According to NALSA's Early Access to Justice at Pre-Arrest, Arrest and Remand Stage framework, legal aid is now guaranteed right at the early stages when a person is brought to the police station for questioning before the arrest takes place.

What is Free Legal Aid?

Last updated on May 28, 2024

Free legal aid means providing legal services, free of cost, to certain sections of the society like a beggar, differently-abled person, etc., as and when required. This does not mean that anyone can go and ask for legal aid. You have to be eligible to apply for it.


The purpose of providing legal aid is to ensure that no person is deprived of legal services and justice due to lack of money1. You can get free legal aid when:

  • You cannot afford to pay or engage a lawyer to represent you in court or for any other purpose. For example, you can get legal aid when you are appealing your sentence2, or if you are appearing in front of the Magistrate for the first time(( Khatri II Vs. the State of Bihar, (1981) 1SCC; 1981 SCC (Cri) 228; 1981 Cri. LJ 470.)) etc.
  • You want legal advice, legal services or legal steps to take for a problem.
  • You need help with getting legal documents ready.
  • You need help to pay court fees for a case or any other fee required for legal processes
  • You want to apply for compensation or get money through the Court.


You have a constitutional right to legal aid3, which means that the state is constitutionally bound to provide legal aid to you at all stages i.e. not only at the stage of trial but also when you are first produced before the Magistrate or let off on bail, etc. Legal aid authorities cannot deny you this right stating excuses or reasons like the fact that you did not ask for help or that the authorities have financial or administrative constraints4. If you are eligible for legal aid, you have every right to get it. 


Please note that this explainer only gives a general central overview of the procedures in relation to getting free legal aid, and the procedure varies across states. 

  1.  FAQs, National Legal Service Authority, []
  2. Madav Hayavadanrao Hoskot Vs. State of Maharastra (1978)3 SCC 544. []
  3. Article 22, 39-A, Constitution of India, 1950; Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar [(1980) 1 SCC 98]. []
  4. Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar [(1980) 1 SCC 98] []

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Related Resources

How to Apply for Legal Aid?

While applying for legal aid, you will require at least proof of identification and an affidavit proving you are eligible for legal aid.

Guide on Applying for Legal Aid

The Nyaaya Guide on Applying for Legal Aid helps citizens understand how to obtain legal services free-of-cost from Legal Services Authorities in India.

Eligibility for Legal Aid

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 and the genuineness of your case.

Denial/Withdrawal of Legal Aid Services

After you fill out your application for legal aid, it can be denied or accepted. It can also be withdrawn at a later stage after the application has been accepted and legal aid has been provided.

Where do you go for Legal Aid

You can approach the State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities, Supreme Court Legal Services Committees and the High Court Legal Services Committees for applying for legal aid.

Legal Services

Legal services are any service with respect to a case or any other legal proceeding before any Court, authority or tribunal. Getting legal advice is also a part of legal service.