Cutting across party lines, MPs present at a parliamentary panel meeting of the law ministry on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction at the effectiveness of the Legal Aid Programme being funded by the government.
"The mechanism adopted for legal aid in providing assistance to the common man needs to be urgently reviewed and local MPs should be included while providing free legal aid during natural disasters," said an MP present at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Law and Justice, presided over by law minister Salman Khurshid.
Some member pointed out that common people and even MPs were not aware of the free legal aid being provided to people in areas facing natural disasters.
They were of the view that more awareness should be created about the free legal aid programmes and the local Members of Parliament should also be involved in implementation of the programme.
Some members are understood to have expressed concern that the legal aid provided to settle consumer disputes could overlap with the provisions of the proposed Citizens' Right to Grievance Redress Bill.
They are learnt to have supported putting free legal aid as one of the provisions of the draft Bill, which is now in public domain.
The law ministry, in a release after the meeting said, the "MPs of the Committee expressed the view that more awareness should be created about the free legal aid programmes."
A section of the members felt that Chief Justice of India, who is the patron-in-chief of the National Legal Services Authority, and its executive chairman should seek fortnightly reports from nodal officers of the Authority in the states to ensure its proper implementation.
The meeting was informed that the number of poor people benefiting from the legal aid programmes was consistently rising.