SC advocates approach poor with legal help
Gone are the days when a poor person used to go to a lawyer with a request to take up his/her case to fight a legal battle in courts to get them justice.
Thanks to the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee (SCLSC), now its panel advocates are approaching poor, old and infirm litigants with legal aid to secure justice for them at the earliest.
SCLSC panel advocates are now approaching poor litigants – who had approached the committee years ago – with legal help to sucure them justice at the earliest.
The SCLSC – which had a backlog of 1,188 old cases – has witnessed a turnaround in the last few months. It has managed to clear the backlog of allocation of cases of poor litigants to advocates on its panel to a great extent by implementing Operation Clean-up and Project ‘SAHYOG’.
“As on September 22, 2018, there are only about 38 matters (prior to 2018) which are yet to be reconstructed and filed,” a white paper on the functioning of SCLSC revealed.
Now the SCLSC “has firmly resolved to ensure that this office should be professionally managed and become a zero-pendency organisation”.
According to a white paper on the functioning of SCLSC, “As a cumulative effect of Operation Clean-up and Project ‘SAHYOG’ (details of Project ‘SAHYOG’ are discussed below) the total pendency of the SCLSC has been reduced from 3,800 cases (as in January, 2018) to 2,144 (as on 22.09.2018). Operation Clean-up has not only led to reduction of pendency and clearing of dead wood but had also resulted in availability of additional space.”
“In order to clear the dead wood of files an Operation Clean-up was carried out by the SCLSC in January, 2018.
Under Operation Clean-up all the Dealing Assistants were directed to physically verify all the files and update their status. After physical verification of the files by the Dealing Assistants, the Consultants were required to re-verify all the files and update their current status,” the White Paper stated.
To curb inordinate delay in assigning cases to panel advocates, the SCLSC decided in March that in criminal matters wherein the convicts had been sentenced with imprisonment for a period of 10 years or above shall be directly assigned to them for filing without referring them to the Screening Committee for opinion.
Presently, there are nine active Screening Committees of senior advocates. There are about only 36 cases pending with the Screening Committees for opinion as on September 13, 2018.
In the past few years, the work of the SCLSC has increased manifold. Besides the routine administrative work, the SCLSC receives on an average about 150-175 fresh legal aid applications every month from various State Legal Services Authorities, Committees, Jails, Applicants across the country.
Aimed at providing free legal aid and advice to poor litigants to enable them have access to justice, the SCLSC was constituted under Section 3A of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 and came into existence with effect from January 1, 1996. Headed by a Supreme Court Judge (currently Justice Madan B Lojur), the SCLSC has nine other distinguished members in its Executive Body.
The SCLSC provides free legal services to a litigant whose annual income does not exceed Rs 1.25 lakh a year. It also provides free legal services to persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, women, children, disabled persons, victims of trafficking in human beings, mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocities, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster etc. persons in custody and industrial workmen, irrespective of their financial status.
The SCLSC has an active panel of Senior Advocates and Advocates-on-Record for rendering legal aid to the eligible beneficiaries free of charge. Presently, the SCLSC has 29 Senior Advocates and 53 Advocates-on-Record on its active panel for the said purpose.
Source: The Tribune, Oct 07, 2018