- The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body formed in 1992 under the National Commission Act 1990. It is the apex national level organisation of India with the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women.
- It provides the government with advice to make policies and laws that are more prone to protect and safeguard the rights of women. The commission also has the powers that are vested upon with a civil court.
- The objectives of NCW are as follows:
- To suggest the government regarding policies regarding women,
- A platform to redress the grievances,
- To make recommendations relating to legislation measures,
- To review legal and constitutional safeguards for women.
- Powers of NCW:
- Provide consultation on all major policy matters that affect women,
- Issuing summons for the examination of documents and the witnesses,
- It has the power to make any public record,
- Receiving evidence on affidavits,
- Discovery and production of documents,
- Summoning and enforcement.
- The commission consists of a chairperson, a member secretary and five other members.
- The chairperson of the NCW is nominated by the Central Government. The Central Government also nominates the member secretary. The member secretary should be an expert in the field of management.
- The five members nominated by the Central Government should be individuals with ability, standing and integrity. They should have experience in law, legislation, management, women voluntary organisation, economic social development and so on.
- The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is a statutory body constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
- Lok Adalat (people’s courts) is a body established by the government to settle disputes through conciliation and compromise.
- NALSA came into force in 1995. It was enacted by the Parliament to give effect to Article 39 A of the Constitution of India which guarantees free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that they are not denied access to justice by reason of economic or other disability.
- The NALSA is headed by the Chief Justice of India as its Patron-in-Chief, the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court is the Executive Chairman.
- In every State, the State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State.
- The State Legal Services Authority is headed by the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.
- In every District, the District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
What are Legal Services?
- Legal Services includes providing Free Legal Aid to those weaker sections of the society who fall within the purview of Section 12 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.
- It also entails creating legal awareness by spreading legal literacy through legal awareness camps, print media, digital media and organizing Lok Adalats for the amicable settlement of disputes which are either pending or which are yet to be filed, by way of compromise.
- Legal services also encompasses facilitating the beneficiaries to get their entitlements under various government schemes, policies and legislations
Who is Entitled to Free Legal Services?
- The sections of the society as enlisted under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act are entitled for free legal services, they are :
- A member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe;
- A victim of trafficking in human beings or begar as referred to in Article 23 of the Constitution;
- A woman or a child;
- A mentally ill or otherwise disabled person;
- A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or
- An industrial workman; or
- a person in receipt of annual income less than the amount prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a Court other than the Supreme Court, and less than Rs 5 Lakh, if the case is before the Supreme Court.
- Senior citizens’ eligibility for free legal aid depends on the Rules framed by the respective State Governments in this regard.
Why in News?
- The National Commission for Women (NCW)and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has launched a pan-India Legal Awareness Program for Women, “Empowerment of Women through Legal Awareness” to impart practical knowledge about legal rights and remedies provided under various women related laws, thereby making them fit to face the challenges in real life situations.
- The programme aims to cover all the States and Union Territories across the country through regular sessions to make women aware of the various machineries of the justice delivery system available for redressal of their grievances.
- The project will sensitize women and girls about their rights as provided under the various laws including the Indian Penal Code. The project will also make them aware of the procedure of approaching and utilizing various channels available for the redressal of grievances, i.e., the Police, the Executive and the Judiciary.