Legal Service means giving of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any Court or other Authority or Tribunal. It also includes the giving of advice on any legal matter.
Whenever a person is required to approach any Court of law/Tribunal for: (a) enforcement of his right, (b) to redress his grievances, (c) to defend his case etc.;
Whenever a person is required to approach any Office for receiving the benefits that he is entitled under the law;
Whenever a person is in need of any legal Advice/Consultation;
if such person(s) is unable to engage an Advocate due to economic or other disabilities, or such person(s) is unable to approach the concerned Office due to social, educational or other disabilities;
the State Legal Services Authority would engage/provide an Advocate to such persons from the panel of Advocates maintained by the State Legal Service Authority. The fees of such Advocates, typing/copying charges and other miscellaneous charges would be borne by the State Legal Services Authority. This is Free Legal Aid.
The modes of providing free legal aid are:
payment of Court fees, process fees, expenses of witnesses and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings.
representation by an Advocate in legal proceedings.
supply of certified copies of judgments, orders, notes of evidence and other documents in legal proceedings.
preparation of pleadings, memo of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings;
drafting of legal documents, special leave petition etc.
Not every person is entitled to free legal aid. There are
certain conditions. The following persons are entitled to free
(i) a member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;
(ii) any person in receipt of annual income less than Rs.
1 lakh; or
(iii) a woman or a child; or
(iv) a victim of trafficking in human being or beggar as
referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution; or
(v) a woman or a child; or
(vi) a mentally ill or otherwise disabled person; or
(vii) a person under circumstances or undeserved want, such
as being a victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste
atrocities, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster;
(viii) an industrial workman; or
(ix) a person in custody (arrested person/under trial
prisoner), including custody in juvenile home or a
protective home within the meaning of Section 2(g) of Immoral
Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 or psychiatric hospital.
legal aid is not given in the proceedings relating to following cases:
(ii) malicious prosecution,
(iv) economic offences and offences against social laws (such as Protection of
Civil Rights Act, 1955 and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956) etc.
person falling under any of the category (mentioned in Q.5) should
ideally submit the duly filled and signed application form either at the
Office of Sikkim SLSA or to the nearest DLSA or TLSC. The form can be
downloaded from this website itself or can be obtained from the Office
of Sikkim SLSA at Gangtok or nearest DLSA/TLSC. Once the complete form
along with the supporting documents is received, free legal aid would be
provided to the applicant forthwith.
the persons in custody, a verbal prayer for free legal aid can be made
to the concerned Court where such persons (under trial prisoners) are
produced. The concerned Court would immediately engage a legal aid
Counsel for such persons.
Such persons can be assisted by Secretary of DLSA/TLSC, panel
Advocate etc. Now we have started the scheme of “Para Legal
Volunteers” (PLVs). The PLVs who are stationed in the villages can
gather necessary information of such applicants and fill up the
forms for them. The applicant is required to affix an initial or
thumb impression on the same.
free legal aid is available for the purpose of filing bail applications
also. In every criminal Court, there is a Remand Advocate appointed by
the Sikkim SLSA. Whenever a person in custody is produced before the
criminal Court, the Remand Advocate would represent such person (if
he/she does not have a private lawyer) and as per the circumstances of
the case, would file bail applications for such persons.
Illustration/Example: “A” is arrested by Gangtok
police for an offence of theft. “A” has to be produced
before Judicial Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate within 24 hours,
if the investigation is not complete within the said period. There would
be a Remand Advocate present in the Court of Judicial Magistrate or
Chief Judicial Magistrate when “A” is produced. Gangtok
police files an application for police remand or judicial custody of the
accused person. At this juncture, the Remand Advocate can make objection
to the remand or can file application for bail on behalf of “A”.
Absolutely not. Legal aid is provided equally in civil cases to
persons falling under the category (mentioned above at Q.5). The
benefit of free legal aid in civil cases extends in waiving off the
free legal aid is not confined to cases before the subordinate Courts.
Legal Aid is provided to the needy from the lowest Court to the Supreme
Court of India. Legal Aid Counsel represent such needy persons in the
High Courts and also in the Supreme Court of India.
visit the following offices for obtaining free legal aid:
the Sub-divisional level, there are Taluk Legal Services Committees (TLSC).
Civil Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrates are the Ex-Officio
Chairpersons of TLSCs.
(ii) In the District level, there are District Legal Services
Authorities (DLSA). District and Sessions Judges of the respective
districts are the Chairpersons of DLSAs.
(iii) In the State level, there is State Legal Services Authority (SLSA)
(iv) In the High Court, there is High Court Legal Services Committee,
In the Supreme Court, there is Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
from the above, a needy person can get in touch with the PLVs of their
area. The PLVs would guide them to the nearest Legal Services Office.
are a group of volunteers raised by the State Legal Services Authority
after providing them with basic legal training. They are selected from
different walks of life, such as: retired teachers, retired Government
servants, NGOs, self help groups, aganwadi workers, panchayats,
educated prisoners with good behaviour and serving long term sentences.
Since they work in the grass root level, they act as a bridge between
the Legal Services Authorities and the public so as to ensure that legal
aid reaches all sections of the people.
SLSA consists of the following:
Chief Justice of the High Court as Patron-in-Chief.
(ii) Judge of the High Court as Executive Chairman.
(iii) District &
Sessions Judge as Member Secretary.
(iv) Other Members consisting of the Advocate General,
Secretary of Finance, Legal Remembrancer-cum-Law Secretary,
Director General of Police, Sr. Advocates, Secretary of IPR, Social
Welfare Department, DOP, RMDD etc.
Judicial Officers in every district conducts legal literacy/awareness
camps twice every month. PLVs, NGOs, police etc. coordinate with the
Judicial Officers for organising such awareness camps. This apart, legal
awareness is generated by Sikkim SLSA by opening legal aid stalls in
fairs/melas, publication in local newspapers, radio/FM, local TV
cable, workshops, seminars, training etc.
functions of Sikkim SLSA are multifarious. However, the basic functions
providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of
the society to ensure that opportunities of securing justice are not
denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities;
(ii) organising Lok Adalats; and
(iii) generating legal awareness/literacy amongst the masses.
Lok Adalat is a non-formal and alternative dispute resolution
forum wherein the dispute of the parties are settled amicably by
way of compromise. There are two conciliators in every lok
adalats of which one is a sitting or retired Judge and the other
member is a person selected from social workers, specialised in
particular field etc.
following types of cases can be settled in the lok adalats:
case of civil nature and
(ii) Compoundable criminal cases.
approach the lok adalat even at the pre-litigation stage (i.e. before a
case is filed in the Court of law). If a case falling under the above
category is pending in the Court, the concerned party may request the
Court to have the matter referred to the lok adalat.
are many advantages of settlement of a case in the lok adalat, some of
which are as follows:
the cases are determined with utmost expedition. The parties would save
(ii) there is no fees to be paid in the lok adalat. The parties
are not required to engage any Advocate. Even the Court fees paid by the
parties would be returned, if the case is amicably settled. Thus, the
parties would be saving their money.
(iii) since the award of lok adalat is prepared on the basis of
compromise between the parties, they would maintain their friendly
(iv) an award passed by the lok adalat is deemed to be a decree of
a civil Court. It is final and binding on all the parties to the
dispute. No appeal would lie to any Court against the award. There is
finality to the litigation.
Yes, there is lok adalat in the High Court level. In fact, there is lok
adalat right from the taluk level to the Supreme Court level. At the taluk,
there is Taluk lok adalat. At the district, there is district lok adalat. At
the High Court, there is High Court lok adalat and at the Supreme Court,
there is Supreme Court lok adalat.
Yes, apart from the lok adalats there are other forms of alternative dispute
resolution forums, such as arbitration, conciliation and mediation.
is a non-binding negotiation process in which a neutral third person
facilitates the parties to the dispute in arriving at a mutually acceptable
settlement. The process is informal where the outcome of the dispute is
controlled by the parties themselves. The entire process is confidential.
Civil cases, matrimonial and family disputes are best suited for mediation.
Karma Wangchuk Bhutia,
Member Secretary,Sikkim SLSA.