THE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987 NO.39 OF 1987:

As Amended by The Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act, 1994(No. 59 of 1994)

An act to constitute legal services authorities, to provide free and competent legal services 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 organise 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:-

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 a 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 programme 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 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 THE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987 [ Sec.1 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, thee 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.

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