Rs 1.05 per capita spend by Centre on legal aid in 2019-20: Report

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New Delhi, Jan 28 (PTI) In the last 25 years, only 1.5 crore people have received legal aid with the Centre spending Rs 1.05 per capita in 2019-20, according to a report by Tata Trusts.

Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of beneficiaries with over 12 lakh persons receiving legal aid and advice in 2019, the second edition of the India Justice Report said.

'However, legal services institutions remain affected by a lack of infrastructure, uneven human resource distribution, poor utilization of central funds and an inability to effectively harness Lok Adalats to ease the burden on the judiciary,' said the report adding that the centre spend Rs 1.05 per capita in 2019-20.

It said that since 2019, some of the eighteen states that have a population of over 10 million have significantly improved their capacity to deliver legal aid and have gone up in ranking.

'Only Maharashtra (first from fifth), Punjab (remaining third) and Haryana (fifth from second) have retained their positions among the top five states. Bihar registered the largest jump of 14 spots—from sixteenth to second position. Jharkhand similarly improved from the fourteenth to the fourth spot.

'Common contributions include improving infrastructure, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) fund utilization and the share of women panel lawyers. The most pronounced falls were seen in Karnataka (seventh to sixteenth), Chhattisgarh (eighth to fifteenth) and Kerala (first to seventh). . Uttar Pradesh remains last. Amongst the smaller states, Goa remained at the top and Arunachal Pradesh at the bottom,' the report said.

Referring to the figures, the India Justice Report said as of March 2020, there are 669 district legal services authorities (DLSA).

It said since 1995, only 1.5 crore people have received legal aid.

The number of sanctioned posts of full-time secretaries to District Legal Services Authority (DLSAs) stood at 629—a deficit of 40.

The number of full-time secretaries in place was 573—a deficit of 96. Seven states/UTs are yet to sanction any full-time secretary posts in their districts. The possible reason for this may be a shortage of judicial officers in smaller jurisdictions.

'Some others, like Arunachal Pradesh (5/25) and Uttar Pradesh (71/75), sanctioned fewer DLSAs than the number of districts whereas Assam (33/27) and Telangana (11/10) have more DLSAs than there are districts,' it said.

The report stated that as of March 2020, 145 DLSA secretaries or 28 per cent were women; roughly one out of every four.

Tripura (66 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (58 per cent) had the highest share of women amongst DLSA secretaries, it said adding that the states in the Northeast, which do not have full-time secretaries, have women judicial officers.

Mizoram with no full-time secretaries had five female judicial officers in that post, the report said.

The Tata Trusts said nationally the share of women amongst panel lawyers has remained constant at 18 per cent.

Women's share among the paralegal volunteers has stagnated at about 35 per cent and at nearly 73 per cent, Goa had the highest share amongst all the states while West Bengal had the lowest with just one woman out of every five paralegals.

The ranking is based on quantitative measurements of budgets, human resources, infrastructure, workload, diversity across police, judiciary, prisons and legal aid in 18 large and medium-sized states with a population of over 1 crore and seven small states. PTI PKS RKS RKS