Emergence of Lok Adalat as the most efficacious tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- 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.
- A major contribution to this success can be attributed to the technological advancements.
- The Legal Services Authorities integrated technology with the conventional modes of dispute settlement and introduced virtual Lok Adalats also called as ‘E-Lok Adalats’. Since then, all the Lok Adalats including National Lok Adalats are organized through virtual and hybrid modes.
- To provide an unhindered experience during the proceedings, the Legal Services Authorities across the country are continuously upgrading their digital infrastructure.
- Due to these technological advancements, Lok Adalats have reached to the doorsteps of the parties.
- The parties are now able to join the Lok Adalat proceedings from their homes or workplaces, saving them the hassle of travelling and reserving a full day for an affair, which gets over within minutes.
- The other major factor in the success of Lok Adalats was the formulation of decisive strategies at the National level. Under these strategies, the State Legal Services Authorities were instructed to conduct meetings with various stakeholder 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.
- Moreover, certain areas of law having greater possibilities of settlement such as NI Act cases, Bank recovery cases along other financial matters were highlighted and authorities were instructed to explore all the possibilities of compromise in such cases.
- The authorities were advised to proactively monitor the issuance and completion of processes in such financial matters as well as to conduct pre-Lok Adalat sittings to take a matter to a settlement.
- Apart from these, the other disposed of cases were cheque bounce cases under NI Act, Bank Recovery Cases, Motor Accident Claims, Labour Disputes, matrimonial cases, etc.
Back to basics
About Lok Adalats
- Forum where the cases (or disputes) which are pending in a court or which are at pre-litigation stage (not yet brought before a court)
- ‘People’s Court’.
- Based on Gandhian principles.
- Components of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)
- Settle even petty cases
- There are no victors and vanquished and, thus, no rancour.
- statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987
- Lok Adalat has jurisdiction on any case pending before or any matter falling within the jurisdiction of and is not brought before any court for which the Lok Adalat is organised.
- It can deal with cases like compoundable civil, revenue and criminal cases, motor accident compensation claims, partition claims, damages cases, matrimonial and family disputes, land-related cases, bounded labour cases, bank unpaid loan cases, and so on.
- Despite the wide-ranging jurisdiction, the Lok Adalat is not allowed to deal with the non-compoundable criminal cases under any law. Thus, serious crimes are kept outside the ambit of Lok Adalats.
- Same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure (1908)
- requisite powers to specify its own procedure for the determination of any dispute coming before it.
- An award of a Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a decree of a Civil Court or an order of any other court. Every award made bya Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the No appeal shall lie to any court against the award of theLok Adalat.
- Benefits of Lok Adalat
- no court fee and if court fee is already paid the amount will be refunded
- no strict application of procedural laws like the Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act
- procedural flexibility and speedy trial
- directly interact with the judge
- binding on the parties and it has the status of a decree of a civil court and it is non-appealable
- Advantages of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)
- less expensive, less time-consuming, free from technicalities
- free to discuss their differences of opinion
- grievance is redressed and their relationship is restored
Permanent Lok Adalats
- The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was amended in 2002 to provide for the establishment of the Permanent Lok Adalats to deal with cases pertaining to the public utility services like transport, postal, telegraph etc.
- These have been set up as permanent bodies.
- It shall consist of a Chairman who is or has been a district judge or additional district judge or has held judicial office higher in rank than that of the district judge and two other persons having adequate experience in public utility services.
- It shall not have jurisdiction in respect of any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law. The jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalats is upto Rs. 1 Crore.
- Before the dispute is brought before any court, any party to the dispute may make an application to the Permanent Lok Adalat for settlement of the dispute. After an application is made to the Permanent Lok Adalat, no party to that application shall invoke jurisdiction of any court in the same dispute.
- It shall formulate the terms of a possible settlement and submit them to the parties for their observations and in case the parties reach an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall pass an award in terms thereof. In case parties to the dispute fail to reach an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall decide the dispute on merits.
- A major drawback of the Lok Adalats is that if the parties do not arrive at any compromise or settlement, the case is either returned to the court of law or the parties are advised to seek a remedy in a court of law. This causes unnecessary delay in the dispensation of justice.
- Every award made by the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties thereto and shall be by a majority of the persons constituting the Permanent Lok Adalat.
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