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Background

                            The constitution promotes equal justice to all its citizens. Article 14 of the Constitution provides that the State shall not deny to any person equality before Law or equal protection of laws within territory of India. Article-38 further envisages that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, economic and political shall inform all institutions of national life. In spite of such constitutional promise the poor, illiterate, weaker sections in our country suffer day in and out in their struggle for survival. They are unable to approach the appropriate courts of law on account of their poverty and ignorance of their legal rights even though they suffer injustice. In such situation they feel that equality and freedom are the rights which are to be enjoyed by the privileged and few. Keeping in view the above scenario of the society the Law Commission of India in its 14 th Report (1958) observed as follows:

                          “Equality before the law necessarily involves the concept that all the parties to a proceeding in which justice is sought must have an equal opportunity of access to the court and of presenting their cases to the court. But the access to the courts is by law made dependent upon the payment of court fees, and the assistance of skilled lawyers is in most cases necessary for the proper presentation of a party’s case in a court of law. In so far as a person unable to obtain access to a court of law for having his wrongs redressed or for defending himself against a criminal charge, justice becomes unequal and laws which are meant for his protection have no meaning and to that extent fail in their purpose.

                          Unless some provision is made for assisting the poor man to pay court-fee and lawyer’s fees and other incidental costs of litigation, he is denied equality in the opportunity to seek justice”.

                          In order to over come such situation and to provide access to justice for all the Parliament by its 42nd Amendment incorporated Article 39-A in the Constitution which directed Government for providing equal justice and free Legal Aid to indigent persons who are unable to fight for justice by reason of economic and other disabilities.

                         “Article 39-A. Equal justice and free legal aid-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 disabilities.”

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Last Updated : 23/07/2016