The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee is being established to provide free legal aid to the eligible persons in legal matters coming before the High Courts.
The Legal Services Authorities Act also provides for constitution of the State Legal Services Committees, High Court Legal Services Committees, district legal Services Committees and Taluk Legal Services Committees.
Under the Legal Services Authorities Act, every citizen whose annual does not exceed Rs. 9,000 is eligible for free legal aid in cases before subordinate courts and high courts. In cases before the Supreme Court, the limit is Rs. 12,000.
This limit can be increased by the state governments. Limitation as to the income does not apply in the case of persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children, handicapped etc.
The legal aid programme adopted by NALSA include promotion of legal literacy, setting up of legal aid clinics in universities and Law Colleges, training of para-legals, and holding aid camps and Lok Adalats.
The Government has sanctioned Rs. 4 crore as grant-in-aid for NALSA for 1998-99 allocating funds to the State, District authorities, etc. The NALSA is also monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the legal aid programmes in the country.
Up to December 1997 about 23.88 lakh persons were benefited through court-oriented legal aid programmes provided by the state Legal Aid and Advice Boards/State Legal Services Authorities.
Of them 3.73 lakh persons belonged to the Scheduled Castes about 2.14 lakh to the Scheduled Tribes, 2,40,485 were women and 8,578 were children.
Lok Adalats have proved to be an effective mechanism for resolution of disputes through conciliatory methods.
Up to 31 December 1997, about 17,633 Lok Adalats have been in different parts of the country where about 68.86 lakh cases were settled.
In about 3, 49.710 motor vehicles accident claims cases, compensation amounting to over Rs. 1,16o.70 crore was awarded. Under the Legal Services Authorities Act, Lok Adalat has been given the status of a Civil Court and every award made by Lok Adalat is final and binding on all parties and no appeal lies to any court against its award.
The Attorney General for India is appointed by President and office during the pleasure of the President. He must be a person qualification to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court.
It is the duty of the Attorney-General of India to give advice to the Government if India upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character as may be referred or assigned to him by the President and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under the Constitution or any other law.
In the performance of his duties, he has the right of audience in all courts in India as well as the right to take part in the proceeding of parliament, without the right to vote. In the discharge of his functions, the Attorney-General is assisted by Solicitor-General and Additional Solicitor-General.
In India the law relating to legal profession is governed by the Advocates Act, 1961 and the rules framed thereunder by the Bar Council of India.
It is a self-contained code of law relating to legal practitioner and provides for the constitution of State Bar Councils and Bar Council of India.
A person enrolled as an advocate under the Advocates Act 1961, is entitled to practise law throughout the country.
An advocate on the role of a State Bar Council may apply for transfer to the roll of any other State Bar council in the prescribed manner. No person can be enrolled an advocate on the roll of more than one State Bar Council.
There are two classes of advocates, namely, senior advocates and other advocates. An advocate with his consent may be designated as a senior advocate, if the Supreme Court or a High Court of the opinion that by virtue of his ability, standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law, he deserved such distinction.
A senior advocate cannot appear without an advocate-on-record in the Supreme Court or without some other advocate in the state roll in any other Court or Tribunal. Standards of education have been prescribed for enrolment as an advocate.
There are also rules regulating standards of professional conduct and etiquette and other matters. State Bar Councils have disciplinary jurisdiction over advocates whose names appear on their rolls. This is subject to right of appeal to the Bar Council of India and a further right of appeal to the Supreme Court of India.
Law Commission of India:
The 15 Law Commission has been reconstituted with effect from 1 September 1997 for a period of there years with Hon’ble Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Chairman and Mrs Justice Leila Seth and Dr. N.M. Ghatate as Members, Dr. N.R. Madhava Menon as part-time member and Dr. S.C. Jan as Member-secretary.
The terms of reference of the Law Commission are:
(i) Review/Repeal of obsolete laws;
(a) To identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed?
(b) To identify laws which are in harmony with the existing climate of economic liberalization which need no change?
(c) To identify laws which require changes or amendments and to make suggestions for their amendment;
(d) To consider in a wider perspective the suggestions for revision/amendment given by expert groups in various ministries/ departments with a view to coordinating and harmonising them;
(e) To consider references made to it by ministries/departments in respect of legislation having bearing on the working of more than one ministry/ department;
(f) To suggest suitable measures for quick redressed of citizens, grievances in the field of law;
(ii) Law and Poverty;
(a) To examine the laws which affect the poor and carry out post-audit for socio-economic legislation?
(b) To take all such measures as may be necessary to harness law and the legal process in the service to the poor;
(iii) To keep under review the system of judicial administration to ensure that it is responsive to the reasonable demands to the times and in particular to secure:
(a) Elimination of delays, speedy clearance of arrears and reduction of costs so as to secure quick and economical disposal of cases without affecting the cardinal principle that decisions should be just and fair;
(b) Simplification of procedure to reduce and eliminate technicalities and devices for delay so that it operates not as an end in itself but as a means of achieving justice.
(c) Improvement of standards of all concerned with the administration of justice;
(iv) to examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and to suggest ways of improvement and Reform and also to suggest such legislation as might be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble to the Constitution;
(v) to revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and to remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities;
(vi) to recommend to the Government measures for making the statute book up-to-date by repealing obsolete laws and enactment or parts thereof which have outlived heir utility, and
(vii) to consider and to convey to the Government its views on any other subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be referred to. The commission has taken up various subjects according to the terms of reference.
Questionnaires on the proposed amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and Hire Purchase Act, 1972 have been issued to elicit the views/ suggestions on the aforesaid subjects from the various concerned persons/ organisations including government agencies.
The Commission has submitted the following reports:
(a) 157 report on ‘Section 52: Transfer of Property Act, 1882 and its amendment;
(b) 158 report on ‘The Amendment of the Industries (Development and Regulation) act, 1951;
(c) 159 report on ‘Repeal and amendment of Laws; Part-1;
(d) 160 report on ‘Amendment to the All India Council for Technical Education Act, 1987 (Act 52 of 1987)’;
(e) 161 report on ‘Central Vigilance Commission and Allied Bodies’, and
(f) 162 report on ‘Review of Functioning of Central Administrative Tribunal, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal and Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal’.