Justice is Supreme. We all know where justice prevails everything can be achieved, scientific development, prosperity, peace and happiness. Thus justice is the most important and vital element for any state to prosper and with prosperity its citizen would be peaceful and secure.
As political philosopher; Charles de Montesquieu rightly said that; “In the state of nature…all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of the law.”
The mere purpose of a legal system would be defeated if justice is not equally available to all even to the poorest of the poor. We should all have equal access to the legal system irrespective of our financial status. Reinald Herber Smith in his 1919 book, Justice and the Poor, coined the idea of free legal aid to all. Thus, providing legal aid to the poor and the underprivileged is the core element of a legal system.
Our Constitution also reaffirms its endeavor to provide justice to all. The preamble of the Constitution secures to its citizens- social, economic and political justice. Article 14 of the Constitution makes it clear that the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. The aim of Article 14 is to ensure equal justice.
Aritcle 39A was inserted in the Constitution by the 42nd amendment Act in 1976.It directed the state to provide free Legal aid by suitable legislation.
In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted by the Parliament with an object to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society on the basis of equal opportunity. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted to monitor and evaluate implementation of legal services available under the Act It performs variety of functions from proving legal Aid, organizing Legal aid camps, organizing Lok Adalats.
The major drawback of legal aid movement in India is the lack of legal awareness. People are not aware of rights and protection available under the law. The need of the hour is to promote awareness regarding legal aid to all and not to depend entirely on the Legal Fraternity to do it.