To achieve the objectives of the Constitution of India, The erstwhile State of J&K vide Govt. Order No. 1223 dated 26.10.1987, constituted a board called J&K State Legal Aid and Advice Board for providing free legal services to the weaker sections of the community. In the Year 1997, The J&K State Legal Aid and Advice Board was repealed by Jammu and Kashmir State Legal Services Authority Act 1997, which provided for establishment of State Legal Services Authority, High Court Legal Services Committee, District Legal Services Authorities and Tehsil Legal Services Committees to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker section of the society and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organise Lok Adalats to ensure that the operation of the Legal System promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunities. In August 2019, the Parliament passed the J&K Re-organization Act 2019, which came into force on 30.10.2019, by which the State of J&K was bifurcated into two Union Territories called UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh. By virtue of the same legislation, J&K State Legal Services Authority Act 1997 was repealed and the Legal Services Authority Act 1987 (Central Act) came into force in the UT's of J&K and Ladakh. The UT of J&K has constituted the State Legal Services Authority vide notification dated 2nd of December 2019.
Patron-in-Chief, J&K State Legal Services Authority
In terms of S.6 of Legal Services Authority Act 1987, J&K State Legal Services Authority has been created, with Hon'ble The Chief Justice as its Patron-in-Chief. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, Judge High Court of J&K is presently Executive Chairman of the Legal Services Authority, whereas, Mr. Mohinder Kumar Sharma is Member Secretary of the Authority. Besides this, Presidents of Bar Associations Jammu/Srinagar, Advocate General, Secretaries to Home, Finance and Information Departments of Government of J&K are the ex-officio members of the State Authority. The State Legal Services Authority besides being the Supervisory Authority over the District / Tehsil Legal Services Authorities/ Committees is obliged to lay down policies for making legal service available, make allocation of funds to other Authorities/ Committees, organise legal aid camps, encourage settlement of disputes by mediation and conciliation, conduct/organise Lok Adalats and related activities.
The State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) has constituted the High Court Legal Service Committee (HCLSC) in exercise of its power under 8 A of the Act. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Kumar is the Chairman of the committee, whereas, Sh. Amit Kumar Gupta, Sub Judge is the Secretary of the Committee.The main function of the HCLSC is to provide legal services to the eligible persons, to conduct Lok Adalats for cases pending before Hon’ble High Court and to encourage the settlement of disputes by way of negotiation, arbitration and conciliation. HCLSC is also duty bound to execute all those schemes and to launch all those programmes as are framed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and State Legal Services Authority (SLSA).
Twenty District Legal Service Authorities (DLSA) have been constituted in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir by the Government under S.9 of the Act. Each District Authority consists of the District Judge concerned as its chairman.
There are 63 Taluk Legal Service Committees functioning in the state at present that have been created & constituted by State Authority in terms of S.11-A of the Act. Each Taluk Committee comprises of the Sub Judge/Munsiff of the concerned Taluk as its chairman.
The important task before the legal service functionaries is to make the legal service law meaningful for those belongings to weaker and poor sections of the society, for whom same has been brought on the Statute Book. This can be done by educating the said sections of the society about the various provisions of the LSA Act and the Rules and the Regulation framed there under. This underprivileged class of society has to be made to understand about the benefits of not only legal service law, but they also have to be made aware about all the social welfare legislations including the laws on Human Rights, the Fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution and the provisions of the Right to Information Act etc. The downtrodden and the backward class of the society is to be told as how the settlement of the disputes in the Lok Adalat saves their time, money and energy, and how it not only maintains but improves the relations of the rival parties. It has to be made Known to them that negotiated settlement ends the animity between the fighting parties for all times to come, there being no appeal, no revision whatsoever. Unlike in a litigation before a regular court where parties to the dispute end up with animosity, anger and bad blood between them, in a negotiated settlement, relations of the fighting parties get improved and all the terrifying memories of the litigation are for- gotten for all times to come. The parties part with the spirit of good will and mutual trust with promise to meet again. Illiterate class of the society who are weak, backward and downtrodden are not expected to know that constitution has guaranteed to them some valuable rights which are fundamental in nature. Such of the rights as pertain to right to livelihood and right to live with dignity and honor etc. are very-very important for this lower class of society as we may call it. It is, therefore, very important to promote awareness among the masses about all these rights. It becomes imperative therefore, as is ordained in the LSA Act and the Rules, to make the weaker sections of the society aware as to how shall they seek protection of their fundamental rights, and how are the Human Rights violation sought to be checked. To do this, we have to reach out to the door steps of the needy, to tell them all about this. Such class of the society needs awareness that in case they are not in a position to vindicate their such right, given their economic conditions, they shall be provided legal services and legal assistance, which will be entirely free. These people have to be enlightened as to how access to justice for all is possible and practicable. It is in this back ground that more emphasis is on convening of legal literacy and legal awareness programmes where the common people have to be informed that legal services is not a charity, but is a way to provide justice for all. Stress is on setting up of legal literacy and legal awareness camps in far-flung and remote areas of the State, to tell the common masses there that rich alone shall not have the right to enjoy the fruits of Justice but poor shall equally have the access to justice.