Convergence in the Practice of Legal Aid to Improve Access to Justice

Date01 January 2019
AuthorSaurabh Sood
Published date01 January 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Convergence in the Practice
of Legal Aid to Improve
Access to Justice
Saurabh Sood1
This essay locates legal aid as an opportunity to realize the need to improve access to justice in India
by converging state and non-state practices of legal aid. Its relevance is argued through the socialism-
inspired welfare mandate of the Indian state and well-established constitutional prescription to promote
equality of opportunity. In doing so, it asks whether increase in access to justice for the marginalized
sections in the society can be achieved through the convergence of the legal service authorities, law
schools and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wherein convergence has been defined as the
joint effort of the above-mentioned actors to conduct an event/programme or any activity that falls
under the purview of legal aid. To generate evidence on the same, I employ the text analysis technique
on data obtained from the quarterly publication of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) called
Nyayadeep. Results show that such convergence is a possibility within the current policy framework.
The geographical spread of converging activities is highly concentrated, with a reported increase in
collaborative engagement in 2016 from 2015. Public legal education is found to be the most frequently
occurring theme on which convergence occurs. This exploratory work addresses the critical gap of
literature on the nature of interaction between policy actors in the domain of practice of legal aid and
highlights research needs that may inform further work on the topic.
Several reasons have been cited to make the case for legal aid in India. These can be divided into two sets
of views which suggest prevalence of unequal access to legal procedures. On one extreme lies the people
with no access to courts, people who are deprived of access to justice and are therefore in need of aid that
addresses the access issue. On the other extreme lies citizens who approach courts but lack adequate
means to see through their cases due to the issue of resource constraints. Further, there are also people
who lie somewhere in between this continuum. This differing need for aid is also sometimes referred to
as pre- and post-litigation needs.
1 Development Research and Policy Initiatives, S. M. Sehgal Foundation, Gurugram Haryana, India.
Asian Journal of Legal Education
6(1–2) 18–28, 2019
© 2019 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2322005818812612
Corresponding author:
Saurabh Sood, Development Research and Policy Initiatives, S. M. Sehgal Foundation, Sector 44, Institutional Area,
Gurugram 122003, Haryana, India.

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