As per section 12 of the Act of 1987 read with Rule 19 of the HALSA Rules of 1996, the following categories of persons are entitled to free legal services:
- Any citizen of India belonging to general category whose annual income from all sources does not exceed Rs. 3,00,000/- (if the matter is at the Sub-Divisional level, District level or in High Court) and does not exceed Rs. 3,00,000/- (if the matter is in the Supreme Court of India).
- Members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Backward Classes*.
- Victims of trafficking in human beings, or ‘begar’ (forced labour) as is referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution.
- To a child, i.e. person who has not attained the age of 18 years or if he is under the guardianship under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 the age of 21 years
- To a person with disability as defined in clause (i) of Section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (1) of 1996)
- To a person, under circumstances of undeserved want such as being victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster
- To an industrial workman
- To a person in custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, or in a “children’s home, observation home, shelter home and special home within the meaning of clauses (e), (o), (u) and (v) respectively of section 2 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
- To a person in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of clause (q) of Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987
- In a test case, the decision of which is likely to effect cases of numerous other persons belonging to the poor and weaker sections of the society
- To a person, in a special case, which for reasons to be recorded in writing is considered otherwise deserving of legal service where the means test is not satisfied
- To a person in the case where the High Court or the Supreme Court provides legal service under any order in that case legal service would be deemed to have been provided by the Authority/Committee in relaxation of all the conditions laid down in this rule
- To a person in case of public interest litigation
- To an ex-serviceman, and the families of such persons who have died in action
- To riot victims, and the families of such persons as well as terrorist victims and families of such persons
- To freedom fighters
- Transgender people
- Senior Citizen that is person who is citizen of India and has attained the age of 60 years or above
BESIDES THE ABOVE CATEGORIES, free legal services can also be provided in the under mentioned situations:-
- In a test case, the decision of which is likely to effect cases numerous other persons belonging to the poor and weaker sections of the society
- To a person in a special case, who, for reasons to be recorded in writing, is considered otherwise deserving of legal service where the means test is not satisfied
- Persons in favour of whom our High Court or the Supreme Court directs grant of legal service
- To a person in case of genuine public interest litigation
Withholding Of Legal Service
By virtue of section 13(1) of the Act of 1987 all or any of the various categories of persons specified in section 12 of the Act of 1987 and read with the Rule 19 of HALSA Rules of 1996 are entitled to free legal service provided that the concerned Authority is satisfied that such persons has prima facie case to prosecute or to defend. Furthermore, as per Rule 23(4) of HALSA Rules of 1996, no legal service can be granted, or continued after the legal service has been granted, if the Authority/Committee is satisfied that:
- The applicant has knowingly made false statement or furnished false information as regards his means or place or residence
- In proceedings (other than the one relating to criminal prosecution ) where there is no prima facie case to institute, or as the case may be, to defend the proceedings
- The application is frivolous and fictitious
- The applicant is not entitled to the same under Rule 19 of the HALSA Rules of 1996 or any other provision of the rule
- Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it is otherwise not reasonable to grant it.