The constitution of India postulates a society in which social, economic, and legal justice is available to all on the basis that they are equal. To enforce the constitutional mandate of equality before the laws, the State has to ensure access to justice, that is to say, that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability. According to a new concept, when a poor litigant is compelled to contest the case against a rich person, he should not only be given financial legal aid but the poor downtrodden person should also be furnished aid with advice and assistance in the settlement of disputes by negotiation, conciliation, compromise, arbitration or any other means. This could be possible only when we change our outlook and re-orient our thinking process and then the theme of social justice is able to change the fate of the poor litigants.
The Constitution of India furnishes equality before the law and equal protection of laws, irrespective of caste, race, religion, wealth, or status. In India, various legal provisions relating to free legal aid are available for the help of poor litigants.
(A) CONSTITUTIONAL: The preamble of the Constitution of India aims at giving justice social, economic, and political to every citizen of India. If the fundamental rights, sanctioned wider Articles 14, 19, and 21, provided in favor of the citizens of India are violated, the constitutional remedies are meaningless until and unless the poor litigant is not provided with proper help. 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India inserted Article 39-A, providing for social justice and free legal aid for poor litigants. In the same way, Article 51-A was inserted, which enshrines a sacred fundamental duty in the sphere of aid and advice to the poor and downtrodden litigants.
(B) OTHER LAWS:
1. There are provisions in the Advocate Act, of 1966, which are helpful for encouraging free legal aid to poor litigants.
2. In the prosecutions under section 302 I.P.C., the poor accused persons are allowed, free defense counsels.
3. In Motor Vehicle Act accident claim petition, a poor litigant is entitled to get free legal aid.
4. In the Consumer Protection Act complaint, no Court fee is levied.
5. Order 33 of the Civil Procedure Code allows to file of suits for indigent persons without paying any prescribed Court fee.
6. Similar provisions are there for the appeals by indigent/ poor litigants.
7. Order 33 Rule 18 of the Civil procedure Code provides that the subject of the provisions of this Order, the Central Government or State Government was empowered to make supplementary provisions providing free legal services to indigent persons.
8. Various States have passed their Legal Aid Rules in this regard for providing free legal aid, advice, and support to poor/ indigent litigants.
9. Some Universities have also shown their interest to implement legal aid schemes.
Great Hope that the State Government, Universities, District Collector, Bar Associations, Social Workers, Political Parties, N.G.O.s, and Rich Persons should come forward to help the needy downtrodden litigants in the Courts.
This awareness may make happy to the poor and downtrodden litigants and thus the goal of socio-economic justice may be achieved.
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