National Legal Services Day is marked across the country annually on 9 November. The day is observed to commemorate the enactment of the Legal Services Authorities Act and to create awareness about the various provisions related to the act.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik marked the occasion by taking to social media to observe the day. He wrote that creating awareness about legal rights is important for the country’s judicial system “to ensure fair and reasonable justice procedures”.
B Sirmamulu, the Minister for Transport and ST welfare in Karnataka, also marked the occasion, adding that people should help each other and create awareness about legal support and knowledge.
Former Union Minister Sadananda Gowda also marked the National Legal Services Day.
Date of National Legal Services Day:
The Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted in 1987 to provide a “statutory base to legal aid programmes” in India on a uniform pattern, according to the website of the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA). After a lot of deliberation and some amendments, the Legacy Services Authorities Act came into existence on 9 November 1995.
The purpose of the Act is to provide competent and free legal aid to people who belonged to marginalised socio-economic communities in the country. The Act also mentions the setting up of Lok Adalats for the settlement of disputes amicably.
Since then, the passing of the Act has been every year through awareness programmes and camps about the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act.
What does the Legal Services Authorities Act entail?
The Legal Services Authorities Act provides free legal aid to a person if any of the following criteria are met:
― They are a member of a Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe
― They are a woman, child, specially-abled or mentally challenged
― They have been a victim of human trafficking or beggar
― An industrial workman
― Have an annual income of less than Rs 9,000 or any such amount laid down by the government
― A victim of “a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity”, natural or industrial disaster
― In custody, juvenile home or protective custody or in a psychiatric nursing home or hospital
The NALSA will bear the costs of filing or defending the case, as well as provide the person with counsel at the expense of the state.
How to apply for legal aid:
People can approach the concerned authority for their case through a written application or by filling the forms offline or online, or even making the case for free legal aid orally.