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LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT

Ministry of Law and Justice

Act nº 39 of 1987


  • Chapter I
  • Chapter II
  • Chapter III
  • Chapter IV
  • Chapter V
  • Chapter VI
  • Chapter VIA. Pre-Litigation Conciliation and Settlement
  • Chapter VII
  • Amending Acts
  • Act nº 39 of 1987

Preamble

THE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987

[Act, No. 39 of 1987]1

[11th October, 1987]

PREAMBLE

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 :--

1. All provisions except Chapter III enforced from 9-11-95.


Chapter I

Section 1. Short title, extent and commencement

(1) This Act may be called the Legal Services Authori­ties Act, 1987.

(2) It extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

(3) It shall come into force on such date1as the Central Government may, by notification, appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act and for different States, and any reference to commencement in any provision of this Act in relation to any State shall be construed as a reference to the commencement of that provision in that State.

1. All provisions except Chapter III enforced from 9-11-95.


Section 2. Definitions

(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,--

1 [(a) "case" includes a suit or any proceeding before a court;

(aa) "Central Authority" means the National Legal Services Authority constituted under section 3; (aaa) "court" means a civil, criminal or revenue court and includes any tribunal or any other authority constituted under any law for the time being in force, to exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions;]

(b) "District Authority" means a District Legal Services Authority constituted under section 9;

2 [(bb) "High Court Legal Services Committee" means a High Court Legal Services Committee consti­tuted under section 3A];

(c) "legal service" includes the rendering of any service in the conduct of any case or other legal proceeding before any court or other authority or tribunal and the giving of advice on any legal matter;

(d) "Lok Adalat" means a Lok Adalat organised under Chapter VI;

(e) "notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette;

(f) "prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

2 [(ff) "regulations" means regulations made under this Act;]

(g) "scheme" means any scheme framed by the Central Authority, a State Authority or a District Author­ity for the purpose of giving effect to any of the provisions of this Act;

(h) "State Authority" means a State Legal Services Authority constituted under section 6;

(i) "State Government" includes the administrator of a Union territory appointed by the President under article 239 of the Constitution;

2 [(j) "Supreme Court Legal Services Committee" means the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee constituted under section 3A;

(k) "Taluk Legal Services Committee" means a Taluk Legal Services Committee constituted under section 11A.]

(2) Any reference in this Act to any other enactment or any provision thereof shall, in relation to an area in which such enactment or provision is not in force, be construed as a reference to the corresponding law or the relevant provision of the corresponding law, if any, in force in that area.

1. Substituted by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), Section. 2 (29-10-94).

2. Inserted, Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), Section. 2 (29-10-94).


Chapter II

Section 3. Constitution of National Legal Services Authority

1 [3. Constitution of National Legal Services Authority.--

(1)The Central Government shall constitute a body to be called the National Legal Services Authority to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on, or assigned to, the Central Authority under this Act,

(2) The Central Authority shall consist of--

(a) the Chief Justice of India who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;

(b) a serving or retired Judge of the Supreme Court to he nominated by the President, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, who shall be the Executuve Chairman; and

(c) such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed by the Central Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

(3) The Central Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, appoint a person to he the Member-Secretary of the Central Authority, possessing such experience and qualifications as may he pre­scribed by that Government, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the Central Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

(4) The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and the Membr-Secretary of the Central Authority shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

(5) The Central Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be pre­scribed by the Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, for the efficient discharge of its functions under this Act.

(6) The officers and other employees of the Central Authority shall be entitled to such salary and allow­ances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may he prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

(7) The administrative expenses of the Central Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pen­sions payable to the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the Central Authority, shall be de­frayed out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

(8) All orders and decisions of the Central Authority shall be authenticated by the Member-Secretary or any other officer of the Central Authority duly authorised by the Executive Chairman of that Authority.

(9) No act or proceeding of the Central Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the Central Authority.

1. Substituted for section 3 by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 3 (29-10-94).


Section 3A. Supreme Court Legal Services Committee

(1) The Central Authority shall constitute a committee to be called the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by regulations made, by the Central Authority.

(2) The Committee shall consist of--

(a) a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court who shall be the Chairman; and

(b) such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central Government, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India.

(3) The Chief Justice of India shall appoint a person to be the Secretary to the Committee, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

(4) The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the members and Secretary of the Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

(5) The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, for the efficient discharge of its functions.

(6) The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.".

Section 4. Functions of the Central Authority

The Central Authority shall 1 [***] perform all or any of the following functions.

(a) lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of this Act;

(b) frame the most effective and economical schemes for the purpose of making legal services available under the provisions of this Act;

(c) utilise the funds at its disposal and make appropriate allocations of funds to the State Authorities and District Authorities;

(d) take necessary steps by way of social justice litigation with regard to consumer protection, environ­mental protection or any other matter of special concern to the weaker sections of the society and for this purpose, give training to social workers in legal skills;

(e) organise legal aid camps, especially in rural areas, slums or labour colonies with the dual purpose of educating the weaker sections of the society as to their rights as well as encouraging the settlement of disputes through Lok Adatals;

(f) encourage the settlement of disputes by way of negotations, arbitration and conciliation;

(g) undertake and promote research in the field of legal services with special reference to the need for such services among the poor;

(h) to do all things necessary for the purpose of ensuring commitment to the fundamental duties of citi­zens under Part IVA of the Constitution;

(i) monitor and evaluate implementation of the legal aid programmes at periodic intervals and provide for independent evaluation of programmes and schemes implemented in whole or in part by funds provided under this Act;

2 [(j) provide grants-in-aid for specific schemes to various voluntary social service institutions and the State and District Authorities, from out of the amounts placed at its disposal for the implementation of legal services schemes under the provisions of this Act;]

(k) develop, in consultation with the Bar Council of India, programmes for clinical legal education and promote guidance and supervise the establishment and working of legal services clinics in universities, law colleges and oilier institutions;

(l) take appropriate measures for spreading legal literacy and legal awareness amongst the people and in particular, to educate weaker sections of the society about the rights, benefits and privileges guaranteed by social welfare legislations and other enactments as well as administrative programmes and measures;

(m) make special efforts to enlist the support of voluntary social welfare institutions working at the grass-root level, particularly among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes women and rural and urban labour; and

(n) co-ordinate and monitor the functioning of 3 [State Authorities, and other legal services organisations] and give general directions for the proper implementation of the legal services programmes.

1. Words "subject to the general directions of the Central Government "omitted by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 4 (29-10-94).

2. Substituted, by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 4 (29-10-94).

3. Substituted for "State and District Authorities and other voluntary social welfare institutions", by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 4 (29-10-94).


Section 5. Central Authority to work in co-ordination with other agencies

In the discharge of its functions under this Act, the Central Authority shall, wherever appropriate, act in co-ordination with other governmental and non-governmental agencies, universities and others engaged in the work of promoting the cause of legal services to the poor.

Chapter III

Section 6. Constitution of State Legal Services Authority

1[6. Constitution of State Legal Services Authority.--

(1) Every State Government shall constitute a body to be called the Legal Services Authority for the State to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on, or assigned to, a State Authority under this Act.

(2) A State Authority shall consist of--

(a) the Chief Justice of the High Court who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;

(b) a serving or retired Judge of the High Court, to be nominated by the Governor, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, who shall be the Executive Chairman; and

(c) such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(3) The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, appoint, a person belonging to the State Higher Judicial Service, not lower in rank than that of a District Judge, as the Member-Secretary of the State Authority, to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the State Authority as may be prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of that Authority :

Provided that a person functioning as Secretary of a State Legal Aid and Advice Board immediately before the dale of constitution of the State Authority may be appointed as Member-Secretary of that Authority, even if he is not qualified to be appointed as such under this sub-section, for a period not exceeding five years.

(4) The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and the Member-Secretary of the State Authority shall be such as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(5) The State Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, for the efficient discharge of its functions under this Act.

(6) The officers and other employees of the State Authority shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may he prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(7) The administrative expenses of the State Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the State Authority shall he defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

(8) All orders and decisions of the State Authority shall be authenticated by the Member-Secretary or any other officer of the State Authority duly authorised by the Executive Chairman of the State Authority.

(9) No act or proceeding of a State Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the State Authority.]

1. Substituted by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 5 (29-10-94).


Section 7. Functions of the State Authority

(1) It shall be the duty of the State Authority to give effect to the policy and directions of the Central Authority.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the functions referred to in sub-section (1), the State Authority shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely :--

(a) give legal service to persons who satisfy the criteria laid down under this Act;

(b) conduct1[Lok Adalats, including Lok Adalats for High Court cases];

(c) undertake preventive and strategic legal aid programmes; and

(d) perform such other functions as the State Authority may, in consultation with the2[Central Authority], fix by regulations.

1. Substitutes for "Lok Adalats" by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 6 (29-10-94).

2. Substituted for" Central Government", by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 6 (29-10-94).


Section 8. State Authority to act in co-ordination with other agencies etc., land be subject to directions given by the Central Authority

1[8. State Authority to act in co-ordination with other agencies etc., land be subject to directions given by the Central Authority.--

In the discharge of its functions the State Authority shall appropriately act in co-ordination with other governmental agencies, non-governmental valutitary social service institutions, universities and other bodies engaged in the work of promoting the cause of legal services to the poor and shall also be guided by such directions as the Central Authority may give to it in writing.

1. Substituted for sections 8 and 9 by Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act (59 of 1994), section 7 (29-10-94).


Section 8A. High Court Legal Services Committee

(1) The State Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the High Court Legal Services Committee for every High Court, for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

(2) The Committee shall consist of--

(a) a silting Judge of the High Court who shall be the Chairman; and

(b) such number of other members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority, to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(3) The Chief Justice of the High Court shall appoint a Secretary to the Committee possessing such experience and qualifications as may be prescribed by the State Government.

(4) The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of the membes and Secretary of the Committee shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

(5) The Committee may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court for the efficient discharge of its functions.

(6) The officers and other employees of the Committee shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

Section 9. District Legal Services Authority

(1) The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, constitute a body to be called the District Legal Services Authority for every District in the State to exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred on, or assigned to, the District Authority under this Act.

(2) A District Authority shall consist of--

(a) the District Judge who shall be its Chairman; and

(b) such number of other members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(3) The State Authority shall, in consultation with the Chairman of the District Authority, appoint a person belonging to the State Judicial Service not lower in rank than that of a Subordinate Judge or Civil Judge posted at the seat of the District Judiciary as Secretary of the District Authority to exercise such powers and perform such duties under the Chairman of that Committee as may be assigned to him by such Chairman.

(4) The terms of office and other conditions relating thereto, of members and Secretary of the District Authority shall be such as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(5) The District Authority may appoint such number of officers and other employees as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court for the efficient discharge of its functions.

(6) The officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be entitled to such salary and allowances and shall be subject to such other conditions of service as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

(7) The administrative expenses of every District Authority, including the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to the Secretary, officers and other employees of the District Authority shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

(8) All orders and decisions of the District Authority shall be authenticated by the Secretary or by any other officer of the District Authority duly authorised by the Chairman of that Authority.

(9) No act or proceeding of a District Authority shall be invalid merely on the ground of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the District Authority.]