lawyers: This would ensure that there are enough qualified lawyers available to provide legal aid services to low-income individuals and families.

  • Providing legal aid services in local languages: This would improve access to legal aid services for people who may not speak English or Hindi.

  • Using technology to improve legal aid services: This can be done by creating online legal aid portals, legal aid chatbots, and other technological tools to make it easier for people to access legal aid services.

  • Creating a better coordination between different legal aid organizations and government agencies: This would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of legal aid services.

  • Raising awareness about legal aid: This can be done by educating people about their legal rights and the legal aid services that are available to them.