ADR Competition AnnouncementsLaw School News


About the Legal Aid Clinic

The NLIU – Legal Aid Clinic (“LAC”), which is driven by the ethos of Article 39A of the Indian Constitution, has been established under the aegis of the National Legal Services Authority. It is a student-run initiative, which aims to provide free legal aid to the marginalized sections of society. Our aim is to provide pro bono legal representation and advice to the weak and downtrodden sections of society. Additionally, we also organize various legal literacy workshops and training programs to spread legal awareness and to further the cause of legal literacy. All this has been made possible by the constant support of our collaborators, viz.:

1. Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority,

2. District State Legal Services Authority, Bhopal

3. Indian National Bar Association,

4. International Council of Jurists,

5. Committee for Legal Aid to Poor,

6. SCC Online,

7. EBC,

8. LiveLaw,

9. Red FM Bhopal, and

10. Everyday India.

About the Constitution Day: PIL Drafting Competition

NLIU-LAC is delighted to announce the 3rd edition of the PIL Drafting Competition on the occasion of the 73rd Constitution Day. The competition is aimed at providing an opportunity for the students to understand the legal and practical aspects of Public Interest Litigation. The PIL must be drafted on any issue of contemporary relevance.

The last date to register is 20th November 2022.

Link for registration: Click Here

To Know More, refer NLIU-LAC PIL Drafting Competition

Contact details

Payal Dubey

Convener | Legal Aid Clinic

Class of 2023, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.)

National Law Institute University, Bhopal

✆ +91 6265-292-486

Gaargi Singh

Co-Convener | Legal Aid Clinic

Class of 2023, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.)

National Law Institute University, Bhopal

✆ +91 9426-336-531

Law made Easy

Article 39-A of the Constitution of India provides that the 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 which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. 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 and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. This Authority is headed by The Chief Justice of India. NALSA is housed at the Supreme Court of India.

In every State, the State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.

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. Legal Aid is provided to the needy from the lowest Court to the Supreme Court of India.

1. Purpose of free legal aid?

Free legal aid is the provision of free legal services in civil and criminal matters for those poor and marginalized people who cannot afford the services of a lawyer for the conduct of a case or a legal proceeding in any Court, Tribunal or Authority. Provision of free legal aid may include:

  1. Representation by an Advocate in legal proceedings.

  2. Payment of process fees, expenses of witnesses and all other charges payable or incurred in connection with any legal proceedings in appropriate cases;

  3. Preparation of pleadings, memo of appeal, paper book including printing and translation of documents in legal proceedings;

  4. Drafting of legal documents, special leave petition etc.

  5. Supply of certified copies of judgments, orders, notes of evidence and other documents in legal proceedings.

2. Eligibility Criteria for availing free legal aid?

The section of society who are enlisted under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 are entitled to get free legal aid. They are as follows:

(a). a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;

(b). a victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in article 23 of the Constitution;

(c). a woman(irrespective of her income or financial status) or a child(till the age of majority i.e.,18 years);

(d). 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

(e). a person under circumstances of underserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic, violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or

(f). an industrial workman; or

(g). 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 within the meaning of clause (j) of 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; or

(h). in receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.

Senior citizens’ availability for free legal aid are based on the rules prescribed by each State Government. Under Section 13(2) of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987

“An affidavit made by a person as to his income may be regarded as sufficient for making him eligible to the entitlement of legal services under this Act unless the concerned Authority has reason to disbelieve such an affidavit.”

3. Process for claiming free legal aid

A. Where to file the application?

Depending upon the territorial and subject matter of the case, one can approach to following authority:

  1. Taluk Legal Services Committee which is present in the premise of the Court in that Taluk;

  2. District Legal Services Authority (DSLA), present in the District Courts;

  3. State Legal Services Authority, if the matter is maintained at State Level;

  4. High Court Legal Services Committee;

  5. Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Each authority mentioned has a front office where applications can be moved. There is also an online portal of NALSA and State Legal Services Authorities for filing applications.

B. How to apply for free legal aid?

  1. One can apply for free legal aid either online or offline.

  2. The person needs to fill the application form which will be available at the nearest Legal Services Authority and submit the same either physically or by post.

  3. One can also make an application on a piece of paper by mentioning all their credentials like name, residence, gender, nationality whether SC/ST (with proof), proof of income, case for which legal aid is required and then submit it to the nearest Legal Service Authority physically or by post.

  4. Applications can also be filed online by email to NALSA (at or by filling the application form online on the official website of NALSA.

  5. A person can also orally submit his/her application to the Para Legal Volunteers, who are present in the front office of the Authority.

  6. A person seeking free legal aid can approach NALSA or any Legal Services Authorities anytime between Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m to 6 p.m. The online application form can be filled anytime as it is open 24*7.

C. Post application procedure

  1. Once the application is submitted the NALSA will direct the application to the concerned authority and further the action will be taken by that particular authority.

  2. Once the application is selected, the applicant is informed regarding the assignment of the lawyer.

  3. According to Regulation 7(2) of the National Legal Services Authority (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations 2010, a decision on the application for free legal aid is to be taken immediately and not more than 7 days from the date of the receipt of the application.

  4. Once the application is reviewed by the concerned authority, the reply regarding the application is sent either via post if submitted physically or if the application is done online then an application number is generated through which the person can keep a track on the case over the website of NALSA.

*Yashi Pandey, third year student at VIPS has curated this information.

Madras High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts


Madras High Court: A Division Bench of Munishwar Nath Bhandari and N Mala JJ. dismissed the plea seeking direction to the State granting separate reservations for transgender persons for government jobs in view of the landmark judgment National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, (2014) 5 SCC 438 wherein a Government Order has already been issued by the State to treat the transgender under the category of Most Backward Class ‘MBC' to enable themselves of the benefit of reservation in Government employment.

The present petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for a writ of Mandamus directing the State ‘respondents' to consider the representation of the President, Indian Transgender Initiative ‘petitioner' seeking reservation for the third gender in the Government jobs in reference to Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

State submitted that in the judgment National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India (2014) 5 SCC 438, a direction was given to the Central and State Governments to take steps to treat the transgender as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, and the Government of Tamil Nadu issued Government Order ‘GO Ms. No. 28' dated 06-04-2015, whereby the transgender were brought under the category of Most Backward Class under Sl No. 36C of Schedule VI in ‘GO Ms. No.85' dated 29-07-2008 for reservation of seats in educational institutions and appointments in the services of the State.

The Court thus observed that the transgender has already been brought under the category of Most Backward Classes and they are getting reservation.

The Court held “we find the present writ petition to be unnecessary, as the necessary Government Order has already been issued to treat the transgender under the category of Most Backward Class to enable them avail the benefit of reservation in Government employment.”

[P Sudha v. The Secretary, WP No. 16113 of 2022, decided on 29-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

M. Madhu Prakash, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

R.Shunmugasundaram, P. Muthukumar, Alagu Gowtham and Shakeena, Advocates, for the Respondents 1 & 2.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking suo motu cognizance of the issue relating to the expeditious trial of cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, the bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao, J has issued notice to the Union of India through Law Secretary, Registrar General of all the High Courts, the Director General of Police of all the States and Union Territories, Member Secretary of the National Legal Services Authority, Reserve Bank of India and Indian Bank Association, Mumbai as the representatives of Banking institutions.

The said action of the Court came after noticing that despite many changes brought through legislative amendments and various Supreme Court decisions mandating speedy trial and disposal of these cases, the Trial Courts are filled with large number of pendency of these cases. A recent study of the pending cases, reflects pendency of more than 35 lakh, which constitutes more than 15 percent of the total criminal cases pending in the District Courts.

Here’s is what the Court suggested whule posting the matter on April 16, 2020 for further hearing:

  • there is a need to evolve a system of service/execution of process issued by the court and ensuring the presence of the accused, with the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders like Complainant, Police and Banks.
  • an information sharing mechanism may be developed where the banks share all the requisite details available of the accused, who is the account holder, with the complainant and the police for the purpose of execution of process. This may include a requirement to print relevant information, viz the email id, registered mobile number and permanent address of the account holder, on the cheque or dishonour memo informing the holder about the dishonour.
  • RBI, being the regulatory body may also evolve guidelines for banks to facilitate requisite information for the trial of these cases and such other matters as may be required.
  • a separate software-based mechanism may be developed to track and ensure the service of process on the accused in cases relating to an offence under Section 138 of N.I. Act.
  • RBI may consider developing a new proforma of cheques so as to include the purpose of payment, along with other informations mentioned above to facilitate adjudication of real issues.
  • a mechanism may be developed to ensure the presence of the accused even by way of coercive measure, if required, taking effect from Section 83 of Cr.P.C. which allows attachment of property, including movable property.
  • an effort may be evolved to recover interim compensation under Section 143A of the N.I. Act as well as fine or compensation to be recovered as per Section 421 of Cr.P.C.
  • National Legal Services Authority, being the responsible Authority in this regard, may evolve a scheme for settlement of dispute relating to cheque bounce at pre-litigation i.e. before filing of the private complaint. An Award passed at the pre-litigation stage or pre-cognizance stage shall have an effect of a civil decree.

“This measure of prelitigation ADR process can go a long way in settling the cases before they come to Court, thereby reducing docket burden.”

  • High Courts may also consider setting up of exclusive courts to deal with matters relating to Section 138, especially in establishments where the pendency is above a standard figure. Special norms for assessment of the work of exclusive courts may also be formulated giving additional weightage to disposal of case within the time-frame as per legal requirement.

The Court appointed Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra as Amicus Curiae and Advocate K. Parameshwar to assist the amicus curiae in the matter.

[In Re: Expeditious trial of cases under Section 138 of N.I. Act, 1881, Suo Moto Writ Petition (Criminal), arising out of SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 5464 OF 2016, order dated 05.03.2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

S.O. 4277(E).— In exercise of the powers conferred under Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the President is pleased to nominate Hon’ble Shri Justice N.V. Ramana, Judge, Supreme Court of India, as Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority, with immediate effect.

Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 27-11-2019]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

S.O. 1120(E)—In exercise of the powers conferred under Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, the President is pleased to nominate Hon’ble Shri Justice S.A. Bobde, Judge, Supreme Court of India, as Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority, with effect from 7th March, 2019.

[F. No. A-60011/44/2015-LAP(JUS)]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the light of the rising misuse of Section 498-A IPC dealing with dowry deaths, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ gave the below mentioned directions to deal with the menace, except in case offences involving tangible physical injuries or death, and said that the below mentioned arrangement should be tried for at least 6 months or till 31.03.2018, after which the National Legal Services Authority will have to submit a report to the Court.

  • Family Welfare Committee:
  1. Atleast one committee to be constituted by the District Legal Services Authorities in every district, preferably comprising of three members who are para legal volunteers/social workers/retired persons/wives of working officers/other citizens who may be found suitable and willing.
  2. The constitution and working of such committees may be reviewed from time to time and at least once in a year by the District and Sessions Judge of the district who is also the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.
  3. The Committee members will not be called as witnesses.
  4. Every complaint under Section 498A received by the police or the Magistrate be referred to and looked into by such committee.
  5. Report and opinion of such committee be given to the Authority by whom the complaint is referred to it latest within one month from the date of receipt of complaint. No arrest should normally be effected before that.
  6. The report may be then considered by the Investigating Officer or the Magistrate on its own merit.
  • Investigating Officer: Complaints under Section 498A and other connected offences may be investigated only by a designated Investigating Officer of the area. He should undergo training of four months for such duration (not less than one week) as may be considered appropriate.
  • Bail: If a bail application is filed with at least one clear day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same may be decided as far as possible on the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry items may not by itself be a ground for denial of bail if maintenance or other rights of wife/minor children can otherwise be protected.
  • NRIs: In respect of persons ordinarily residing out of India impounding of passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice should not be a routine.
  • Video Conferencing: Personal appearance of all family members and particularly outstation members may not be required and the trial court ought to grant exemption from personal appearance or permit appearance by video conferencing without adversely affecting progress of the trial.

The Court said that it is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women and that most of such complaints are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues & many are not bona fide. The Court said that involvement of civil society in the aid of administration of justice can be one of the steps to remedy this situation, apart from the investigating officers and the concerned trial courts being sensitized. [Rajesh Sharma v. State of U.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 821, decided on 27.07.2017]