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UPSC Essentials: One word a day – NALSA

What is NALSA? Also know what did the PM and CJI say about 'Right to free legal aid'. Aspirants must cover all the relevant aspects of this institution, its objectives and initiatives for both UPSC-CSE prelims and mains.

upsc, NALSA, DLSA, PM Modi, CJI, current affairs for upsc, right to free legal aid, lok adalats, upsc polity and social justice, one word a day, upsc cse prelims 2023, upsc mains 2022, sarkari naukri, government jobs, upsc key, upsc essentialsPM and CJI addressed the inaugural session of First All India District Legal Services Authorities Meet. (Photo: ANI)

Take a look at the essential concepts, terms, and phenomena from the static and current parts of the UPSC-CSE. Also, check the answer to the previous MCQ.


Subject: Polity and Social Justice

Relevance: Highly productive for the subject of polity and social justice. Talks about institutions and issues. Must not be ignored because the two most important personalities, the PM and the CJI talked about its various aspects. Don’t just view it as a prelims probable question but rich content for your mains too (GS II and Essay). Also, solve the MCQ below.

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Why in news?

1st First Meeting of the All India District Legal Services Authority, organised by the National Legal Services Authority was inaugurated by the PM.

—He said that the time which was chosen for the inauguration of this meet was not only apt but also appropriate from a historical perspective as India was soon going to celebrate its 75th year of Independence.

What is NALSA?

—The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society.

—It also organizes Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.

—It monitors and reviews various legal aid programs. It provides rules and principles for legal services under the Act.


—It also distributes funding and grants to state legal services authorities and non-profit organisations to help them execute legal aid systems and initiatives.

—Hon’ble Mr. Justice N. V. Ramana, The Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief. NALSA is housed at Supreme Court of India.

What are SLSA and DLSA?

—In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA.


—It aims to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State.

—The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.

—Similarly, in every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District.

—The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.

—Other than these, there are Taluka/ Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee (headed by a senior Civil Judge), High Court Legal Services Committee and Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.

What are the objectives of Legal Services Authorities?

—Provide free legal aid and advice.

—Spread legal awareness.

—Organise lok adalats.


—Promote settlements of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms. Various kinds of ADR mechanisms are Arbitration, Conciliation, Judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat, or Mediation.

—Provide compensation to victims of crime.

What are various Constitutional provisions related to NALSA?

Article 39A of the Constitution of India: It provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability.


Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system that promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all.

What is a brief historical background of NALSA?

—The earliest Legal Aid movement appears to be from the year 1851 when some enactment was introduced in France for providing legal assistance to the indigent.


—In Britain, the history of the organised efforts on the part of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy dates back to 1944.

—Since 1952, the Govt. of India also started addressing to the question of legal aid for the poor in various conferences of Law Ministers and Law Commissions.

—In different states, legal aid schemes were floated through Legal Aid Boards, Societies and Law Departments.

—In 1980, a Committee at the national level was constituted to oversee and supervise legal aid programmes throughout the country under the Chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati then a Judge of the Supreme Court of India. This Committee came to be known as CILAS (Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes) and started monitoring legal aid activities throughout the country.

—The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the litigants for conciliatory settlement of their disputes.

—In 1987 Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes throughout the country on a uniform pattern.

—This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November, 1995 after certain amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994. Hon. Mr. Justice R.N. Mishra the then Chief Justice of India played a key role in the enforcement of the Act.

—National Legal Services Authority was constituted on 5th December, 1995.

—The Supreme Court of India first started the ‘National Legal Services Day’ in 1995.

Who is Eligible for Getting Free Legal Services?

Under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act every person who has to file or defend a case shall be entitled to legal services under this Act if that person is

—Women and children

—Members of SC/ST

—Industrial workmen

—Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster.

—Disabled persons

—Persons in custody

—If that person is related to section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986) or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987 (14 of 1987)

—Those persons who have annual income of less than the amount prescribed by the respective State Government, if the case is before any court other than the Supreme Court, and less than Rs. 5 Lakhs, if the case is before the Supreme Court.

—Victims of Trafficking in Human beings or begar.

What are the various related initiatives?

—Legal Aid Counsel have been provided in most of the courts of the Magistrates in the country to provide immediate legal assistance to those prisoners who are not in a position to engage their own counsel.

—All the State Legal Services Authorities are taking steps to establish counselling and conciliation Centers

‘Nyaya Deep’, the official newsletter of NALSA is promoting a healthy working relationship between legal services functionaries throughout the country and is proving immensely useful for exchange of views and sharing of ideas.

—NALSA has also called upon State Legal Services Authorities to set up legal aid cells in jails so that the prisoners lodged therein are provided prompt and efficient legal aid to which they are entitled by virtue of section 12 of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

—NALSA has launched Legal Services Mobile App on Android and iOS versions to enable easy access to legal aid to common citizens. This will To enable equitable access to justice.

—Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched comprehensive, holistic, integrated and systemic solution on access to justice at pan India level through a scheme titled “Designing Innovative Solutions for Holistic Access to Justice (DISHA)” being implemented from 2021-26. All the Access to Justice Programmes have been merged under DISHA scheme and upscaled to all India level.

—During the Chairmanship of the then Hon’ble Executive Chairman, Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir, the following innovative steps have been introduced in the functioning of NALSA:-

Legal Services to Trans-Gender people was taken up as a new project of NALSA.

Training of Para-Legal Volunteers and engaging them in the front offices of Legal Services Institutions and in the village level legal aid clinics were started.

Legal Literacy Programmes in schools and colleges started in an organised manner with the assistance of the Department of Education in all States.

School Legal Literacy Clubs set up in all High Schools under the State Legal Services Authorities in order to create legal awareness, obedience to law and spread the philosophy of rule of law amongst the younger generation.

Legal Aid Clinics in all villages to be manned by Para-legal Volunteers and panel lawyers.

Key takeaways from an inaugural session of First All India District Legal Services Authorities Meet 

Prime Minister:

—“Like Ease of Doing Business and Ease of Living, Ease of Justice is equally important in Amrit Yatra of the country”

—“In the last eight years, work has been done at a fast pace to strengthen the judicial infrastructure of the country”

—“Our judicial system is committed to the ancient Indian values of justice and is also ready to match the realities of the 21st century”

—The Prime Minister also released a commemorative postal stamp on the ‘Right to free legal aid’.

—Pointing to the need for sensitivity to undertrial prisoners, he said there are many still waiting for justice. He said that the district legal services authorities can take up the responsibility of providing legal aid to such prisoners. The PM also appealed to the district judges, as chairpersons of undertrial review committees, to expedite the release of undertrial prisoners.

—The PM said that judicial infrastructure has a significant role to play in the delivery of justice and added that in the last 8 years, work has been done at a fast pace to improve the infrastructure and Rs 9,000 crore was spent on this. This, he said, will increase the pace of justice delivery.
The PM said that technology can also play a big role in ensuring that common citizens are aware of their rights and duties in the Constitution.


—Though the Constitution promises social, economic and political justice to every citizen, “the reality is that, today, only a small percentage of our population can approach the justice delivery system, when in need” and “majority of the people suffer in silence, lacking awareness and necessary means”.

—“Modern India was built around the goal of removing the disparities in society,” he said and added that “project democracy is about providing a space for participation of all. Participation will not be possible without social emancipation. Access to justice is a tool for social emancipation”.

—The CJI said that “wherever I go, I always attempt to project the achievements of the Indian judiciary in winning the trust and faith of the people. But if we intend to serve the people better, we need to flag the issues which hinder our functioning.”

—There is no meaning in camouflaging or hiding the problems. If we don’t discuss these issues, if matters of pressing concern are not addressed, then the system will cripple” and “I fear, we may be unable to fulfil our constitutional mandate of social justice”.

—He urged the participants “therefore, to discuss, debate and decide” and added, “this is the principle I have been following all through”.

Law Minister:

—Flagged the pendency of cases in family courts.

—He pointed out that more than 11 lakh cases are pending in the various family courts and asked why should children suffer because of the problems between adults. He urged the district judges to take the lead to remedy this and assured that the Centre and states will cooperate in the effort.

Point to ponder: Legal profession not about profit maximisation but service to society. Discuss in the light of judicial ethics.


With reference to National Legal Services Authority, consider the following statements: (UPSC- CSE 2013)

1. Its objective is to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society on the basis of equal opportunity.

2. It issues guidelines for the State Legal Services Authorities to implement the legal programmes and schemes throughout the country.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

(sources: PIB,

Answer to previous MCQ- UPSC Essentials: One word a day – Astrobee (d)

First published on: 03-08-2022 at 02:15:35 pm
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