FREE LEGAL AID CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
HISTORICAL IDEA ABOUT LEGAL AID
The conception of Justice and human rights have been existing from the time the human race has been developed.
There exist numerous principles and their phrasing to represent the value of distinct Justice delivery principles for the protection of human kind.
The Ancient vedic texts which are in existence for centuries in India are the unblemished demonstration of Justice and its implications in the society traces are found in the Rig vedic Mantras which demonstrates the unity of a human kind , where it is cited that “May you all live in harmony , speak in one voice and let your minds be in harmony, may our purpose be the same , may be we all be one mind. In order for such unity to form , I offer a common prayer . May our intention and inspiration be alike , so that a common objective unifies us all “.
If we take out the essence of the above mentioned context we can find that the Indian legal System is somewhere or the other has taken the numerous concepts from the context of Vegas like this. The previously cited context reinforces to develop a strong and influential organization for prosperousness and to encourage fellow feeling righteousness. This is found as the base of all human rights.
One of the most known concepts of the Legal World taken from ancient scriptures is Dharma. There is no exact definition of Dharma as the concept of Dharma has distinct meaning for distinct people.
For some it might be a duty , for some it might be religion, or something else . But the common idea about Dharma which is majorly observed is of righteousness .In Mahabharata Dharma is termed as something which binds the society together. The concept of Dharma spots light on the upliftment of living beings and is basically termed as anything which is right ,just ,and moral .It is seen as a natural law and the Indian legal system has great influence on it .
Apart from this there exist various slokas which discuss the protection of innocent people from violence .
During the Mughal period as well, the legal aid system was in continuance with the presence Chief Qazi who was considered as the highest judicial officer and was asked to conduct justice effectively and proficiently. Kotwals were allotted the duty for maintaining law and order in the city and enjoyed all the magisterial power as well.
There were 3 types of crime at that time during the Mughal rule : one which was against Allah (God),the second one was against the king and the last one was against individuals and the accused were punished accordingly. Other than the historical part of legal aid in the present day it plays the most crucial role and works as a savior for the victims of criminal offenses.
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS FOR LEGAL AID
Since 1952 the concept of legal aid was in question by the Government of India in various law conferences with law Ministers .Guidelines were framed for legal aid schemes by the Government and (Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes) was established to supervise the working of legal aid schemes in different parts of India.
Later the National Legal Services Authority was constituted on 5th December, 1995. This was the biggest legal authority in India which has a remarkable role in implementation of legal aid services in India.
The committee which the Government of India appointed was asked to make an examination and to give suggestions for making legal aid a constitutional force; later the committee plainly agreed to add legal aid as a provision in the constitution of India. In part 4 of the constitution of India by the 42nd amendment the Parliament inserted the “Free Legal Aid” as a new provision and legal aid was consolidated in concurrent list .
It was constituted that legal aid and free legal aid is not only a legal right but it is also Constitutional stipulation.
Article 39 A of the Constitution of India affirms that the legal system should work to impart justice to all the citizens regardless of their economic and any other conditions.
Article 39 A majorly focuses on
Equal opportunity and reflects that everyone should be treated equally with fairness ,another concept is of free legal aid which says the government should provide relief through laws and legal schemes to people who cannot afford legal help .
Denial of Justice was not acceptable as no citizen should be deprived of the opportunity to seek justice in the legal world due any monetary or any other challenges. Moreover, even Article 14 of the constitution of India provides that” the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”Thus provides equal status to every citizen of India.
CRIME AND LEGAL AID
Crime and the legal system are inseparable parts of the legal world. Crime is something which occurs every day in every corner of the world and just like any other legal system the Indian legal System is standing as a pillar to protect the boundaries of the citizens of India from criminal offenses or any other types of offenses .
Article 21 of the Constitution provides that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” In simple terms it denotes that there should not be unlawful deprivation of your life and personal liberty without following the rules and regulations established by law. Further if any procedure is used for such deprivation it must be just and reasonable .
Apart from this the principle of natural justice must be followed by following the rule of Audi Alteram Partem which means no one shall be condemned unheard or everyone has the right to be heard. Therefore before the judgment of the court of law the accused is given a chance to be heard under the postulate of Audi Alteram Partem.
Since the service of providing justice in the legal system is touching the sky in terms of fees there exist some organizations which provide free legal aid to those who are unable to afford justice .List of these organizations or institutions are :
1.National Legal Services Authority
2.State Legal Services Authority
3. District Legal Services Authority
4. Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
5.High Court legal services Committee
6. Taluk Legal Services Committee
CRIME AND LEGAL AID PROCEDURES
Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India says – Any person who is in custody has to be informed as to why he has been arrested.Further, he cannot be denied the right to consult an advocate.
This constitutional provision states that the arrested person shall not be denied his basic fundamental right .However this law is not enjoyed by alien enemies and by those who are arrested under preventive detention law.
WHO CAN GET LEGAL AID AND WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES ?
A person can receive legal aid from the following institutions
1.Authorities provided under the LSA Act: file an application in authority and write all the grievances .An affidavit should also be attached to the application which should state that the applicant qualifies for the said legal aid under Section 12 of the LSA Act and is not barred by the Law. The form for such an application is available free of cost .
2.Legal aid clinics :District Legal Services Authority are established at village level to provide people with legal aid where the people of remote areas cannot reach.
3.Other than these there exist several NGOs which are working on different platforms from cities ,towns to local areas to provide people with the best legal aid that is free of cost.
Legal aid and the criminal justice system are needed to go hand in hand as both are inseparable branches of one tree .The constitution of India plays crucial role in protecting the legal rights and and providing criminal justice to those who are unable to afford justice for themselves .As the constitutional provisions provides opportunities for the protection of those people who are punished without being guilty of any sort of crime.
Legal awareness means to understand how the legal system works and it is necessary to make the citizens of our country aware about the Indian legal system so that it will create a great impact on society by bringing new changes. Thus creating change in the society and establishing peace by spreading awareness is the main motive of the legal system.
[Sakshi kumari , a law student from Centre For Juridical Studies, Dibrugarh university]
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