Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Law & Justice
03-September-2012 19:06 IST
Legal Aid

The Government has said that the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 does not make any distinction between trial and appeal for providing free legal aid to an accused or a person in custody. Every person who has to file or defend a case is eligible to get free legal aid provided he is:

i. A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;

ii. A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;

iii. A woman or a child;

iv. A person with disability as defined in clause (i) of section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (1of 1996);

v. A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or

vi. An industrial workman; or

vii. In custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, or in a juvenile home, or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987; or

viii. In receipt of annual income as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and as may be prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court. Giving this information in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Shri Salman Khurshid, Minister of Law & Justice, said that Supreme Court has been consistently urging the State that the poor people who cannot afford to institute or defend a case in a court of law should be given free legal aid at all levels of courts. The Minister said that the poor accused who fall under any of the categories mentioned in section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, irrespective of severity of crime attributed to them, are being provided free legal aid by the legal services institutions at different levels viz, Taluk, District, High Court, Supreme Court etc.