As per the mandate of Article 39-A of the Constitution of India, to secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunity, and in particular to provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunity for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability, the sapling of Legal Services in the State of Punjab was sown through Notification dated 20.3.1991 in the name and style of Punjab State Legal Services Board, issued by the President of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Rule 3 of Punjab State Grant of Free Legal Services to the Poor Rules, 1990. Its Chairman was Governor of Punjab and Executive Chairman Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court with the then Hon'ble Mr. Justice Harbans Singh Rai as its first Executive Chairman. It had nine Ex-officio Members besides five Nominated Members. The Director, Legal Services, Punjab, was made Member Secretary of the Board. The basic work carried out by the said board was providing Free Legal Aid and holding Lok Adalats.
This sapling further grew into small plant with the establishment of the Directorate of Legal Services in the State, Vide Notification dated 17.6.1991 issued by the President of India. At that time, the Legal Services Institution of the state was headed by Director Legal Services, in the rank of Additional District & Sessions Judge. Vide order dated 16.12.1992, Sh. B.C. Rajput, the then Additional Legal Remembrancer and Joint Secretary to Government of Punjab, was appointed as Director, Legal Services, Punjab and was given the powers of Head of Department. Besides Director, there were two posts of Additional Director, Legal Services, Punjab, having its seats at Patiala and Jalandhar. Vide order dated 19.09.1996, the said two posts of Jalandhar and Patiala were abolished and in their place, same two posts were created in the office of Director Legal Services, Punjab.
This plant finally grew into tree on 04.10.1996 with the establishment of Legal Services Authority for the State of Punjab. Similarly, Vide Notification dated 18.11.1996, District Legal Services Authorities were constituted for every District in the State of Punjab, with District and Sessions Judge as its Chairman. Similarly, Vide Notification dated 11.12.1996, Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committees were constituted for every Sub-Division in the State of Punjab, with Senior Civil Judge operating in the Sub-Division as its Ex-Officio Chairman. Vide Notification dated 15.07.1998, all assets and liabilities of the Directorate, Legal Services, Punjab, were transferred to the Legal Services Authority for the State of Punjab. Consequent thereupon, the State Legal Services Authority Rules, 1996, came in existence. In the 6th All India Meet held at Kochi, Kerala on 17.02.2007 and 18.02.2007, it was resolved to appoint Full Time Secretary in all the District Legal Services Authorities in the State of Punjab. Consequent thereupon, the Punjab Council of Ministers Vide its Meeting dated 07.06.2012 sanctioned the independent posts of Secretaries, District Legal Services Authorities in the rank of Civil Judge (Senior Division) to look after the work of legal services in each District.
Initial set up of the independent office was in SCO No. 3001-3002, Sector 22-D, Chandigarh. In the year 2014, the office shifted in the Building of Old District Courts Complex, Sector 17, Chandigarh, available with the Hon'ble Punjab and Haryana High Court, temporarily. Finally, the State Authority shifted to its own independent Building at Site No. 126, Opposite GMADA Community Center, Sector 69, SAS Nagar (Mohali), on 09.07.2017, after it being inaugurated by the Hon'ble Mr. Justice Deepak Misra, Judge Supreme Court of India and the then Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority, New Delhi.
In the year 2012, the State Authority had the privilege to launch its Toll Free Helpline No. 1968 to contact it for providing the Legal Services. Similarly, an official website www.pulsa.gov.in was also launched in the year 2012. The Permanent Lok Adalats (Public Utility Services) were established, Vide Notification dated 15.12.2005 in all the Districts of Punjab for the disposal of Public Utility Services matters, notified from time to time.
Since the year 2013, independent Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) Centers have been established in all the Districts of Punjab. As on date, 15 Districts have their independent Centers, whereas the creation of the same in other Districts is under progress. Since 22.7.2013, the work of Mediation, earlier looked after by the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee, Punjab and Haryana High Court, is also being looked after by the Legal Services Authorities, with the establishment of Mediation Centers. The statistical figures regarding the activities carried out have been provided from time to time. On 09.07.2017, another feather was added in the cap of Punjab State Legal Services Authority through setting up of Legal Assistance Establishment-SAARTHI.