Legal aid refers to the provision of assistance in the society to the people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. It is regarded as the central force in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.
· For a wide range of litigants with special needs, for instance- people in custody, children, women, complainants under the SC/ST Act, workmen, legal aid is automatically available for filing or defending a case irrespective of the economic status of the person.
· Under the legal aid schemes, an extensive network of legal aid committees exists at the Taluk, District and State levels. In addition, every High Court and the Supreme Court has its own legal services committees.
· Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society.
· The legal aid movement envisages a system where economically and socially disadvantaged groups are assured of easy access to courts and other government agencies for grievance redressal.
· The new rationale for legal aid emerged where the law was slowly begun to be regarded as the instrument through which socio-economic inequalities could be lessened and through affirmative action, some amount of ‘advantage’ was being assured to disadvantaged groups in fields of employment and education.