Lok Adalat

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    • Recently, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) decided to lay more emphasis on the contribution of National Lok Adalat in effectively reducing the number of pending cases through Alternative Dispute Mechanisms.

    Steps being taken to make National Lokadalat more effective

    • The Legal Services Authorities shifted to dynamic preparation strategies for organisation of the Lok Adalats. 
    • As a preparatory measure, NALSA started the organisation of prior consultative and review meetings with all the State Legal Services Authorities to guide them towards the maximum disposal during such Lok Adalats. 
    • Before the organisation of each National Lok Adalat, multiple interactions were organised with the Executive Chairpersons of all the State Legal Services Authorities, wherein one-to-one interactions were made to take a stock of the preparations as well as to boost the morale of the stakeholders tasked to organise the Lok Adalats.

     

    Lok Adalat

    • About:
      • Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms.
      • It is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably
    • Article 39 A:
      • With 42nd Amendment Act of Constitution of 1976, Article 39-A, has been inserted which requires the State to secure that the operation of the legal system:
        • Promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, 
        • Provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, 
        • Ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. 
    • Legal status:
      • Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987
    • Decision of the Lok Adalat:
      • Under the said Act, the award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
      • If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.
    • Court fee: 
      • There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat. 
      • If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties. 
    • Role of members of Lok Adalats:
      • The persons deciding the cases in the Lok Adalats are called the Members of the Lok Adalats, they have the role of statutory conciliators only and do not have any judicial role.
      • Therefore, they can only persuade the parties to come to a conclusion for settling the dispute outside the court in the Lok Adalat.
      • They shall not pressurise or coerce any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either directly or indirectly.
    • Difference between Lok Adalat and a regular Court:
      • The difference between Lok Adalat and law court is that the law court sits at its premises where the litigants come with their lawyers and witnesses go to the people to deliver justice at their doorstep. 
      • It is a forum provided by the people themselves or by interested parties including social activities or social activist legal aiders, and public-spirited people belonging to every walk of life. 
      • It is just a firm forum provided by the people themselves for enabling the common people to ventilate their grievances against the state agencies or against other citizens and to seek a just settlement if possible.
    • The types of cases dealt with generally are:
      • Mutation of land cases.
      • Compoundable criminal offences.
      • Family disputes.
      • Encroachment on forest lands.
      • Land acquisition disputes.
      • Motor accident claim, and
      • Cases which are not sub-judice.

    Significance & Result of such measures

    • Across the country, a total number of 1,27,87,329 cases were disposed of in four National Lok Adalats, which included a huge number of pending cases i.e., 55,81,117 and a record number of pre-litigation cases i.e., 72,06,212. 
    • Through these activities the Legal Services Authorities disposed of a large number of cases giving relief to the common citizens by ending or preventing long lasting legal battles.
    • Due to technological advancement like E-Lok Adalats, Lok Adalats have reached doorsteps of parties
    • Formulation of decisive strategies at the National level also proved successful. 
      • Under these strategies, the State Legal Services Authorities were instructed to conduct meetings with various stakeholders across every level with an objective to ensure their full cooperation and coordination
      • The authorities were guided to follow a litigant friendly approach as well as to persuade such litigants to settle the cases involving settled propositions of law.
    • Lok Adalat is a system of a dispensation of justice which has come into existence to grapple with the problem of giving cheap and speedy justice to the people.

     

    Conclusion

    • With a large number of disposals through Lok Adalats, a balance was created by the Legal Services Authorities in the judicial administration of the country. 
    • There is no gainsaying that the Lok Adalats settled a greater number of cases than any other dispute resolution mechanism and emerged as the most efficacious tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism.

     

    Other forms of Lok-Adalats

    • Mini Lok Adalat: 
      • Legal aid camps or Lok-Adalats at sub-district level and in villages are like forums, functioning in rural areas specially to cater to rural and tribal people competently and at their door steps to resolve disputes with all the expediency.
    • Village Courts: 
      • These are units of self-government they are like village Panchayat’s administration is a state subject hence state Panchayats Raj institutions enactments come into play, giving rise to village courts under Article 40 of our Constitution.
    • Mediation Centres: 
      • These mediating Centres were started in the year 1983 in Tamil Nadu legal aid and advice Board.
    • Centres for women: 
      • To give a special status to women and their exclusive problems Tamil Nadu state gave thrust and expansion to women mediation centres by starting such centres exclusively for women whose role is to deal with matrimonial problems. 
      • They also help in setting disputes involving women. 
      • They promote nights of women family matters get special attention of:
        • Voluntary agencies
        • Professionals.
    • Mobile Lok Adalats: 
      • They are also organised in various parts of the country which travel from one location to another to resolve disputes in order to facilitate the resolution of disputes through this mechanism.

    Source: PIB