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page.png 53 Manpower Malady: Managing Legal Aid Institutions

Shruthi Naik



Provision of legal aid is crucial in ensuring access to justice. Since the judiciary in India is overburdened with a burgeoning caseload, allowing it to optimally use judicial time is imperative to reduce backlog. At the same time, it is crucial that members of the judiciary, as administrators of legal aid, devote adequate time to ensuring effective provision of legal aid. How can a balance be struck between both these important functions, which compete for judges’ time and attention? In this chapter, the author examines the working of the legal services authorities in India against the backdrop of available judicial manpower, and reviews legal aid models followed internationally, in order to propose an alternative model that can aid the judiciary in managing the administration of legal aid efficiently.

. . . . .

In order to bridge the gap between the weaker strata of society and the monetary demands of the formal legal system, most legal systems today provide for the right to legal aid. Legal aid refers to the concept of providing a support mechanism to socially or economically weaker sections of society in order to ensure that they are provided equal opportunities to secure justice. The Constitution of India is the cornerstone of the legal aid system; it mandates that ‘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’.1


page.png 54 With about 21.92 per cent2 of the population of India living below the poverty line, an efficient system of legal aid is of paramount importance. In order to fulfil the requirements of a formal system of legal aid, the Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act, 1987. The LSA Act is implemented by entities across four levels (national, state, district, and taluk) with each of these entities being presided over by judicial officers of various standing. The organisational structure and leadership of the authorities as envisaged under the LSA Act is set out in Figure 1.3

FIGURE 1. Organogram of Legal Services Authorities and Committees

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is the nodal authority, and has been entrusted with wide functions to fulfil the mandate of the LSA Act. Its functions include framing schemes to make legal services4 available, allocating funds to authorities, organising legal aid camps, spreading legal awareness, monitoring the implementation of legal aid programmes, and engaging in social justice litigation.5

State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) are set up in every state and each of them is responsible for ensuring that the directions provided to it by NALSA are put into effect. The functions of SLSAs include providing legal services to those who are eligible, conducting Lok Adalats, and undertaking legal aid programmes.6 District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) are set up in the districts, and each of them is responsible for ensuring that the directions provided to it by the SLSA are put into effect. The functions of DLSAs include coordination page.png 55 of activities of the Taluk Legal Services Committees (TLSCs), ensuring legal services within the district, as well as organising Lok Adalats.7

In addition to establishing authorities, the LSA Act envisages the setting up of committees at three levels, the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee (SCLSC), the High Court Legal Services Committee (HCLSC), and the TLSC. The functions of the SCLSC include receiving applications for legal services, maintaining a panel of advocates to provide legal advice, implementing legal services programmes that relate to the Supreme Court, determining costs related to legal services, and submitting reports to the NALSA.8 The functions of the HCLSCs mirror the functions of the SCLSC, but are to be performed at the state level and these functions have been prescribed by their SLSAs under state-specific regulations.9 The functions of the TLSCs are to coordinate legal services activities within the taluk and organise Lok Adalats within the taluk.10

The functions of judicial officers who preside over the various Legal Services Institutions11 vary based on the designations of officers. For instance, the committee constituted to evaluate applications received for legal aid is set up by the Executive Chairman/Chairman of the Legal Services Institution; however, the Member-Secretary/Secretary of the Legal Services Institution must act as the committee’s chairman and is responsible for evaluating the applications received. If any persons are aggrieved by the decision of the committee, they may appeal to the Executive Chairman/Chairman.12 With respect to the selection of panel lawyers, it is the function of the Executive Chairman/Chairman of the Legal Services Institution to scrutinise and select lawyers to be empanelled.13 However, some functions must be performed jointly by the Executive Chairman/Chairman along with the Member-Secretary/Secretary, such as the task of monitoring the legal services rendered and progress of the cases.14

Having gained some insight into the working of the Legal Services Institutions and the functions of the judicial officers who preside over these institutions, it is worthwhile to look at the magnitude of responsibility on the judiciary in the administration of legal aid. In order to determine the extent of judicial manpower required under the current scheme of legal aid in the country, I collected data based on publicly available information and through right to information (RTI) applications.15 As per the information collected, across the 36 SLSAs in the country, there are 36 HCLSCs, 605 DLSAs, and 2,217 TLSCs (refer Annexure A for a state-wise count of DLSAs and TLSCs).16 Given that each SLSA should have two judges of the High Court and one judge from the subordinate judiciary (Member-Secretary),17 each HCLSC should have one judge of the High Court,18 each DLSA should have two judges from the subordinate judiciary (Chairman and Secretary),19 and each TLSC should have one judge from the subordinate judiciary (Chairman),20 the entire framework for SLSAs, HCLSCs, DLSAs, and TLSCs across the country will require 102 judges across High Courts and 3,463 judges from the subordinate judiciary to carry out the functions prescribed by the LSA Act.21


While the structure of the legal aid system envisages a significant amount of judicial manpower and extensive functions, the amount of time and effort that goes into the system is difficult to quantify. To get a better understanding of this, I spoke to Ms Uma M.G.22 about the functioning of the Karnataka SLSA and discovered that judicial officers devote page.png 56 considerable time and effort on a daily basis towards the functioning of the Legal Services Institutions. The Member-Secretary revealed that the Patron-in-chief/Executive Chairman and Member-Secretary meet on almost all working days to discuss the activities of the SLSA. Ms Uma stated that considerable time is spent on deciding petitions received from people regarding problems they have with other departments, such as the labour department, social welfare department, housing department, etc. When such petitions are received, they are examined and then referred to the relevant department for further action; however, since the SLSA receives around 150 petitions in a month, acting on the petitions takes up a significant amount of time. These petitions are in addition to the 15 legal aid applications23 (approximately) that her office receives every month, which are also applications that the Member-Secretary has to consider and send to the panel advocates. In addition to attending to its day-to-day functions, the KSLSA holds meetings with its members once every three months to take stock of the activities of the KSLSA. The DLSAs are to provide a monthly report to the Member-Secretary regarding activities within their jurisdiction. The Member-Secretary reviews these reports and discusses them with the Executive Chairman in case of any abnormalities in the reports.

Ms Uma opined that while having the judiciary on board the Legal Services Institution is undoubtedly a requisite to ensure adequate access to justice, carrying out the functions envisaged under the LSA Act can be quite strenuous for persons who also have to attend to regular judicial functions. This is especially so in the case of the DLSAs, as chairpersons are mostly sitting district judges and not judges who work with the Legal Services Institutions on deputation. Further, work at the DLSA level can be said to be more difficult at times due to the lack of adequate support staff.


Given the number of judicial officers required to put the LSA Act into effect and the time and effort needed on their part, a question that requires examination is whether judicial officers are the most suitable and appropriate office-bearers to carry out these functions. The first comprehensive study on the state of legal aid was carried out by the Committee on Legal Aid and Legal Advice chaired by Justice N.H. Bhagwati which provided a detailed report in October 1949 on the question of legal aid. During this period, there was not much effort being poured into legal aid, and most assistance people received was either through societies such as the Bombay Legal Aid Society or under existing civil and criminal laws.24 Upon examining the state of affairs of the legal aid system at the time, the Committee on Legal Aid and Legal Advice recommended that a scheme of legal aid be administered by committees across four levels — taluk level, district level, state level, and in each court. It was recommended that retired judicial officers, if available, be a part of the committees at the taluk, district, and court levels, but a judge of the High Court be part of the state committee.25 Similar recommendations were also given in 1949 by the committee headed by Sir Arthur Trevor Harries, the then Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. The committee recommended setting up of legal aid authorities at the level of the High Court, city court, and at the district level, with the High Court committee consisting of members of the bar association and the other two authorities consisting of judicial officers as well as members of the bar association.26

In 1958, the 14th Report of the Law Commission of India discussed in depth the responsibility of the state in ensuring the provision of legal aid to those in need and recommended that states must adopt, with suitable modifications, recommendations of page.png 57 the Justice N.H. Bhagwati Committee and the Trevor Harries Committee in addition to bar associations taking initiatives to provide legal aid on a voluntary basis.

Subsequently, a report submitted by the committee headed by Justice P.N. Bhagwati in 1971 recommended that committees should be formed at the taluk, district, and state level in order to provide for legal aid.27 This was followed by the 1973 report by the Expert Committee on Legal Aid headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, where the committee examined at length the various aspects of legal aid, including the role of the judiciary in the legal aid system. The committee was of the opinion that since the judiciary is the guardian of justice, an efficient system of legal aid must necessarily contain judicial presence to instil public confidence in the system. That said, the committee also stated that ‘this does not necessarily mean that the judiciary as such should be entrusted with the implementation of what is basically a social welfare project which calls for talent of a different kind’.28 The committee warned that the top judicial officers must not be implicated in the day-to-day functioning of legal aid and a separate executing chairman or director general must be appointed to oversee the same. The committee was of the opinion that it would suffice if such executing chairman or director general was an eminent person in the field of advocacy with social service and administrative experience.29 In terms of the structure of the authorities, the committee recommended authorities at the national, state, Supreme Court, High Court, district, and taluk levels, with judicial officers at each of the levels but recommended setting up separate executive bodies at the state and national levels, which would have the primary function of overseeing the day-to-day activities of the bodies, with the executive chairmen being persons who possess legal and administrative expertise as well as are (or have been) qualified to be judges of the High Court or Supreme Court, as the case may be.30

It was in 1977 that a committee consisting of Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer recommended the establishment of a National Legal Services Authority.31 As Article 39-A was introduced during this time by means of the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, the Government of India in 1980 constituted the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes (CILAS) under the chairmanship of Justice P.N. Bhagwati to implement legal aid programmes across all states. Although CILAS prepared a model programme under which legal aid boards were set up across the country, since certain deficiencies were pointed out, a need to set up statutory legal authorities was felt. This led to the enactment of the LSA Act, which set up the legal aid system in India as we know it today.32

Throughout the history of the making of the LSA Act, it was acknowledged that the judiciary undoubtedly ought to play a role in the administration of legal aid. Inclusion of the judiciary helps to instil public confidence in the system, and their involvement is critical since legal aid is a core component in ensuring justice. However, at the same time, it was acknowledged that administering legal aid requires a significant amount of time and effort, which may be better provided by retired judicial officers or persons who were qualified to be judges, since appointing such persons would ensure that undue burden is not placed on serving judicial officers whose time may be more efficiently expended in the adjudication of disputes. However, in a writ petition filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association, where the question was whether a retired judge must be allowed to serve as the executive chairman, the Supreme Court held that the rule must be to appoint a sitting judge as much as possible and only if there are any unusual difficulties can a retired judge be appointed to the posts under the LSA Act.33 In this case, NALSA stated in its affidavit that a sitting judge may be able to deal with other judicial officers, non-governmental page.png 58 organisations, and government officers more effectively than a retired judge, and hence submitted that sitting judges must, as much as possible, hold posts under the LSA Act.


Time spent by judicial officers to perform functions under the LSA Act cannot be looked at in isolation. Given that a substantial amount of work under the LSA Act is the responsibility of subordinate judicial officers in the system, and the entire system requires about 3,463 subordinate judicial officers (as discussed earlier), we must look at the time that these judicial officers can spare, given the number of pendency cases, sanctioned judge strength, and working judge strength. To illustrate this, Figure 2 shows the number of subordinate judicial officers required as per the current structure of the authorities under the LSA Act as well as the sanctioned judge strength, working judge strength, and the number of pending cases in the subordinate judiciary as on 30 September 2016.34

FIGURE 2. Subordinate Judiciary Pendency, Judge Strength, and Legal Service Officials

Note: The number of pending cases are expressed in millions.

page.png 59 There are some interesting observations to be made from Figure 2. For instance, the subordinate courts in Uttar Pradesh have the highest pendency rates and the highest number of subordinate judicial officers required to perform functions under the LSA Act — around 26 per cent of the current subordinate judiciary workforce is required to take out time from their adjudicatory roles in order to perform their functions under the LSA Act. Further, Maharashtra — with the second highest pendency levels in the subordinate judiciary — is also the state with the second highest number of subordinate judicial officers who perform functions under the LSA Act. However, as Maharashtra has the highest working strength in the subordinate judiciary, only around 16 per cent of their subordinate judicial officers perform functions under the LSA Act. Turning to West Bengal (and Andaman and Nicobar), while the pendency is around 85 per cent of that of Maharashtra, its working subordinate judicial strength is only around 39 per cent of that of Maharashtra. However, as Legal Services Authorities for this region are fewer in number, only around 11 per cent of their subordinate judiciary is required to dedicate time towards legal aid administration.

The case of Bihar and Gujarat, the third and fourth states in terms of high pendency levels, are unique, because both these states have the highest differences in the sanctioned judicial strength and working judicial strength. However, as Bihar has fewer Legal Services Authorities as compared to Gujarat,35 only around 10 per cent of the subordinate judiciary is required to dedicate time towards legal aid administration, whereas around 25 per cent of the subordinate judiciary in Gujarat performs both adjudicatory functions and functions under the LSA Act. It must be remembered here that since the population and number of talukas of Bihar are higher than those of Gujarat,36 it may be ideal in the interests of access to justice that the number of legal services authorities in the state increase, and in such an event, the percentage of the judiciary who devote time towards legal aid would also increase.

If we were to look at the overall percentage of subordinate judicial officers carrying out functions under the LSA Act, given the subordinate judicial working strength in a state, on an average around 38 per cent of the subordinate judicial officers in a state distribute their time between adjudication and legal aid administration!37 Given that there are about two crore cases currently pending in the subordinate courts across India, what we ought to consider is this: is it absolutely essential for our judicial officers to perform non-adjudicatory functions? While non-judicial officers can perform non-adjudicatory functions, non-judicial officers cannot perform adjudicatory functions and therefore a systemic change may be overdue to help ease the workload of the judiciary and allow them to use their time efficiently.


As our existing legal aid system functions primarily due to the work of serving judicial officers, and historically, it has been recommended that members of the judiciary administer the legal aid system, it may be useful to look at some models being followed internationally. Since India is the second-most populous country in the world, the largest democracy, and unique owing to its socio-economic diversity, there is no other similar country whose legal aid model and efficacy we could compare to the legal aid system of India. However, based on India being a common law country, in this section, I will consider the structure and functions of five legal aid systems across jurisdictions influenced by the page.png 60 common law system: Hong Kong (in China), New South Wales (in Australia), Ontario (in Canada), Scotland, and South Africa.

Hong Kong

The Legal Aid Department (LAD) of Hong Kong is the nodal authority which administers legal aid in Hong Kong. The LAD, a statutory body,38 is headed by the Director of Legal Aid, a person appointed by the chief executive and who is qualified to practise as a legal practitioner.39 The LAD is split into three primary verticals: the application and processing division, the policy and administration division, and the litigation division. Each of these verticals is headed by deputy directors of legal aid and assistant directors of legal aid and are further divided based on the functions of the personnel. The deputy directors of legal aid and assistant directors of legal aid are also appointed by the chief executive and must possess the same qualifications as a director of legal aid. Further, turning to the functions carried out by these persons, much like the Indian system, the director is the person responsible for taking decisions regarding maintaining panels of counsels and solicitors, waiving financial eligibility ceilings, the scope of legal representation, directing enquiries regarding the legal aid applications received, granting or refusing to grant legal aid certificates, etc. The application and processing division as well as the litigation division are then further managed by assistant principal legal aid counsels, who are also appointed by the chief executive.40 The policy and administration division is assisted in its management by a departmental secretary and a departmental accountant.

The LAD also works with the Legal Aid Services Council, a statutory authority41 set up to supervise the provision of legal aid as well as provide policy-level recommendations to the chief executive. The Legal Aid Services Council consists of members including the director of the LAD, two barristers, two solicitors, and members chosen from other fields. While the Legal Aid Services Council is not responsible for the direct administration of legal aid, having a separate body to oversee the administration of legal aid from outside the system and engage with stakeholders outside the LAD can help serve as a check and act as a mirror to the system, which can provide periodic recommendations on areas of betterment.

Therefore, although the nature of functions carried out by officers of the LAD are similar to the nature of functions carried out by office bearers of the legal aid authorities in India, the Hong Kong model varies significantly from the Indian system in that qualified legal practitioners are in charge of administering legal aid and no members of the judiciary are required to perform these functions.

New South Wales

The Legal Aid Commission, a statutory body constituted under the Legal Aid Commission Act, 1979, is responsible for the administration of legal aid in New South Wales. The Commission is headed by a chief executive officer whose responsibility is to manage the day-to-day management of the Commission. The chief executive officer may or may not be a barrister or solicitor and is appointed by the minister for a term not exceeding five years.42 The organisational structure of the Commission also envisages the chief executive officer to be assisted by a deputy chief executive officer and directors in charge of specific verticals such as criminal law, civil law, finance, human resources, information and technology, etc., with each of these directors possessing experience and skills of working in the related field.43

The Legal Aid Commission also has a board, which is responsible for establishing policies and page.png 61 preparing plans for the Commission. The board consists of the chief executive officer and nine part-time members; the members must include a representative from the Bar association, a person to represent community welfare interests, a person to represent bodies that provide community legal services, persons who possess skills that would benefit the board, etc.44

As can be seen, the model followed by New South Wales largely focuses on requiring persons to possess the experience and skill to handle the functions that they are entrusted with, so much so that it does not even mandate the chief executive officer, the key person responsible for the day-to-day management of legal aid, to be or have been a barrister or solicitor. Further, the model does not envisage the involvement of the judiciary in administering legal aid and employs legal practitioners as directors in charge of the verticals related to criminal law and civil law.


Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is a statutory corporation established under the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998 to administer legal aid within the province of Ontario, Canada. The members of the LAO consist of members of its board of directors who are to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council;45 the members of the board shall include a chairperson and other members who ought to be selected such that the board as a whole possesses knowledge and experience in areas such as business, management, financial matters, law and the operation of courts/tribunals, operation of clinics, and knowledge of the social and economic circumstances regarding special needs of low-income persons.46 Further, the statute specifically states that the majority of the appointed members of the board must not be lawyers.47 In addition to the board, a president is appointed who will be the chief executive officer of the corporation and responsible for the management and operation of the corporation under the board’s supervision.48 The current serving president and chief executive officer of the LAO has consistently played a role in the LAO from its inception in 1998 and has an extensive background in financial and strategic planning.49

The board of the LAO is also empowered to set up advisory committees to assist them in subjects such as criminal law, civil law, and family law.50 Similarly, the board may also set up a clinic committee to recommend policies with respect to the functioning and funding of clinics.51

It is noteworthy that the LAO’s model acknowledges the fact that management of a legal aid programme primarily requires a high degree of socio-economic knowledge backed by strong managerial skills. Therefore, while representation from the legal fraternity is undoubtedly crucial, an essential factor to see a legal aid programme fulfil its mandate is effective management by those skilled and experienced personnel.


The legal aid system in Scotland is managed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), a public body established under the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1986. The SLAB must consist of 11–15 members, all of whom are to be appointed by the Secretary of State; the Secretary of State is also entrusted with the power to appoint a chairman to the SLAB from among its members.52 While the entire composition of SLAB has not been specified, the statute requires that it consist of the following categories of persons at the minimum: (a) two members to be appointed from the Faculty of Advocates; (b) two members to be appointed from the Law Society; and (c) one person possessing experience regarding the procedure and practice of courts.53 The SLAB has been page.png 62 entrusted with the broad functions of providing legal aid, advice and assistance, as well as administering the legal aid fund.54

The members and chairman of SLAB are assisted by an executive team (headed by the chief executive), which is responsible for the administration and operations of the SLAB.55 The chief executive is assisted by a principal legal advisor and three directors heading separate wings: (a) operations, (b) strategic development, and (c) corporate services and accounts.56 With respect to the qualifications of the executive team, the current chief executive of the SLAB is a lawyer with vast experience of working with the SLAB, the director of corporate services and accounts is an accountant, while the principal legal advisor, director of strategic development, and director of operations are solicitors.57

Thus, SLAB, which is responsible for managing funds and ensuring the provision of legal aid, comprises persons with legal knowledge as well as persons with administrative experience, while most leaders of the executive team are solicitors with prior experience of working with SLAB. A key takeaway from the Scottish system is this split in decision-making and execution, which is also crucial for the Indian system, to ensure that those entrusted with monitoring and decision-making are not also saddled with all the responsibility and accountability for execution, more so because the judicial officers in charge of dispensing legal aid in India will be carrying out their legal aid functions in addition to their judicial responsibilities.

South Africa

Legal Aid South Africa (LASA) is a statutory entity58 governed by a board of directors who have wide-ranging functions to carry out the objects of the Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014. The board of directors consists of 14 members, including one serving judge, a chief executive officer, director general of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, three employees responsible for the management of LASA, and eight other members.59 The statute requires that the composition of board of directors accounts for racial, gender, and provincial representation, as well as experience in areas such as business management, information technology, provision of legal services, knowledge of public interest law, community-based knowledge pertinent to legal aid, etc.60 The judge appointed on LASA’s board must act as its chairperson and the cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice can designate a director as the deputy chairperson of the board.61

While the board has broad functions including employing legal practitioners and setting the criteria for legal aid, the actual execution and delivery of legal aid services is carried out by various executive officers headed by the chief executive officer.62 The chief executive officer must be a person who is considered fit and proper with the requisite knowledge and experience.63 Under the leadership of the chief executive officer, the organisational structure64 of the LASA consists of four tiers — the head office, regional offices, justice centres, and satellite offices that are responsible for the actual delivery of legal aid.

The key takeaway from the legal aid model of South Africa is that while the system includes representation from various entities — lawyers, judges, or management experts — it does not restrict the qualifications of its executive officers by requiring them to belong to any specific sphere but emphasises that such persons must possess the knowledge and experience to administer legal aid.

page.png 63 CONCLUSION

The judiciary is the largest formal dispute resolution forum in India with crores of cases pending across various levels of the judiciary. While the judiciary is striving to hold itself up despite the burden on its shoulders — one which neither the legislature nor executive can help with — placing additional responsibilities on it can be unhelpful. Those who are a part of the judiciary are there by virtue of their knowledge of the law and skills to critically analyse and adjudicate disputes. While administrative skills may be inherent in some members of the judiciary, it is not a skill set that is imperative for judicial officers and is therefore not a skill that most judges would necessarily possess.

Legal aid, while imperative in ensuring access to justice, is nonetheless an area that lies closer to the executive than the judiciary. That is not to say that the judiciary is not required in the sphere of legal aid dispensation, the judiciary is undoubtedly crucial, but at the policy level and as a monitoring agency, to ensure that an effective legal aid mechanism is put in place to ensure access to justice. The actual administration of legal aid however, and the running of day-to-day operations and the implementation of legal aid programmes, is of an administrative and managerial nature, a role on which the judiciary is not required to spend its time. While legal aid is a means to provide access to justice, in reality, justice itself is not being served due to an overburdened judiciary, and therefore, migrating non-judicial functions from the judiciary to non-judicial bodies is the need of the hour.

Although historically one of the recommendations was that retired judicial officers should hold the posts under the LSA Act to ensure that the judiciary is not overburdened, having the time to carry out the functions is only one side of the coin, we must also remember that those in charge of administering legal aid also have the required skills to effectively manage and implement legal aid programmes. As per the data collected through RTIs, the closing balance of the National Legal Aid Fund steadily increased from Rs 1.15 crores at the end of March 2012 to Rs 51.9 crores at the end of March 2015, and then Rs 54.02 crores at the end of December 2016, and the closing balances of accounts of eight SLSAs also revealed that there was a steady rise in their closing balances, running into crores over the years. This shows that there is an underutilisation of total funds available for the provision of legal aid.

It is therefore hoped that creating a model where the judiciary is part of the higher level decision-making and monitoring of legal aid, and a separate dedicated unit with knowledge of the socio-economic realities of India and strong managerial credentials, is allowed to carry out the operative functions of delivering legal aid, ‘access to justice’ in its full meaning and spirit will be better achieved.

Annexure A

State and Union Territory



Andaman and Nicobar



Andhra Pradesh



Arunachal Pradesh















Dadra and Nagar Haveli



Daman and Diu















Himachal Pradesh



Jammu and Kashmir















Madhya Pradesh

































Tamil Nadu









Uttar Pradesh






West Bengal



Notes: * Information for Assam could not be collected.

** Information available from the website of the SLSA.

*** Information collected through telephonic conversations with the SLSA.

page.png 64 Notes

1. Article 39-A, Constitution of India, 1950.

2. Statistics are based on the 2011 census population given in Reserve Bank of India. 2016. ‘Number and Percentage of Population Below Poverty Line’, Handbook of Statistics on the Indian Economy 2015–16, p. 253, available online at https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Publications/PDFs/0HANDB_F0651BA902A5244DFB75DA 46261B53726.PDF (accessed on 4 October 2017).

3. Available online at http://nalsa.gov.in/content/organizational-structure (accessed on 3 October 2017).

4. Under the LSA Act, legal services include legal aid as well as legal advice. See Section 2(c), LSA Act.

5. Section 4, LSA Act.

6. Section 7, LSA Act.

7. Section 10, LSA Act.

8. Regulation 5, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Regulations, 1996.

9. For instance, Regulation 8, High Court Legal Services Committee Regulations, 1998 (Delhi) and Regulation 5, Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority Regulations, 1998.

10. Section 11-B, LSA Act.

11. ‘Legal Services Institutions’ is hereafter used to refer to any one or more of the SCLSC, SLSA, HCLSC, DLSA, and TLSC.

12. Regulation 7, NALSA (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations, 2010.

13. Regulation 8, NALSA (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations, 2010.

14. Regulation 10, NALSA (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations, 2010.

15. Data collected is as of March 2017. In some cases where information was not received under the RTI applications and information was unavailable on the websites of the respective SLSAs, information was collected through telephone calls to the SLSAs.

16. Please note that the number of HCLSCs includes those established in different benches of the same High Court. Further, this number of DLSAs and TLSCs excludes those in Assam, as information could not be collected for that state.

17. Section 6, LSA Act.

18. Section 8-A, LSA Act.

19. Section 9, LSA Act.

20. Section 11-A, LSA Act.

21. This calculation considers that the Hon’ble Patron-in-Chief and Executive Chairman are common between page.png 65 the states of Maharashtra, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu, as well as between the states of Kerala and Lakshadweep. Further, as the secretary to the HCLSCs can be a non-judicial officer, this number has been left out of final calculations.

22. Ms Uma M.G. is the current full time Member-Secretary, Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA).

23. In 2016–2017, the KSLSA provided legal aid to 5,029 persons and legal advice to 38,126 persons. Statistics of the KSLSA, available online at http://www.kslsa.kar.nic.in/docs/Statistics.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).

24. Law Commission of India. 1958. Report No. 14: Reform of Judicial Administration. New Delhi: Government of India, p. 593. Available online at http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/Report14Vol2.pdf (accessed on 4 October 2017).

25. Law Commission, Reform of Judicial Administration, p. 601.

26. Law Commission, Reform of Judicial Administration, p. 612.

27. Shashank Kumar Dey and Nupur Kumari. 2016. ‘Role of Legal Aid in Contemporary India’, International Journal of Law, 2(6): 1–4, p. 2. Available online at www.lawjournals.org/archives/2016/vol2/issue6/2-5-43 (accessed on 3 October 2017).

28. V.R. Krishna Iyer. 1973. ‘Processual Justice to the People’, Report of the Expert Committee on Legal Aid, p. 209, available online at http://reports.mca.gov.in/Reports/15-Iyer%20committee%20report%20of%20the%20expert%20committee%20in%20legal%20aid,%201973.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).

29. Iyer, ‘Processual Justice’, p. 22.

30. Iyer, ‘Processual Justice’, p. 216.

31. Dey and Kumari, ‘Role of Legal Aid’, p. 25.

32. Statement of Objects and Reasons, LSA Act.

33. Supreme Court Bar Assn. v. Union of India, (2007) 4 SCC 353 : AIR 2007 SC 1670.

34. Supreme Court. ‘Vacancies in the Courts’ ‘Institution, Disposal and Pendency of Cases in the Supreme Court’, ‘Institution, Disposal and Pendency of Cases in the High Courts’, ‘Institution, Disposal and Pendency of Cases in the District & Subordinate Courts’, Court News, 11(3): 6–9. Available online at http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/courtnews/2016_issue_3.pdf (accessed on 4 October 2017). The number of subordinate judicial officers required as per the structure of authorities under the LSA Act is as per the information collected as on March 2017 under Regulation 10, NALSA (Free and Competent Legal Services) Regulations, 2010. Further, the number of subordinate judicial officers required under the LSA Act in Assam has not been depicted, as no information could be collected about the same.

35. As per information collected, Bihar has 37 DLSAs and 29 TLSCs, while Gujarat has 30 DLSAs and 225 TLSCs.

36. According to the 2011 Census, the population of Bihar was around 10 crores while the population of Gujarat was around six crores. Further, Bihar has 534 CD b locks while Gujarat has 249 taluks. See CensusInfo India Dashboard, available online at http://www.dataforall.org/dashboard/censusinfoindia_pca/ (accessed on 4 October 2017); Bihar State Profile available online at http://gov.bih.nic.in/Profile/ (accessed on 3 October 2017); List of District-Wise No. of Talukas of Gujarat, available online at http://gstfc.gujarat.gov.in/downloads/guj_state_no_talukas_01042015.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).

37. This calculation is based on information regarding DLSAs and TLSCs collected as on March 2017 and the subordinate judicial working strength as on 30 September 2016 (see Dey and Kumari, ‘Role of Legal Aid ’). While the average (mean) percentage of the number of subordinate judicial officers in a state required to perform functions under the LSA Act is around 38 per cent, it must be noted that the standard deviation of the same is around 30, therefore indicating that the spread of judicial officers required by the LSA Act varies widely across the various states.

38. Set up under the Legal Aid Ordinance, Cap. 91 (1967).

39. Section 3, Legal Aid Ordinance, Cap. 91 (1967) read with Schedule 2 of the Legal Officers Ordinance, Cap. 87 (1950).

40. Section 3 read with the definition of ‘Legal Aid Officer’ as provided under Section 2 of the Legal Aid Ordinance, Cap. 91 (1967).

41. The Legal Aid Services Council has been constituted under the Legal Aid Services Council Ordinance, Cap. 489 (1996).

42. Section 16, read with Schedule 3-A of the Legal Aid Commission Act, 1979.

43. The organisation structure of the Legal Aid Commission, available online at http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/7782/organisational-structure.pdf and http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/about-us/who-we-are/our-organisation (accessed on 3 October 2017).

44. Section 14, Legal Aid Commission Act, 1979.

45. Sections 3 and 5, Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.

46. Section 5(4), Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.

47. Section 5(6), Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.

48. Section 64 of the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998 read with By-Law No. 1, General By-Law of the Corporation, available online at http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/about/bylaw-1-general.asp (accessed on 3 October 2017).

49. page.png 66  Mr David Field, LAO President and CEO. See http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/about/board_of_directors.asp (accessed on 3 October 2017).

50. Section 7, Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.

51. Section 8, Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.

52. Section 1, Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1986.

53. Section 1, Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1986.

54. Section 1, Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1986.

55. Business plan (2016–2017) of SLAB, available online at http://www.slab.org.uk/permalink/10c540ce-690e-11e6-91a9-0015c5f5117d.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).

56. Management Structure of SLAB (September 2017), available online at http://www.slab.org.uk/export/sites/default/common/documents/about_us/board_members_senior_staff/Management_Structure.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).

57. Board and senior staff of SLAB, available online at http://www.slab.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/board/ (accessed on 3 October 2017).

58. LASA is set up under the provisions of the Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014. Initially, a system of judicare, where legal aid was provided by private legal practitioners under a system of legal aid tariffs was in place. Now legal aid is now primarily provided by LASA and to account for certain exceptional circumstances, a mixed system of the LASA and judicare continues to exist. See The Legal Aid Guide, 2014, p. 106, available online at http://www.legal-aid.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Legal-Aid-Guide-2014.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).

59. Section 6, Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014.

60. Section 7, Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014.

61. Section 8, Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014.

62. Legal Aid Guide, p. 22.

63. Sections 15 and 16, Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014.

64. Legal Aid South Africa. 2015. ‘Access to Information Manual’, 28 February, p. 8, available online at http://www.legal-aid.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Access-to-Information-Manual-for-Board-Consideration- Approved-Version-7_-28-February-2015.pdf (accessed on 3 October 2017).