Free Legal Aid or Services by the Government/NALSA are provided in both civil and criminal matters. It is provided to those economically or socially marginalized persons who cannot afford the services of a lawyer for the conduct of a case or legal proceedings in any Court in India. Only those individuals that are eligible as per the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 would be entitled for Free Legal Aid.
The Free Legal Services that an eligible individual can get through NALSA incude:
Free Legal Aid can be applied for cases in any Court in India, including Taluk, District, High Courts and Supreme Court of India.
1. Which Courts in India can I apply Free Legal Aid for?
Ans. Free Legal Aid can be availed for cases in any Court in India - from Taluk, District Courts and High Courts to the Supreme Court of India. It is not confined to the cases before the subordinate courts only.
2. What kind of cases can I apply Free Legal Aid for?
Ans. According to Section 13 (1) of the Act, any individual who satisfies any criteria under Section 12 is entitled to receive legal services, provided that the concerned Legal Services Authority is satisfied that such person has a genuine case to prosecute or defend the matter. There is hence no bar as to which kind of cases one can apply and not apply for. All kinds of cases are included as long as the individual satisfies the eligibility under Section 12 of the Act.
3. Can I choose a lawyer of my choice under the Free legal Services/Aid?
Ans. Yes, it is possible to avail the services of a lawyer of your choice under Free Legal Services. According to regulation 7(6) of the National Legal Services Authority (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations 2010, the application for legal services will be scrutinized by the Member-Secretary or the Secretary and if the applicant has mentioned/expressed his/her choice of a lawyer on the panel, such Member-Secretary or Secretary can consider and allow the same.
4. Can I get only free legal consultation even if I do not want to pursue a proper case in the courts?
Ans. Yes, it is possible to get any kind of legal service under Free Legal Aid/Services. Section 2(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 states that “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. Since only legal consultation is also a part of legal services under the Act, an individual can avail it under the Free Legal Aid/Services.
5. Can I get Free Legal Aid lawyer at any stage of case? Can I get Free Legal Aid at the time of appeal even though I had my personal lawyer before the appellate stage?
Ans. Yes, you can apply to get Free Legal Aid at any stage of the case as long as you are eligible to attain Free legal services as per Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Even if you had your personal lawyer before and require a lawyer under Free Legal Aid only at the stage of appeal (and are eligible under Section 12), you can make an application to avail the same.