Mumbai witnessed mob frenzy, violence, communal tension and riots from 06.12.1992 to 10.12.1992 and from 06.01.1993 to 20.01.1993. When citizens of Mumbai were about to breathe a sigh of relief, there were serial bomb blasts on 12.03.1993.  

The meaning of ‘ethnic’ according to Merriam­-Webster Dictionary is, “of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background.” The term ‘ethnic’ can be narrowly construed as including solely ‘lingustic’ or ‘racial’ groups. If it is given a broad meaning, it will include ‘religion’, ‘tribe’ and ‘caste’ in group distinction. Considering object of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 a broad meaning will have to be assigned to ‘ethnic’ for purposes of considering entitlement to grant of ‘legal aid’.

We hope and trust, after 75 years of independence, riot­-like situations will never arise. Unfortunately, if such situations arise, we are sure, Legal Services Authorities will come rescue, keeping in mind spirit of Section 12 of 1987 Act.

Hon’ble Justice Abhay S. Oka, Shakeel Ahmed v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 182 of 2001].