If you want legal aid, you will need to go to a legal service authority. Once you approach the authority, they will check:
- Whether you are eligible for legal aid.
You are eligible based on two criteria: – either based on who you are or as per the income you get. You only need to qualify for one of these criterias to be eligible for receiving legal aid.
- Genuine nature of your case
After checking whether you are eligible for legal aid, the authority will then check if you have a genuine case to prosecute or to defend1. This discretion lies with the authorities and they will take the final call on whether your case itself requires legal aid. There is no bar as to which kind of cases you can apply and not apply for. However, if certain conditions are fulfilled, your legal aid may be withdrawn.
Persons who can apply for legal aid
The following persons can apply for legal aid irrespective of their income2:
- A member of the scheduled castes or tribes;
- A victim of human trafficking or a beggar;
- Any disabled person, including persons who are mentally disabled3;
- A woman or child;
- A victim of mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster and other cases of undeserved want;
- An industrial workman;
- Those in custody, including protective custody4, juvenile home5, psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home 6
- Any person facing a charge which might result in imprisonment7.
Maximum Income Earned
A person receiving an annual income less than the amount as mentioned below can apply for legal aid within their own State8:
|State||Income Ceiling Limit|
|Andhra Pradesh||Rs. 3,00,000/-|
|Arunachal Pradesh||Rs. 1,00,000/-|
|Assam||Rs. 3, 00, 000/-|
|Himachal Pradesh||Rs. 3,00,000/-|
|Jammu & Kashmir||Rs. 1,00,000/-|
|Madhya Pradesh||Rs. 1,00,000|
|Tamil Nadu||Rs. 3,00,000|
|Uttar Pradesh||Rs. 1,00,000|
|West Bengal||Rs. 1,00,000|
|Andaman & Nicobar Islands||Rs.3,00,000|
|Dadra & Nagar Haveli||Rs. 15,000|
|Daman & Diu||Rs. 1,00,000|
|Delhi||General – 1,00,000|
Transgender – 2,00,000
Senior Citizen – 2,00,000
To prove your income, you can submit an affidavit as proof of income to the authorities. This affidavit will be scrutinized by the authorities and the discretion to allow your application lies with the authority9. To make an affidavit, take the help of a lawyer.
- Section 13, Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.
- Section 12, Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.
- Section 7 (4) (c), Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
- Section 2 (g), Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- Section (g) of Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987.
- Khatri II Vs. State of Bihar, (1981) 1SCC
- FAQs, National Legal Service Authority, https://nalsa.gov.in/faqs.
- Section 13(2), Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.