Right to legal aid is one of the important principle of criminal jurisprudence in which it is held that accused must have a fair trial. If an accused is absconding, the trial does not take place until he is apprehended. Therefore, we can say that he has full rights to answer the charges and he must be provided with the occasion to answer them.
According to Section 303 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, It is provided that if any person is accused of an offence before a Criminal Court or against whom proceedings are instituted under this court, he may have the right to be defended by up leader of his choice.
In case of an insane person, trial remains suspended until he is cured of the disease.
If the accused is in police custody, he is also given reasonable opportunity of getting into communication with his counsel for the purpose of preparing his defence. In certain cases, states shall bear the expenses of the legal aid of the accused as per section 304(1) of criminal procedure code 1973.
In case of Khatri versus state of Bihar (1981), It was held by the court that the magistrate or sessions judge, before whom they accused appeared, is under an obligation to inform the accused that if he is unable to engage the services of a lawyer on account of poverty or indigents, he is entitled to obtain free legal services at the cost of the state.
In MH Hoskot versus State of Maharashtra (1978), it was held by the court that providing legal aid to a prisoner is a state’s duty and not the government’s charity.
Provision in Part IV of the constitution was brought in by the 42nd amendment Act of 1976 states about equal justice and free legal aid that the State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
Free legal aid is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all the citizens of the country. Article 21 of the Constitution of India states, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.
Certain bar associations have set up voluntary legal aid societies and associations to provide for free legal aid to the poor accused. There has been a growing public opinion for providing free, legally to poor accused persons. Judicial mandates have gone a long way in enforcing the constitutional guarantee of free, legally to the poor by issuing necessary direction to the state and to subordinate judiciary. However, we cannot say that the President legislative provisions in this regard is better, or satisfactory. But there is a need for the government to provide for some more purposeful program of Legal aid to the poor by bringing about some legislation on this matter.