Reason to establish Lok Adalat in every district

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This article was written by Shalaka Srivastva a student of  Lloyd Law College.

Lok Adalat should be permanently established in each District of India as an organization body instead of organizing like an occasional event? If yes then why?

Yes, Lok Adalat is permanently established in each district as an organization body instead of organizing like an occasional event. Lok Adalat is the Indian legal system which has evolved a new technique of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is popularly known as Lok Adalat System. It owes its origin to the constitutional acceptance of legal aid under Article 39-A which subsequently received statutory recognisation consequent to the passing of the legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.[1] The Adalat which has come into force with effect from 9th November, 1995.

Concept of Lok Adalat

The word Lok Adalat, if freely translated means a “people’s court”. However, Lok Adalat is not a court of law (as existing anywhere in India) in its truest and accepted norm a connotation. It is defined “as a forum where voluntary effort aimed at bringing about settlement of disputes between the parties is made through conciliatory and pervasive efforts. The object of establishing Lok Adalats is to make access to justice more human, simple and effective. Justice P.N. Bhagwati described it as a “legal technology of peaceful transformation of society so as to ensure equal-cum-social justice.” Resolving disputes through Lok Adalat not only minimizes litigation expenditure, it saves valuable time of the parties appropriately to the satisfaction of both the parties.[2]  Lok Adalats are organized by the state legal Aid and Advisory Boards or District Legal Aid Committees. Lok Adalat is a quick solution which is provided by the organization for those who really wants the emergency need. This concept really changed the mind of various people which are related to our courts proceedings and all, but a easier and smooth process which maintain the dignity of that particular person as well as time too.

Generally, the days to conduct Lok Adalats are fixed a month in advance on Saturdays or Sundays only or holidays and given wide publicity. The student’s workers who participate get letters of appreciation and commutation charges. Usually retired judicial officers, judges, senior advocates and even non- lawyers are on the penal of Lok Adalat. Under the Act, the organization of Lok Adalats is co-ordinate through lower courts. It is like a ADR mechanism.

Lok Adalats as ADR:-

the literal meaning of the term ‘Lok Adalat’ is people’s Court. In a democratic country like India where Rule of law is the guiding principle administration of justice, ensuring equality before law and equal protection of law[3] to the entire citizen is the constitutional obligation of the state.

Organization of Lok Adalats:-

Lok Adalats are judicial bodies set up for the purpose of facilitating peaceful resolution of disputes between the litigating parties. They have the powers of an ordinary civil court such as summoning, examining; taking evidence etc. these Adalats can resolve matters except criminal case that compoundable.

Section 19 of the legal service Authorities Act, 1987 provides that every central, state or district legal service Authority or Supreme Court legal service Committee and High Court legal service Committee, as the case may be, the Taluka legal service Committee shall organize Lok Adalats at such intervals and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it may deem it.[4]

The qualifications and experience of these persons for Lok Adalats organized by the Supreme Court legal services Committee shall be such as which may be prescribed by the information of Central Government in Constitution with the presence of CJI.

Rule 13 of the National legal service Authority Rules provides that a person shall not be qualified to be included as a Lok Adalat member unless he is:

  • A member of legal profession; or
  • A person of repute who is specially interested in the implementation of the legal service schemes and programmes; or
  • An eminent worker who is engaged in the upliftment of the weaker section of the people, including the scheduled tribes, scheduled caste, women’s, children’s, rural and urban lobour.

Types of cases which Lok Adalat deals with:

The type of cases dealt with:-

  1. Mutation of land cases,
  2. Compoundable criminal offences,
  3. Encroachment on forest lands,
  4. Family disputes,
  5. Land acquisition disputes,
  6. Cases which are not sub-judice.

Resources and achievement of Lok Adalats

Lok Adalat lawyers can only expect gratitude of the people in distress in return. They must devote time for the cause of social justice and dedicate their services for its success. It is mainly organized in the premises of courts. The secretarial expenses are taken care of by states by allocating grants to legal Aid authorities. Lok Adalats are known as “people in the Supreme Courts” because the settlements are not always necessarily according to the matter of legal principles. Settlement has an eye mainly on:

  1. Social goals like ending quarrels;
  2. Restoring Family peace;
  3. Providing succour for destitudes.

It can work as real good substitute for settling cases which are pending in superior court sand due to this, making Lok Adalat as more powerful there are various functions which are more effectively and permanently, the need was felt to clothe Lok Adalats with more powers hence Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted.

Lok Adalat now a days are getting very good and effective place in India, there are various integral part of our historical past. It is an innovative most powerful Indian contribution to the field of world jurisprudence. “Lok” stands for the “people” and the bernacular meaning of the term “Adalat” is the court. In previous years, India has a long tradition and history of such methods being practiced in the society at its lowest level and that are mainly named as panchayat and in the legal terminology, these are called arbitration and that other alternative methods being used are Lok Adalat, where justice is dispensed summarily without too much emphasis or focused on legal technicalities. It has been proved to be a very effective major alternative to litigation. The ancient concept of settlement of disputes through various methods such as mediation, negotiation or through arbitral process is “People’s Court Verdict” and the philosophy of Lok Adalat in a very conceptualized and institutionalized process.

The salient features of the form of dispute resolution re participation, accommodation, fairness, expectation, voluntariness, neighborliness, transparency, efficiency and lack of animosity. This is a kind of system which has its deep roots in Indian legal history and its very close allegiance to the culture and its basic perception of justice in Indian ethos. Campus of Lok Adalats was started initially in Gujarat in the month of March year 1982 and now extended throughout the country. Lok Adalat have been very successful in settling the matter of motor accident claim cases, disputes related to matrimonial/family, labour disputes, disputes relating to public services such as telephone, electricity, bank recovery cases and so on.

Procedure at Lok Adalat:

The procedure followed t a Lok Adalat is very simple, almost all legal formalism and rituals. It is presided over by a retired or setting judicial officer as in the position of chairman, with two other members, usually a lawyer which may be as a social worker. With one most important condition and that is both parties in disputes should agree for settlement through Lok Adalat and abide by its decision. It has the jurisdiction to settle, by way of effecting compromise between the parties, where any matter which may be pending in or before any court, and the other matters which at pre-limitative stage. It can take cognizance of matters involving not only those persons who are entitled to avail free legal services.

Finality of Lok Adalat:

During the Lok Adalat, the parties agree to avid by the decision of the judge at the Lok Adalat. The award of it is fictionally deemed to be decrees of court and therefore the courts the powers to all in relation thereto as it has in relation to a decree passed by itself. That includes all the powers to extend time in appropriate cases in appropriate manner. The award passed by the Lok Adalat is the court itself and through arrived at by very simpler method of conciliation rather than the matter of the process of arguments in court.

Jurisdiction:

The jurisdiction of Lok Adalats is to determine and to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in cases pending before any court or any matter which fails within the jurisdiction of the courts but has not been brought before them. Lok Adalats are not to have jurisdiction in respect of matters relating to an offence which is not compoundable under any law. It means, therefore, that their jurisdiction is equal to civil courts.

Benefits of Lok Adalat:

There are many benefits that drive through Lok Adalats, and they are as follows:-

  • There is no court fee and even if the case is already field in the regular court, the fee paid will be refunded if the dispute is settled at the Lok Adalat.
  • There is no such kind of strict application of the procedural laws and the Evidence Act while assessing the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat, represented by their advocates can interact with the Lok Adalat judge directly and explain their stand in the place of dispute and there reasons behind therefore, which is not possible in a regular court of law.
  • These disputes can be brought before the Lok Adalat directly instead of going to a regular court first and then to the Lok Adalat.
  • And the decision of the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties to the dispute and its order is capable of execution through legal process.

The High Court of Andhra Pradesh held that, in Board of Trustee of the Port of Visakhapatnam v. Presiding Officer, permanent, Lok Adalat, the award as a decree and it is final.

Permanent Lok Adalats

During the past few years, the emergence of Lok Adalat has been found to be a successful tool of alternate dispute resolution solution in India. It’s functioning continuously and permanently in every district centre. Thousands of several pending cases and disputes which had not reached law courts have been settled through Lok Adalats. In Lok Adalat party’s content & concern is very important for settlement of the disputes.

Amendment of 2002, chapter VIA of the legal service Authorities, provided for establishment of permanent Lok Adalat in the name of providing for pre-litigation conciliation and settlement’ permanent Lok Adalat is headed by either former or sitting district judge or additional district judge or officer of rank higher than district judge.

Other forms of Lok Adalats or alternative disputes settlement:

  1. Mini Lok Adalat: – at sub-district level and in villages are like forums, functioning in rural areas, with all the expediency. Local advocates and officials and social workers. They settle cases which have gone to courts and cases which have not gone to courts.
  2. Village Courts: – these are unit’s self-government. They are like village panchayat.
  3. Compromise and functions: – there are not less than five members. Local residents without legal qualifications may act as members.
  4. Mediation centre: – the objectives are to promote settlement of disputes before they are taken to the regular courts, they are run through a mediator-lawyer.
  5. Centers for women: – to give a special status to women and their exclusive problems. Their role is to deal with matrimonial problems. They also help in settling disputes involving women. They promote rights of women. Family get special attention of
  6. Voluntary agencies

Powers of the Lok Adalat:-

The proceeding of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings[5], vested in a civil court under the CPC, 1908 while trying the suit in respect of the following :-

  • By enforcing and summoning the attendance of any types of witness and examining him by on oath;
  • Discovery an production of any document;
  • Receiving evidence or affidavits;
  • Requisitioning of any public record or documents or copy thereof from any court or office, and
  • Such other matters as may be prescribed.

Lok Adalat has also the power to specify its own procedure for the determination of any dispute coming before it.

Conclusion:-

Lok Adalat is on the permanent basic is shifted in India. A good and best short way to solve the dispute which arises between the parties. Generally in India, lots of pending cases was there but not in that condition to be heard at least once. So it is on the level of every district of India and it is a part of an organization body which takes it as a organizing event at some duration of time, but not as occasional event. Experience has been that indifferences to Lok Adalats wanted off and the efficacy of this novel and informal system becomes sprouted. Hence, those are now being demanded on “permanent basis” in the manner of regular law courts. If we look at the present scenario than we will find that the functions which are used by them is more effectively and permanently, the need was felt to clothe Lok Adalats with more powers. Hence, Lok Adalat should be permanently established in each District of India as an organization body instead of organizing like as occasional event.

[1] This act is analogous to the U.S. Legal Services Corporation Act, 1974. In England, the legal Aid and advice Act, 1949 was enacted on the recommendations made in the Rusholiffe Report.

[2] K.RAMASWAMY J.Legal Aid News Letter, December 1995.

[3] Art.14, Constitution of India.

[4] Substituted by Act 59 of 1994 w.e.f. 29.10.1994.

[5] Section 22 (3)

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