As per the Fundamental Right, it is guaranteed to all the citizen of India under the Constitution of India to have the access to the justice. It has been observed that many litigants are unable to access the provided services due to the lack of knowledge to the self. Legal battle is more painful than the person ongoing personal battle for which the individual has moved to the court. It has been observed many times that the Individual suffers more to get the justice in the Court. Having the lengthy procedure and the unquoted charges involved in legal battle the impact does arise on the pocket of the litigant also.

In India, the intent to introduce the free legal aid was based to provide the support to the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of the society. The Legal Aid empowers the weaker section of the society such as the poor, women, children and those having background of Scheduled castes and tribes

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What is Free Legal Aid ?

The Legal Aid provision was regulated in India by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and accordingly the National Legal Services Authority popularly known as NALSA was established at the National Level. Simultaneously the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) was established at the State Level to the eligible individual and groups.

The Legal Aid Services come from the concept of Latin Word “Probono” which mean “for the public good.

The Act mandates the respective authorities to provide free legal advice through many ways, which are Legal aid Clinics, Mobile Legal Services and Legal Literacy Campaign. The Act also define and provide the mandates for the appointment of legal aid counsel to represent the litigants in the legal proceeding who can not afford or eligible under the given norms as per the act.

Fundamental Right, it is guaranteed to all the citizen of India under the Constitution of India to have the access to the justice (Free Legal Aid)
Credit: Pexels

What is the provision of Legal Aid in India?

Jurist in India have given deep thought considering the ongoing pain to the litigants and accordingly have advised to draft the policies. Undoubtly India legal framework is evolving day by day considering requirement and need of society however, there are certain needs which are universal and shall always be there. Below are some of provisions, which were brought or introduced to the system for the betterment of the citizen of India:-

Right to Free Legal Aid

Under Article 39 A of the Constitution of India, it mandates the right to free legal aid for the individual or litigants who is unable to bear the cost of the lawyer or below poverty line.  The state is bound and shall secure the operation of the legal system to promote the justice, on the basis of equal opportunity, and provide the free legal advice under the prescribed schemes to promote the equality and harmony with the clear thought on “equal justice and free legal aid”

Article 39 in The Constitution Of India 1949

“39. Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State: The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing

(a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means to livelihood;”

Legal Aid Act, 1987

This act gave the provision for the establishment of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to enforce, implement and foresee the impact of the provision of the services defined in Legal Aid Act, 1987. The Act was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1987 which came to the force on 9th November, 1995.

Legal Aid Clinics

As per the Hon’ble Supreme Court guidelines, government has been regularly setting such clinics precisely known as Legal Aid Clinics across the Country. The Objective is same as to support the underprivileged group/individual of society.

National Mission for Legal Aid Services

National Mission for Legal Aid was introduced by the Government in 2010 to enhance the quality of legal framework making justice easily available or may say access of justice to all and cater the poor section of society in looking after the legal support.

National Policy on Legal Aid

National Policy was introduced by the Ministry of Law and Justice in the year 2009 to provide the support and access to the judicial process to have the justice.

Who is Eligible to get the Legal Aid in India or who can avail free legal aid services?

As briefed above the main the purpose to introduce the free Legal Aid in India is majorly to support the underprivileged individual or group who have no capacity or no financial stability to pay to get the justice. The intent behind is clearly visible the way it is been implemented such as Free Legal Aid Clinic, National Policy on Legal Aid introduction etc. Below are the categories which are eligible to get the free legal advice in India which are:


Female are the majorly impacted segment of the society which is suffering both the financial and physical status in the matter such as Domestic Violence, Matrimonial Dispute, Harassment etc. One side the Women is suffering through mental trauma on the other side struggle to bear the cost of litigation. In such cases of discrimination, domestic violence, Maintenance etc the women may approach the free legal aid support and take the benefit of legal services covered under free legal aid in India.

Persons and Disabilities

Litigants (Individual/Group) who has disability in the prescribed manner may approach the respective authority for free legal aid.


Children who are unable to sustain self and have conflict with the law or other legal support also considered as eligible.

Marginal Communities

Litigants from the Marginal Communities are also considered as eligible under the above stated policy. Marginal Communities herewith is to be understood as the underprivileged society or sect which is brought on gazette of India such Schedule Cast, Other Backward Class (OBC)-from Non Creamy Layer, Scheduled Tribe Etc are eligible under this category.

Indigent Persons

At the last, here the group or individual is covered who are unable to bear the cost of litigation and submit the oath in the form of affidavit where post satisfaction of Legal Aid Authority the Free Legal Aid Services are extended.

To be noted here with that in most of the cases, it depends upon the jurisdiction and specific legal aid organization discretion also to whom to give such support on fixed parameters.

What is the Benefit of Free Legal Aid Services?

The basic understanding of Free Legal Aid Services is to get the affordable framework for the underprivileged society from wide range of individual, including those who are accused of crimes, women children. Though the benefits of Free Legal Aid is indispensable and can not measured but below are some of the outcome which were expected and may be noticed:

Fundamental Right Protection

Access to Justice

Awareness of Legal Rights

Reduction of Poverty

Reduction of Burden on the Justice System

In the recent past the Government and Judicial System have come forward and created the legal framework to improve the accessibility of justice to the every litigants who are unable to bear the cost of litigation.

How to Get Free Legal Aid in India?

The litigants (individual or group) can approach the below authority for the free legal aid with submission of incapability of unable to bear the cost of litigation which are

National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)

State Legal Services Authorities

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Legal Aid Clinics

One can also approach the Hon’ble Court where the matter is pending or have jurisdiction to file with the submission of incapability of unable to bear the cost where the Hon’ble Court can direct the respective authority to take care the litigation without any cost.

In some of the matter at Hon’ble Supreme Court it has been observed that the Apex Court in finding of the financial constraint appoint “Amicus Curie” to the court under the provision of Probono.

Landmark Judgements of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India

Fundamental Right, it is guaranteed to all the citizen of India under the Constitution of India to have the access to the justice (Free Legal Aid)
Credit: Pexels

The Apex Court have at many occasion whether it is in any matter or in the open forum have shared its view for easy access of legal support to every litigant be it whether the individual or group is able to bear or not. Below are some of the notable judgements which have given the precise guidelines to the Government and Judicial Machinery in providing the justice to everyone:

Hussainara Khatoon vs. Home Secretary, State of Bihar (1979)

Here in this Case the Hon’ble Apex Court set the precedents that all detainees/accused, regardless of the nature of their crime or any illegal action, have the right to free legal representation if they are unable to afford it and willing to take such services.

“Free legal services to the poor and the needy is an essential element of any ‘reasonable, fair and just’ procedure. It is not necessary to quote authorative pronouncements by judges and jurists in support of the view that without the service of a lawyer an accused person would be denied ‘reasonable, fair and just’ procedure”

“We would strongly recommend to the Government of India and the State Governments that it is high time that a comprehensive legal service programme is introduced in the country. That is not only a mandate of equal justice implicit in Article 14 and right to life and liberty conferred by Article 21, but also the compulsion of the constitutional directive embodied in Article 39A.

Read Citation: Hussainara Khatoon & Ors vs Home Secretary, State Of Bihar

MC Mehta vs. Union of India (1987)

In this ruling the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that access to justice is a fundamental right and ordered the government to provide free legal advice to the poor and underprivileged as observed in below statement:

“Where constitutional fundamentals vital to the maintenance of human rights are at stake, functional realism and not facial cosmetics must be the diagnostic tool for constitu- tional law must seek the substance and not the form. Now it is obvious that the Government may through the instrumental- ity or agency of natural persons or it may employ the in- strumentality or agency of judicial persons to carry out its functions.

It is really the Government which acts through the instrumentality or agency of the corporation and the juristic veil of corporate personality worn for the purpose of convenience of management and administration cannot be allowed to obliterate the true nature of the reality behind which is the Government ….. (for if the Government acting through its officers is subject to certain constitu- tional limitations it must follow a fortiorari that the Government acting through the instrumentality or agency of a corporation should be equality subject to the same limita- tions”.

Read Citation: M.C. Mehta And Anr vs Union Of India & Ors

People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India (1997)

In this matter, In order to give free legal representation to people who cannot afford it, the Supreme Court ordered the government to establish legal aid clinics in each district.

Read Citation: People’S Union Of Civil Liberties … vs Union Of India (Uoi) And Anr.

Mohini Jain vs. State of Karnataka (1992)

The Supreme Court ruled in this case that the right to unrestricted legal representation is a fundamental freedom and an integral part of the more general right to life and personal liberty protected by Article 21 of the Constitution. The court also ruled that everyone has the right to free legal help if they are unable to hire an attorney because of their financial situation or another disability, not just those who have been charged.

Read Citation: Miss Mohini Jain vs State Of Karnataka And Ors

D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997)

The Supreme Court ruled in this case that the right to unrestricted legal assistance is an essential component of the rule of law and an essential component of the administration of justice. The court stressed the value of free legal assistance in ensuring that the underprivileged and excluded groups in society have equal access to justice.

Read Citation: Shri Dilip K. Basu Etc.Ashok K. … vs State Of West Bengal & Or

Shatrughan Chauhan vs. Union of India (2014)

The Supreme Court ruled in this case that the right to free legal representation is a human right and that the State is required to give the accused and those who are unable to hire an attorney free legal representation. The right to free legal representation was further highlighted by the court as being crucial to ensuring that justice is not only carried out but also seen to be carried out.

Read Citation: Shatrughan Chauhan & Anr vs Union Of India & Ors


In conclusion, free legal aid is an essential component of the Indian legal system that aims to ensure that everyone has access to justice regardless of their financial situation. Increased public knowledge of these services’ accessibility and an expansion of their geographic scope are still required, though. To help those in need, the government, NGOs, legal aid clinics, and other groups work to offer free legal assistance. Some of the key steps put in place to guarantee that free legal advice is available to all qualified individuals are the Legal Services Authorities Act and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).


The views expressed in the blogs are purely the authors’ own, and they are not intended to offend anyone or to be prejudicial toward or against any individual, group of individuals, society, sex, gender, race, creed, nation, or religion, or any other term that is even remotely and closely connected. Legal-Varta is a platform for disseminating knowledge so that everyone can comprehend the legal system better. In order to avoid any misrepresentation and since it is even not advisable to do so, only content that is directly related to the Law and Statute is included in the articles. If any misrepresentation is discovered, however, we are willing to amend it because it is only for everyone’s advantage.

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