can you approach the SCLSC?
You can approach the SCLSC in two situations:
Ü You need to file or
defend a case in the Supreme Court. This would include:
Appeals/Special Leave Petitions,
Civil or Criminal, against an order of the High Court.
· Petition for violation
or enforcement of your fundamental right. This includes:
Corpus petitions- where a close friend or relative is missing or
illegally taken away and whose whereabouts you do not know
challenging the legality of government action or inaction
challenging the legality of a legislation or order of government
that violates your fundamental right.
· Petition for transferring
a case, civil or criminal, pending in one State to another State
Ü You need legal advice regarding your problem.
there cases for which no legal aid or avice will be given?
aid will not be given for the following cases:
· Proceedings wholly or partly
in respect of –
person charged with contempt of court; and
relating to any election
incidental to any of the above proceedings
in respect of offences where the fine imposed is not more than Rs.
in respect of economic offences and offences against social laws,
such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Immoral
Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 unless in such cases the aid is sought
by the victim.
[However, even in the above cases, the Chairman of the SCLSC
can, in an appropriate case, direct that legal aid be granted]
where a person seeking legal aid or advice
Ø is concerned with
the proceedings only in a representative or official capacity; or
Ø if a formal party
to the proceedings, not materially concerned in the outcome of the
proceedings and his interests are not likely to be prejudiced on
account of the absence of proper representation.
there any eligibility criteria?
Yes, there is. These are spelt out under Ss.
12 and 13 of the Act. To be eligible for free legal aid for
filing or defending a case in the Supreme Court, you have to satisfy
First, you should belong to any
of the following categories of persons:
member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe
victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred
to in Article 23 of the Constitution
woman or a child
mentally ill or otherwise disabled person
person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being victim
of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought,
earthquake or industrial disaster
custody, including custody in a protective home [Nari Niketan] or
a juvenile home or a mental asylum
receipt of annual income less than Rs. 50,000. For this you are
required to give an affidavit [This last requirement is called the
However, irrespective of
the means test, legal aid may be granted
cases of great public importance; or
a special case, reasons for which are to be recorded in writing,
considered otherwise deserving of legal aid or advice.
Second, the SCLSC
must be satisfied that you have a reasonably good chance of succeeding
in your case [prima facie case]
For seeking legal advice,
the Act does not prescribe any eligibility criteria.
should you do to obtain legal aid or advice?
For legal aid,
if you satisfy the first eligibility criteria, you need to take
the following steps:
an application for legal aid to the SCLSC. The forms for these can
be obtained in person or through post or e-mail from the SCLSC at
the address indicated below or from any of the nearest Taluk/District/State/High
Court Legal Services Committees.
have to submit the completed application form to the SCLSC along
with full documentation. For instance, if you seek to file an appeal
against the order of a High Court, you are required to submit a
copy [preferably certified] of the order of the High Court, copies
of orders, if any, of the courts below the High Court, copies of
all the papers filed in your case before the lower court and High
Court, comments of the lawyer on the judgment. If these are in a
language other than English, please try and send translated copies.
that there is no fee or charge for obtaining the application form.
For obtaining legal advice,
you can call at the office of the SCLSC on any working day between
10.30 a.m. and 5 p.m.. Or you could send in a query by post, for
which you should receive a reply within fifteen days. If
the query is sent by e-mail, you could expect a reply sooner. Again,
there are no charges for legal advice.
does the SCLSC do Next?
The SCLSC is headed by a
Judge of the Supreme Court of India and has distinguished members
nominated by the Chief Justice of India.
The SCLSC has a panel of competent Advocates-on-Record
with certain minimum number of years of experience who handle the
work of screening papers and handling the cases in the Supreme Court.
In addition, the SCLSC has a full-time Legal Consultant-cum-Executive
Lawyer who handles queries - both in person as well as through post.
The Legal Consultant also screens papers. Although the applicant
cannot get a lawyer of his or her choice, the SCLSC ensures that
only competent lawyers are entrusted with these cases.
Your papers will be screened in order to determine
that the eligibility criteria are satisfied. Normally, within fifteen
days of the receipt of your papers, you will be informed of the
decision of the SCLSC, in writing, either granting or refusing legal
If you are aggrieved by an order of refusal,
you could appeal to the Chairman of the SCLSC.
you have been granted legal aid
· you will be sent an affidavit
and vakalatnama by the SCLSC which will have to be signed by you
and sent back to the SCLSC by post. The affidavit has to be attested
by a notary or commissioner of oaths. You may need to pay not
more than five rupees for this.
· However, if you are in jail,
the affidavit and the vakalatnama have to be countersigned by the
jail superintendent. In addition he has to give a certificate of
detention in the prescribed format, which will also be sent to you
by the SCLSC. This has to be returned at the earliest to the SCLSC
with the affidavit and vakalatnama.
· Meanwhile, your case will be
assigned to an advocate-on-record [AOR] on the panel of the SCLSC.
The AOR will draft the petition and file it in the Supreme Court
after the signed vakalatnama and the signed and attested affidavit
[and the certificate if you are in jail] are received by the SCLSC.
· The AOR who is assigned the
case will argue it on your behalf in the Supreme Court. In exceptional
cases, if you make a request in this behalf and if the SCLSC feels
it is justified, a senior advocate can be requested to appear on
your behalf. No fees are required to be paid by you for this purpose.
· You will be informed by the
SCLSC of the name of the AOR and you will receive intimation through
post on the progress of your case from time to time.
· You will also be sent copies
of all the documents filed on your behalf and by the opposite parties
and you will be intimated from time to time if there is any other
information you are required to provide.
· You will be informed of the
outcome of your case and given copies of the relevant orders passed
by the court.
you have to incur expenses at any stage?
the cost of getting the affidavit attested [and even this is not
applicable if you are in jail] and postage for sending papers to
the SCLSC, you are not required to pay anything for any of the above
services. They are absolutely free. The lawyers on the panel
of the SCLSC are paid an honorarium of Rs. 2000 per
case by the SCLSC itself.
If you have any queries,
you may contact :
Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
109, Lawyers' Chambers,
Supreme Court Compound,
New Delhi-110 001
Ph. Nos. 23388313, 23073970, 23381257
e-mail : email@example.com