Over 1cr got free legal service in last 5 years | Bangalore News

Bengaluru: Over the past five years, more than one million people have benefited from pro bono legal services offered by the legal services authorities, which is in stark contrast to the performance of previous decades.
According to data from the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA), between 2017-18 and 2021-22 (up to January), more than 1.03 million people received free legal aid in India, almost 60% of them in 2021-22.
In fact, the beneficiaries in 2021-2022 are more than the previous four years (2017-18 to 2020-21), which together reported that 41.7 lakh people benefited from such service. This is about 20.5 lakh less than last year. In 2021-2022, the number of people who benefited in Karnataka only saw a marginal peak, as did some other states. Karnataka reported 25,977 beneficiaries during the year, while the total number of beneficiaries over the past five years stands at over 3.2 lakh.
The five states that saw the maximum increase in 2021-22 were Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Assam. Together, these states accounted for 94% (58.6 lakh) of the 62.2 lakh recipients in 2021-2022, while they accounted for 70.4% or 73.1 lakh of the 1.03 crore recipients in the past five years. .
Past poor performance
However, the past performance of legal service authorities has come under heavy criticism, with even Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice, expressing concern over their poor performance.
Separate NLSA data shows why. Since the establishment of free legal aid services under the provisions of the Legal Services Authority Act 1987 and up to 2016-2017, only around 1.5 million people have benefited from these services.
Of the 1.5 crore recipients over two decades, 30%, or more than 46 lakh, were from Uttar Pradesh, with Tamil Nadu in second place. Now, in just five years thereafter, 1 crore more people have benefited from these services. Activists and lawyers say there needs to be more detailed study on the issue, while improving the quality of these services.
Lawyer Narasimhappa TV of Alternative Law Forum, said: “…The increase in the number of beneficiaries is positive, but there needs to be more awareness and the process needs to be further streamlined. There is still a lot of work to be done on the pitch and the performance of recent years can only be seen as a step in the right direction after many years of inaction.
Clarity, Work to be planned
Deepika Kinhal, Senior Resident Scholar and Head of Judicial Reforms at the Vidhi Center for Legal Policy, says: “Any increase in the use of legal aid is to be welcomed, especially given the large number of ongoing trials languishing in due to lack of legal representation. However, these data, while showing an exponential increase in the use of legal services, are difficult to accept. »
She added that there is no clarity on who constitutes a ‘beneficiary’ – is it someone who has been on legal aid and managed to get a favorable order or does that also include people who have received legal advice or information?
“Furthermore, there seems to be a lag between states and over the years in how beneficiaries are identified. For example, recipients in 2021-22 increased by 300% compared to the previous best performing year (2018-19). This significant jump is largely attributable to data from five states – Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – all of which saw an inexplicable exponential increase from the average of the previous four years,” she explained.

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