At the end of 2019, Dalits made up 21.7% of all convicts in jails across the country. The share of Scheduled Castes among undertrials languishing in jails stood at 21%. In the case of tribals, the gap was equally big. While the Scheduled Tribes made up 10.5% of all undertrials in jails, the Census put their numbers at 8.6% of the population. With a population share of 14.2%, Muslims formed 18.7% of all undertrials. 4.83 lakh Indian nationals were lodged across the country's jails by end of 2020, of which over 76 per cent were undertrials while 23 per cent were convicts (Prison Statistics of India, 2020).
The Legal Services Act was enacted in 1987 and National Legal Services Authority was set up in 1995 followed by State bodies (SALSAs) and District bodies (DLSAs). Nearly 33 years after a law was enacted to ensure free legal services to the poor, its accessibility remains abysmal. Legal aid (Article 39A of the Constitution) has miserably failed to endeavour its objective i.e., to provide assistance to the people who are not in financial sound condition, and are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. The Article guarantees to provide equal access to the Justice system to such persons, by providing legal and professional assistance free of cost.
LAW Foundation thus provides socio-legal aid services to marginalised under-trial prisoners in cases of bail bond (Surety & Personal Recognisance), appeal matters, writs and PIL. We also influence public policies or public attitudes to empower the vulnerable communities through advocacy and resource mobilisation.