UPSC Mains Daily Answer Writing - 9 October (GS 2)


  1. “Constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy”. Comment.           (10)
  2. Who are entitled to receive free legal aid? Assess the role of the National Legal Services Authority(NALSA) in rendering free legal aid in India.      (10)

Model Solutions

Q1. “Constitutionally guaranteed judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy”. Comment.


  • Judicial independence is ensured through constitutional articles 124(2), 50 etc. An independent judiciary ensures the impartial application of the rule of law, the protection of fundamental rights, and a check against potential abuse of power by other branches of government.
    Main Body:
  • Judicial independence is a prerequisite of democracy:
    • Upholding the Rule of Law:
      • An independent judiciary ensures the rule of law by interpreting and applying the law without bias or external influence.
      • Article 50 directs the state to separate the judiciary from the executive and ensures that executive decisions don't influence judicial functions.
    • Protection of Fundamental Rights:
      • An independent judiciary serves as the guardian of citizens' rights against any potential infringement by other branches of government. (Art 32)
      • Judgment: In the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi vs. Raj Narain (1975), the Supreme Court emphasised its role in protecting fundamental rights.
    • Checks and Balances:
      • Judicial independence ensures that the judiciary can serve as a check on the other branches of government.
      • In the Unnikrishnan case, the Supreme Court directed the government to provide free and compulsory education to all children aged 6-14.
      • Constitutional Provision: Article 121 and Article 211 prohibit discussions in Parliament and State Legislatures about the conduct of judges, protecting them from potential legislative pressures.
    • Ensuring Public Trust:
      • For the public to trust the democratic process, they must believe in the judiciary's fairness and impartiality.
      • E.g.: Evolution of collegium system.
    • Promotion of Justice and Equity:
      • An independent judiciary ensures that judgments are rendered based on legal principles and evidence, fostering a sense of justice and equity in society.
      • Constitutional Provision: The protocols laid out in Article 124(2), Article 217, and Article 222 regarding the appointment and transfer of judges emphasise the importance of keeping the judiciary insulated from external influences.
        While the Indian Constitution and the judiciary have taken measures to ensure judicial independence, there remain areas of improvement. Ensuring that the judiciary remains truly independent and effective requires sustained efforts. Here are further steps that can be taken to fortify judicial independence in India:
  • Way Forward:
    • Transparent Appointment Process:
      • Establishing a more transparent system, possibly through a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), while ensuring it doesn't compromise independence, can be considered.
    • Accountability Mechanisms:
      • Setting up an independent internal mechanism to address complaints against the judiciary can strike a balance between independence and accountability.
    • Reducing Pendency of Cases:
      • Investing in infrastructure, hiring more judges, and incorporating technology can expedite case disposals, ensuring justice is delivered promptly.(Around five crore cases are pending)
    • Regular Training and Skill Development:
      • Periodic training sessions for judges on emerging areas of law, technology, and global best practices can ensure they remain updated and competent.
    • Strengthening Lower Courts:
      • While much focus is on the higher judiciary, the foundation lies in the lower courts. Strengthening them through better infrastructure, training, and resources ensures that the base remains robust.
    • Review of Contempt of Court Provisions:
      • A nuanced approach that balances respect for the judiciary with freedom of speech is needed.
    • Increasing Representation:
      • Ensuring diversity in the judiciary by better-representing women, minorities, and other marginalised sections can make it more inclusive and reflective of society.


  • While India has made commendable strides in ensuring judicial independence, there's always room for growth and betterment. A continuous introspective approach, combined with proactive measures, can further strengthen the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary in India.

Q2. Who are entitled to receive free legal aid? Assess the role of the National Legal Services Authority(NALSA) in rendering free legal aid in India.(10)


  • The Constitution of India, under Article 39A, emphasises that the state shall ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice based on equal opportunity and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen due to economic or other disabilities.
    Main Body:
  • The following categories of individuals are entitled to free legal aid:
    • Members of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.
    • Women and children.
    • Victims of human trafficking or begar (forced labour).
    • Persons with disabilities.
    • Individuals in custody, including under-trial prisoners, juveniles, or persons in a psychiatric hospital or nursing home.
    • Victims of mass disasters, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, floods, drought, and industrial disasters.
    • Persons with an annual income less than a specified limit (which may vary from state to state).
  • Role of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in Rendering Free Legal Aid:
    • Lok Adalats: Organizes forums for amicable dispute resolution, settling millions of cases.
    • Legal Aid Clinics: Sets clinics, especially in rural areas, to cater to legal needs.
    • Awareness Programs: Conducts legal literacy and community outreach initiatives.
    • Representation: Ensures entitled individuals receive competent legal representation in courts.
    • Special Initiatives: Addresses legal concerns of specific groups like disaster victims and unorganised sector workers.
      In short, NALSA acts as a bridge, ensuring marginalised sections access legal services and justice.
  • Assessment of NALSA's Role:
    • Lok Adalats:
      • Over 22 million cases have been settled through Lok Adalats since their inception. For instance, a National Lok Adalat in July 2018 disposed of nearly 5.6 lakh cases in a single day.
    • Legal Aid Clinics:
      • NALSA has established over 2,800 legal aid clinics in rural areas by 2020, with states like Chhattisgarh notably serving the tribal populations.
    • Awareness Programs:
      • Thousands of legal literacy programs have been conducted, with campaigns like "Connecting to Serve" in 2017 reaching thousands of villages.
    • Special Initiatives:
      • Under the NALSA Scheme for unorganised sector workers (2015), numerous legal aid camps have been organised. Additionally, legal aid counsel has been set up in juvenile homes, ensuring child-friendly legal services.


  • While NALSA has significantly contributed to free legal aid in India, expanding outreach and resource allocation remains necessary to ensure comprehensive access to justice for all citizens.

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