Nirma University

Institute of Law B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) Programme II Semester
Report of 1st Internship Training With Research Foundation for Governance in India NGO As a part of Clinical Training For the academic year 2009-10 On the topic of Efficiency of Lok Adalats

Prepared & Submitted By Alok Ratnoo – 09BAL102

Sr. No
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Table of Content Subject
Preface Acknowledgement Certificate List of abbreviations Brief About NGO Introduction Project Description

Page No

8 9 10 11

New Issues in The Lok Adalat Concept Applicability & Enforcement of

Laws Critical Analysis of Lok Adalats Conclusion & Suggestion

12 13

Bibliography Appendix

1.

Preface

This project is an outcome of the three weeks placement programme of Institute of law, Nirma University of Science & Technology for the students of second semester. The main constituents of the report are the report on fieldwork carried out during the internship, the research on related issues and the weekly report of my work. I have

tried my best to do justice with my activities and put it in black and white with the same effort as I did it during the interns at R.F.G.I (Research Foundation for Governance in India)

Date:

Name & Signature of Trainee

2. Certificate
This is to certify that Mr. ALOK RATNOO a student of II Semester of Institute of

Law, Nirma University has sincerely completed three weeks Internship training (1st March,2010 to 21st March, 2010) under my guidance & Supervision with Research Foundation For Governance in India (R. F. G.I.)

Date: __________________________________ (Name & Signature of Guiding & Supervising Officer)

3. Acknowledgment:

For this research project made in the internship programme granted by Nirma University Institute of law on ‘Efficiency of Lok Adalats’ I would like to thank many people for making this project possible.

First of all, I would like to thank my Mother and Father for constantly encouraging me to take up and complete this project efficiently.

Secondly to Miss. Kanan Dhru and entire team R.F.G.I for accepting me as an intern in their organization; helping and training me in all possible means to complete my research activity on the above said project. And would also like to thank them for providing me with such a great platform to work, as without it, it would not have been possible for me to undertake this research activity. I would also like to thank:1. High court Legal Service Committee and Legal Aid Centre of Gujarat. 2. Metropolitan Magistrate Mr. D. I. Patel of Gheekanta court, Ahmedabad. 3. Advocate Mr. R. F. Bhagat & Mr. D. K. Saresa.

All these people have really facilitated my empirical research and case study. Thank you to all once again.

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Alok Ratnoo

4. List of Abbreviations:
1. R.F.G.I – RESEARCH FOUNDATION FOR GOVERNANCE IN INDIA 2. N.G.O – NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS 3. ADR – ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION 4. PUS – PUBLIC UTILITY SERVICES 5. PLA – PERMANENT LOK ADALAT 6. NALSA – NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY 7. Hon’ble – Honorable 8. CPC – CIVIL PROCEDURE CODE 9. MVA – MOTOR VEHICLES ACT 10.MACT – MOTOR ACCIDENT CLAIMS TRIBUNAL

5. A Brief of R.F.G.I (NGO):
The Research Foundation for Governance in India (RFGI) is a think-tank that is active in the area of evolving a legal thought on 'good governance' through involving citizens from different spheres of the society. The Research Foundation for Governance has a broad perspective on "governance". RFGI adopts a definition that based upon the one given by the European Commission: "rules, processes and behaviour that affect the way in which powers are exercised…. particularly as regards openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence" The Foundation is a non-party, neutral and independent Foundation and does not support or endorse any political candidate/party or extreme political ideology.

The Research Foundation for Governance in India
Founders: Type: Founded: Kanan Dhru Research, Awareness, Consulting 26 January 2009 3, Brahmin Mitra Mandal Society, Headquarters: Mangaldas Road, Ellisbridge, Ahmedabad – 380006, India Staff:

Founder & Managing Director Kanan Dhru Director Kelly Dhru Director Swar Shah Area served: Focus: India Good Governance, Legal System, Civil Society To help create strong processes of Mission: governance and an aware citizenry, primarily through seeking reforms in the legal and political arena. Method: Volunteers: Members: Website: Research, Awareness, Consulting 18 600+ Research Foundation for Governance in India

Introduction
Started in January, 2009 The Research Foundation for Governance: in India (RFGI) is an Ahmedabad based think tank. RFGI is a one of its kind think-tank in the area of Law and Governance, with the idea of a citizenry, and particularly the youth, more aware and participative to the legal processes in the country. The objective of the Foundation is to help create strong processes of governance and an aware citizenry, primarily through seeking reforms in the legal and political arena by involving youth from different spheres. RFGI aim to pursue this objective through spreading awareness on laws pertaining to governance as well as by conducting research on key legal issues which affects governance of the country. RFGI has a member-base of 600 and growing. This includes eminent academicians, industrialists, lawyers, media professionals, policy-makers, politicians and students. The

organization has the potential to grow in the future, given the needs of political and legal reforms in the country.

Focus areas and activities
The activities of RFGI are structured around mainly three focus areas: 1) Awareness, 2) Research, 3) Consulting. Awareness Initiatives One of the primary objectives of the foundation is to spread awareness on issues pertaining to governance and law amongst the citizens of India. The Foundation seeks to make people think about politics in a more positive way through making presentations and interactive sessions in schools and colleges, organizing discussions and debates, and by getting more and more people interested in the process of governance. The following are some of the awareness initiatives carried out by RFGI:
• • •

Partnered with Jaago Re! One Billion Votes to promote voter registration for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections Conducted a six-week project on local governance with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Indicorps Conducting presentations on citizenship and democracy at local schools and colleges in Ahmedabad

Research The research activities at the Foundation include examining and undertaking research on issues concerning politics, law, governance, infrastructure, functioning of public institution, welfare related issues, including those pertaining to elections as part of the function. The Foundation, through its research activities recommends and advocates systems of good governance at different levels of the society. Some of RFGI's publications are the following:

“Acquisition of Land for ‘Development’ projects in India: The need for serious reconsideration of existing law” - Kelly Dhru, 2008 “Whether the graduates of the National Law Schools cater to the need of Bar/Bench?” - Rohit Moonka “Freedom within the Law - The Search for Adivasi Autonomy” - Curtis Riep, 2009

RFGI Impact As part of the first phase of this project, RFGI had organized a panel discussion on the issue on 5th July, 2009 at GLS Auditorium, Gujarat. The event was graced by the Chief Justice of Gujarat, Mr. Justice Radhakrishnan as well as Dr. Madhava Menon, Founder Director, National Law School Bangalore and National Judicial Academy, Bhopal.

The seminar was a big success and was able to generate debate and discussion on key issues pertaining to legal reforms. Two of the recommendations which stemmed from the seminar are already in the stage of implementation:

RFGI has been invited by the Gujarat Bar Association as Advisors on their 'Education & Training' Committee and work has already begun on structuring courses for training of the young lawyers in Gujarat. Shri Veerappa Moily, Union Law Minister, recently announced scholarships for young lawyers

Consulting The Foundation gets directly involved with Government projects and initiatives through its consultancy work. This involves working closely with different Government departments and organisations. One recent consultancy project was that on Library Development in the city of Ahmedabad for the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. RFGI's recommendations are now being implemented by the relevant Government authority.

Advisors and Associate Organisations:
The following prominent individuals provide continuous support and direction to the activities of RFGI:
• • • •

Professor (Dr.) Madhava Menon, Founder Director, National Law School and National Judicial Academy Professor Dilip Mavalankar, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad Dr. Kireet Joshi, Education Advisor to the Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Girish Patel, post graduate from Havard Law School, Senior Counsel at the High Court of Gujarat and a social activist.

RFGI has collaborated on various projects and activities with the following organisations and institutions:
• • • • • • •

Jaago Re! One Billion Votes OS Open Space Accountability Initiative ADR Association for Democratic Reforms Indicorps The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM) Janaagraha

6. Introduction:
(It introduces your journey of learning through project of NGO) I am immensely happy and very much obliged to describe my journey of learning through the project on ‘Efficiency of Lok Adalats’ which I made during my internship period with Research Foundation for Governance in India. I got to learn a lot of things from this research project. Though I earlier knew that there is some kind of alternate dispute mechanism working in the Indian Judicial system but by picking up this research project on the ‘Efficiency of Lok Adalats’ it is for sure that I have gained tremendous amount of knowledge both theoretical and practical on the working of this system. Interviewing different legal fraternities have definitely cleared my many doubts regarding the working of law in the society, how people are getting benefitted from the Lok Adalats and is this a better way of disposal of overgrowing burden of cases in Indian judiciary? The experiences of talking with different people have really increased. So it can be said that research activity carried under R.F.G.I. came out to be very resourceful and have helped and encouraged me tremendously to undertake such projects in the near future. Interviewing the real persons related to this concept was a fun, enjoyment and at the same times a knowledge gaining activity. I have even prepared a question answer session in this regard which is in the appendix and it will give you a glance at the actual functioning of the Lok Adalats. The way in which I carried on my project will be explained in the project description part.

7. Project Description and Main Topics:
1. Lok Adalats in India:
ADR has been an integral part of our historical past. Like the zero, the concept of Lok Adalat (Peoples' Court) is an innovative Indian contribution to the world jurisprudence. The institution of Lok Adalat in India, as the very name suggests, means, People's Court. "Lok" stands for "people" and the vernacular meaning of the term "Adalat" is the court. India has a long tradition and history of such methods being practiced in the society at grass roots level. These are called panchayat and in the legal terminology, these are called arbitration. These are widely used in India for resolution of disputes both commercial and noncommercial. Other alternative methods being used are Lok Adalat (People's Court), where justice is dispensed summarily without too much emphasis on legal technicalities. It has been proved to be a very effective alternative to litigation. The ancient concept of settlement of dispute through mediation, negotiation or through arbitral process known as "Peoples' Court verdict" or decision of "NyayaPanch" is conceptualized and institutionalized in the philosophy of Lok Adalat. Some people equate Lok Adalat to conciliation or mediation; some treat it with negotiations and arbitration. Those who find it different from all these, call it "Peoples' Court". It involves people who are directly or indirectly affected by dispute resolution. The salient features of this form of dispute resolution are participation, accommodation, fairness, expectation, voluntariness, neighborliness, transparency, efficiency and lack of animosity. The concept of Lok Adalats was pushed back into oblivion in last few centuries before independence and particularly during the British regime. Now, this concept has, once again, been rejuvenated. It has, once again, become very popular and

familiar amongst litigants. This is the system which has deep roots in Indian legal history and its close allegiance to the culture and perception of justice in Indian ethos. Experience has shown that it is one of the very efficient and important ADRs and most suited to the Indian environment, culture and societal interests. Camps of Lok Adalats were started initially in Gujarat in March 1982 and now it has been extended throughout the Country. The evolution of this movement was a part of the strategy to relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases and to give relief to the litigants who were in a queue to get justice. The first Lok Adalat was held on March 14, 1982 at Junagarh in Gujarat the land of Mahatma Gandhi. Lok Adalats have been very successful in settlement of motor accident claim cases, matrimonial/family disputes, labour disputes, and disputes relating to public services such as telephone, electricity, bank recovery cases and so on. Some statistics may give us a feeling of tremendous satisfaction and encouragement. Up to the middle of last year (2004), more than 200,000 Lok Adalats have been held and therein more than16 million cases have been settled, half of which were motor accident claim cases. More than one billion US dollars were distributed by way of compensation to those who had suffered accidents. 6.7 million Persons have benefited through legal aid and advice. The Statistics of the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority as to the number of cases disposed, the amount of compensation paid etc. have been annexed herewith.

1.1 Legislation pertaining to Lok Adalats:
The advent of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 gave a statutory status to Lok Adalats, pursuant to the constitutional mandate in Article 39-A of the Constitution of India, contains various provisions for settlement of disputes through Lok Adalat. It is an Act to constitute legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity. Even before the enforcement of the Act, the concept of Lok Adalat has been getting wide acceptance as People's Courts as the very name signifies. Settlement of disputes at the hands of Panchayat Heads or tribal heads was in vogue since

ancient times. When statutory recognition had been given to Lok Adalat, it was specifically provided that the award passed by the Lok Adalat formulating the terms of compromise will have the force of decree of a court which can be executed as a civil court decree.

1.2 Procedure at Lok Adalat:
The procedure followed at a Lok Adalat is very simple and shorn of almost all legal formalism and rituals. The Lok Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judicial officer as the chairman, with two other members, usually a lawyer and a social worker. It is revealed by experience that in Lok Adalats it is easier to settle money claims since in most such cases the quantum alone may be in dispute. Thus the motor accident compensation claim cases are brought before the Lok Adalat and a number of cases were disposed of in each Lok Adalat. One important condition is that both parties in dispute should agree for settlement through Lok Adalat and abide by its decision. A Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to settle, by way of effecting compromise between the parties, any matter which may be pending before any court, as well as matters at pre-litigative stage i.e. disputes which have not yet been formally instituted in any Court of Law. Such matters may be civil or criminal in nature, but any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law cannot be decided by the Lok Adalat even if the parties involved therein agree to settle the same. Lok Adalats can take cognizance of matters involving not only those persons who are entitled to avail free legal services but of all other persons also, be they women, men, or children and even institutions. Anyone, or more of the parties to a dispute can move an application to the court where their matter may be pending, or even at pre-litigative stage, for such matter being taken up in the Lok Adalat whereupon the Lok Adalat Bench constituted for the purpose shall attempt to resolve the dispute by helping the parties to arrive at an amicable solution and once it is successful in doing so, the award passed by it shall be final which has as much force as a decree of a Civil Court obtained after due contest.

1.3 Finality of Lok Adalat award:
One issue which raises its head often is the finality of the award of the Lok Adalat. During the Lok Adalat, the parties agree to abide by the decision of the

judge at the Lok Adalat. However, it is often seen that later, the same order is challenged on several grounds. In one of the recent decisions, the Supreme Court of India has once again laid to rest all such doubts. In unequivocal terms, the Court has held that award of the Lok Adalat is as good as the decree of a Court. The award of the Lok Adalat is fictionally deemed to be decrees of Court and therefore the courts have all the powers in relation thereto as it has in relation to a decree passed by itself. This includes the powers to extend time in appropriate cases. The award passed by the Lok Adalat is the decision of the court itself though arrived at by the simpler method of conciliation instead of the process of arguments in court.

1.4 Consent of Parties:
The most important factor to be considered while deciding the cases at the Lok Adalat is the consent of both the parties. It can not be forced on any party that the matter has to be decided by the Lok Adalat. However, once the parties agree that the matter has to be decided by the Lok Adalat, then any party cannot walk away from the decision of the Lok Adalat. In several instances, the Supreme Court has held that if there was no consent the award of the Lok Adalat is not executable and also if the parties fail to agree to get the dispute resolved through Lok Adalat, the regular litigation process remains open for the contesting parties. The Supreme Court has also held that compromise implies some element of accommodation on each side. It is not apt to describe it as total surrender. A compromise is always bilateral and means mutual adjustment. Settlement is termination of legal proceedings by mutual consent. If no compromise or settlement is or could be arrived at, no order can be passed by the Lok Adalat.

1.5 Benefits of Lok Adalat:
The benefits that litigants derive through the Lok Adalats are many. # First, there is no court fee and even if the case is already filed in the regular court, the fee paid will be refunded if the dispute is settled at the Lok Adalat. # Second, there is no strict application of the procedural laws and the Evidence Act while assessing the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat. The parties to the

disputes though represented by their advocate can interact with the Lok Adalat judge directly and explain their stand in the dispute and the reasons therefore, which is not possible in a regular court of law. # Third, disputes can be brought before the Lok Adalat directly instead of going to a regular court first and then to the Lok Adalat.? Fourthly, the decision of the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties to the dispute and its order is capable of execution through legal process. No appeal lies against the order of the Lok Adalat whereas in the regular law courts there is always a scope to appeal to the higher forum on the decision of the trial court, which causes delay in the settlement of the dispute finally. The reason being that in a regular court, decision is that of the court but in Lok Adalat it is mutual settlement and hence no case for appeal will arise. In every respect the scheme of Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public, where they can get their disputes settled fast and free of cost. # Last but not the least, faster and inexpensive remedy with legal status. The system has received laurels from the parties involved in particular and the public and the legal functionaries, in general. It also helps in emergence of jurisprudence of peace in the larger interest of justice and wider sections of society. Its process is voluntary and works on the principle that both parties to the disputes are willing to sort out their disputes by amicable solutions. Through this mechanism, disputes can be settled in a simpler, quicker and cost-effective way at all the three stages i.e. pre-litigation, pending-litigation and post-litigation. Overall effect of the scheme of the Lok Adalat is that the parties to the disputes sit across the table and sort out their disputes by way of conciliation in presence of the Lok Adalat Judges, who would be guiding them on technical legal aspects of the controversies. The scheme also helps the overburdened Court to alleviate the burden of arrears of cases and as the award becomes final and binding on both the parties, no appeal is filed in the Appellate Court and, as such, the burden of the Appellate Court in hierarchy is also reduced. The scheme is not only helpful to the parties, but also to the overburdened Courts to achieve the constitutional goal of speedy disposal of the cases. About 90% of the cases filed in the developed countries are settled mutually by conciliation, mediation etc. and, as such, only 10% of the cases are decided by the Courts there. In our country, which is developing, has unlike the developed countries, number of Judges disproportionate to the cases filed and, hence, to alleviate the accumulation of cases, the Lok Adalat is the need of the day.

8. New issues in the Lok Adalats Concept :
1. Permanent Lok Adalats:
During the last few years Lok Adalat has been found to be a successful tool of alternate dispute resolution in India. It is most popular and effective because of its innovative nature and inexpensive style. The system received wide acceptance not only from the litigants, but from the public and legal functionaries in general. In India, during the last few years Lok Adalat has been functioning continuously and permanently in every District Centre. In Taluka centers also sittings of Lok Adalats have been held successfully. Several thousands of pending cases and disputes which had not reached law courts have been settled through Lok Adalats. The major defect of the mechanism of Lok Adalat is that it cannot take a decision, if one of the parties, is not willing for a settlement, though the case involves an element of settlement. The adamant attitude shown by one among the parties will render the entire process futile. Even if all the members of the Lok Adalat are of the opinion that the case is a fit one for settlement, under the present set-up, they cannot take a decision unless all the parties consent. In his inaugural address at the second annual meet of the State Legal Services Authorities, 1999, the then Hon'ble Chief Justice Dr. A.S. Anand airing him views stated thus: "There will be no harm if Legal Services Authorities Act is suitably amended to provide that in case, in a matter before it, the Judges of the Lok Adalats are satisfied that one of the parties is unreasonably opposing a reasonable settlement and has no valid defence whatsoever against the claim of the opposite party, they may pass an award on the basis of the materials before them without the consent of one or more parties. It may also be provided that against such awards, there would be one appeal to the court to which the appeal would have gone if the matter had been decided by a court.... This course, I think, would give relief to a very large number of litigants coming to Lok Adalats at prelitigative stage as well as in pending matters."

In 2002, Parliament brought about certain amendments to the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. The said amendment introduced Chapter VI-A with the caption PRE LITIGATION CONCILIATION AND SETTLEMENT. Section 22B envisages establishment of "PERMANENT LOK ADALATS (PLA)" at different places for considering the cases in respect of Public Utility Services (PUS). If there is a dispute with respect to PUS, as per Section 22-C(1), any party to such a dispute can, before bringing it to a court of law for adjudication, make an application to PLA for the settlement of that dispute. The party making such application need not be a party who raises a claim against a public utility service. If a claim is made by one against a public utility service, the establishment carrying out the public utility service can also raise that dispute before PLA to resolve it. The only limitation is that PLA shall not have jurisdiction to consider a dispute relating to an offence not compoundable under any law or any matter where the value of the property in dispute exceeds Rs.10 lakhs. But the Central Government can, by an appropriate notification, increase this limit. Once an application has been made to PLA by one party, no party to that application shall invoke the jurisdiction of any court in the same dispute. PLA has to be established by the National Legal Services Authority or the State Legal Services Authorities. It shall have three members; the Chairman, who is or has been a District Judge or an Additional District Judge or has held a judicial office higher in rank than that of a District Judge and two other members having adequate experience in public utility service. Such persons shall be appointed by the State or the Central Authority, as the case may be, upon nomination by the respective Governments. But at the same time, such nomination shall be on the recommendation of the Central or the State Authority. Section 22-C(3) provides that when an application is filed raising a dispute, the parties shall be directed to file written statements with appropriate proof, including documents and other evidence. Copies of documents produced and statements made by the parties shall be given to each other. Thereafter PLA shall conduct conciliation proceedings between the parties to bring about an amicable settlement to the dispute. It is the primary duty of PLA as per Section 22-C(4). While conducting such conciliation proceedings, it is incumbent on the members of PLA to assist the parties to reach an amicable settlement. The parties are also obliged to cooperate in good faith with PLA. If PLA is of the opinion that "there exist elements of settlement in such proceedings, which may be acceptable to the parties", it shall formulate the terms of possible settlement, communicate its observations to the parties and if the parties agree, the settlement shall be signed and an award shall be passed in terms of such settlement and

copies of the award shall be furnished to the parties. See Section 22-C(7). It is also provided in sub-section (8) that in cases where there exist elements of settlement, but the parties’ fails to reach at an agreement, "the Permanent Lok Adalat shall, if the dispute does not relate to any offence, decide the dispute". "For the purpose of holding any determination" the Permanent Lok Adalat shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 while trying a suit, in respect of summoning and enforcing of attendance and examining of witnesses, discovery or production of documents, reception of evidence on affidavits, requisitioning of public records and documents and such other matter as the Government may prescribe. PLA can specify its own procedure for deciding the dispute coming before it and the proceedings shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings. The award of PLA, whether made on merit or on settlement shall be final and binding on parties and be deemed to be a decree of a civil court. It shall be executed as if it is a decree of a civil court having jurisdiction in respect of the dispute involved. But the award cannot be called in question in any "original suit, application or execution proceedings". This, in effect, is the scheme of the amendment establishing a Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA). This will, certainly, prove to be very effective, litigant-friendly and less-expensive mechanism to resolve certain serious disputes. As PUS’s are rendered mainly by corporate bodies, this virtually will be a forum for ordinary men and women to ventilate their grievances against such corporate bodies. In the changing economic scenario of the country where insurance, communication and other services are thrown open to corporate giants, it is all the more necessary to provide for costeffective and delay-free tools for resolution of disputes. PLA is a structured clubbing conciliatory mode with certain features of arbitration to arrive at decisions under given circumstances. There is sharp criticism against this machinery both in its constitution and its functioning especially from lawyers. The main opposition against the amendment is based on the following viz. (1) With regard to the constitution of PLA; (2) insofar as PLA is given the power to decide a dispute unlike the ordinary Lok Adalats (LA) envisaged as per Section 19 of the Act which only conciliates the dispute; and (3) Absence of provision for appeal against the decision of PLA. It is submitted that there is no basis for these criticisms. As the Government is nominating the members, there may be political consideration in their appointment, it is said. It is true that the members of PLA shall be nominated by

the respective Governments. But such nomination shall be, in terms of Section 22B(2)(b) of the Act, on recommendation by the Legal Services Authority concerned. After such nomination, they have to be appointed by the Legal Services Authority concerned. So there is no chance for the Government's nominee getting appointed. There is a Central Authority called the "National Legal Services Authority". Its patron is the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India. Its Executive Chairman is the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court of India. Two among the members are two Chairmen of the State Legal Services Authorities who are invariably sitting Judges of the High Courts concerned. Another member is the Secretary of the Department of Legal Affairs and there is a Member Secretary who is a District Judge. Apart from that, there are members like the Secretary, Department of Expenditure, and members appointed by the Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. Those persons shall be eminent persons in the field of law or persons of repute in the legal services schemes or eminent social workers. So far as the State Legal Services Authorities are concerned, it is headed by a Patron-in-Chief who is none other than the Hon'ble Chief Justice of the High Court. In almost all the State Authorities, except perhaps one or two, a sitting Judge of the High Court functions as the Executive Chairman. A District Judge functions as the Member Secretary. So far as Kerala is concerned, the other members are the Registrar of the High Court, the Advocate-General, the Director General of Prosecutions, the Chairman of the Bar Council of Kerala, President of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association, the Law Secretary, the Finance Secretary, Director of Health Services, Director General of Police, Chairman, Kerala State Women's Commission and persons having special knowledge and practical experience in social service etc. Other State Authorities also have similar constitution. It is these authorities with such eminent personalities which shall recommend the names of the members of PLA. It is a body consisting of the Chief Justice of the High Court and a sitting Judge who is the Executive Chairman of the State Authority, which consists of eminent persons in the legal field that recommends such members. Members so recommended shall have to be nominated by the Government. The members so nominated shall have to be appointed by the authority concerned as members of PLA. It cannot be taken that the members so recommended by the authority shall be on political consideration or incompetent to function as members of PLA. It cannot be taken that a body consisting of the Chief Justice and a sitting Judge or retired Judge and other persons with the status of a District Judge and Advocate-General, Chairman of Bar Council etc. will recommend incompetent persons to be members of PLA. These respectable persons, it is

hoped, will always recommend only competent persons. It cannot be presupposed that these respectable bodies consisting of very eminent persons will recommend incompetent incumbents. There is criticism that the persons so appointed will not have legal background. Presently, the specialized tribunals are appointed with the representatives of social organizations or experts. In the case of machineries set up to try disputes raised by consumers, members other than Chairman are persons without legal background. Even in administrative tribunals, persons without legal background, but only with administrative experience are appointed as members. Along with persons with judicial background experts or experienced persons without legal background are also appointed in other alternative dispute redressal forums. The second criticism is with regard to the functioning of PLA insofar as it is given the power to decide a dispute when the parties do not agree for a settlement. While deciding the dispute, it is made clear that the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act will not have application. In other words, the determination or decisions will be in a summary manner. As already mentioned above, PLA is given ample power in the matter of reception of evidence, examination of witnesses etc. the power that a civil court has. A decision is possible only in those cases where in the opinion of the Permanent Lok Adalat "there exist elements of settlement". In such cases, PLA formulates the terms of a possible settlement and gives such terms to the parties concerned for their observations. These observations will be considered on the basis of evidence produced by the parties. If they do not come to a settlement, PLA shall decide the dispute. That means, PLA is not given the power to decide every dispute coming before it. Only those disputes where there exist elements of settlement can be decided by the Permanent Lok Adalat. The decision or the opinion of the Permanent Lok Adalat as to whether there exist elements of settlement is also a matter which can be subjected to judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, there shall be a check in that respect as well. It is further ensured in the Act that while deciding the dispute on merit, PLA shall be guided by the "principles of natural justice, objectivity, fair play, equity and other principles of justice". Thus, a fair procedure is always envisaged. Therefore, there is no reason for any criticism on the power granted to PLA to decide the dispute in the event of a settlement not being arrived at despite the existence of an element of settlement. It cannot be said that there is no appeal against the decision of PLA. So far as the ordinary Lok Adalats (LA) are concerned which is in existence even prior to the amendment and is still being continued no appeal will lie against an award of that

Lok Adalat. The ordinary LA adopts only a conciliatory method and does not decide a dispute. Therefore, disputes are settled on consent of the parties. When a dispute is settled based on consent, no appeal need lie from any such order or award even if there is a settlement in court. Under the civil procedure law also no appeal shall lie from a decree passed on consent of the parties. This is the reason the Act declares that "no appeal shall lie to any court against the award" of ordinary Lok Adalat (LA) envisaged in Chapter VI of the Act. But the award of Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA) envisaged in the newly introduced Chapter VI-A is different. If it is an award upon consent of parties and is as a result of compromise, necessarily, nobody will think of an appeal. When there is a decision by PLA, as the parties did not agree for a compromise, it is possible that the aggrieved party may think of an appeal. Every award of the Permanent Lok Adalat, whether it is based on consent of the parties, or on compromise or upon the decision, "shall be deemed to be a decree of a civil court". Thus the decision taken by PLA will have all the attributes of a decree of a civil court. It will be taken and considered in all respects, as a decree of a civil court. Every decree, unless it is appealed against and so long as it is allowed to continue, will be final and binding on the parties. Same is the case of an award of PLA. It is true that there is no provision for appeal. But appeal is not expressly excluded, in the case of award of PLAs. It is not stated anywhere in the Act that an award of a PLA shall not be called in question in any appeal, as is done in the case of the award of an ordinary Lok Adalat (LA) in Section 21(2) of the Act. Certainly, appeal will lie only if it is provided somewhere by law. Otherwise, one cannot file an appeal. It seems that the provision of Section 96(1) CPC could be relied on to establish that an appeal is not excluded. As already mentioned above, the award of PLA has all the attributes of a civil court decree and it is deemed as a decree of a civil court. Section 96(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides: Save where otherwise expressly provided in the body of this Code or by any other law for the time being in force, an appeal shall lie from every decree passed by any court exercising original jurisdiction to the court authorized to hear appeals from the decisions of such court." When the award of PLA is treated as a decree of civil court and as it is not otherwise provided in the Legal Services Authorities Act that no appeal shall lie from such award, necessarily, that being deemed a civil court decree, an appeal shall lie from that decree. An award of PLA shall be executed by a civil court "having local jurisdiction" depending upon the amount of the decree. Necessarily, an appeal shall also lie to a court depending upon the quantum of the amount involved in the decree or to the

High Court being a decision of a body consisting of three persons of which a District Judge or a retired District Judge is the Chairman. So there is possibility for a judicial review in an appeal. In the case of the awards of ordinary Lok Adalat (LA), the statute specifically provides that it shall not be challenged in an appeal. But the very same legislature did not legislate such a provision when it dealt with the award of PLA. The manifest difference in the provisions relating to the awards of PLA and LA is not accidental. The difference really means that an appeal is possible against an award of PLA in terms of Section 96(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, when it is not specifically barred by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and as the award has all the attributes of a decree of a civil court. Even otherwise, the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India cannot be ruled out, being one among the basic features of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the criticism that the award of PLA cannot be called in question in a higher forum has no force. Moreover, PLA is a machinery to settle or decide disputes relating to public utility services. In the changing economic scenario, the establishments rendering public utility services, enumerated in the Act might be run by corporate sectors. Common people may have claims against these corporates. If they are given a speedy and inexpensive remedy to resolve their grievances, it should be welcomed. Lawyers can very well apprise the client of the demerits, if any, of the machinery of PLA. In spite of that, if the party is inclined to resort to the cheaper remedy, it cannot be said that the legislation is anti-litigant, as there is no compulsion that one shall first approach PLA before approaching a court of law. Of course, as already mentioned, the party other than the claimant also can raise the dispute before PLA and it is likely that PLA may render a decision, if no settlement is arrived at, in spite of the existence of elements of settlement. Thus an award may come against a person who really did not desire to avail of this remedy in respect of his claims. In such circumstances, he can either resort to an appeal, or at any rate, to proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It cannot be argued that the members of PLA will be biased in their decision and that they may even defeat the decision of the Chairman by forming a majority on extraneous considerations. Even if it happens so in a rare situation, certainly it can be corrected either in a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution of India or in an appeal as mentioned above. There shall be some definite qualifications for the other members of PLA. Presently what is required is that they shall have "adequate experience in public utility service". This is too vague a phraseology. It is always advisable to spell out

definite qualifications, so that the litigants will have confidence that the persons deciding their disputes are sufficiently qualified and able. As already mentioned above, it is possible, if somebody raises a claim against public utility services, the latter can bring that dispute before PLA. PLA may take some time to render a decision. In case no compromise is arrived at, and if the case involves no element of settlement what will happen, if in the meantime the period of limitation is over, so far as the claimant party is concerned Can it be taken that he has been "prosecuting with due diligence in civil proceedings" in a court, because, so far as PLA is concerned, he was not the party initiating the dispute. The Lok Adalat is not treated as a court, but only vested with certain powers of a civil court or shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purpose of Section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. These aspects require consideration.

2. Scope For Judicial Review - A Critical Study
Objective of Lok Adalat is to settle the disputes which are pending before the courts, by negotiations, conciliation and by adopting persuasive commonsense and humane approach to the problems of the disputants. The large populations of India and the illiterate masses have found the regular dispensation of justice through regular courts very cumbersome and ineffective. The special conditions prevailing in the Indian society and due to the economic structure, highly sensitized legal service is required which is efficacious for the poor and ignorant masses. The Lok Adalat movement is no more an experiment in India. It is now a success and but needs to be replicated in certain matters. In this chapter the researchers have tried to arrive at whether there is any need for a judicial review in the current status and scenario of Lok Adalats with the necessary critical study over the matter with possible solutions and suggestions as and when needed.

As aforesaid in the objective of the Lok Adalats, the intention of the legislator has been to put an end to the disputes summarily and reduce the burden of the courts. Therefore, the Lok Adalats decide the matters on a consent/ compromise basis. The Lok Adalat passes the award after the parties have agreed on the settlement and have given consent over it. The Lok Adalat will passes the award with the consent of the parties, therefore there is no need either to reconsider or review the matter again and again, as the award passed by the Lok Adalat shall be final. Even as under Section 96 of C.P.C. that "no appeal shall lie from a decree passed by the Court with the consent of the parties". The award of the Lok Adalat is an order by the Lok Adalat under the consent of the parties, and it shall be deemed to be a decree of the Civil Court, therefore an appeal shall not lie from the award of the Lok Adalat as under Section 96 C.P.C. In Punjab National Bank v. Lakshmichand Rai the High Court held that "The provisions of the Act shall prevail in the matter of filing an appeal and an appeal would not lie under the provisions of Section 96 C.P.C. Lok Adalat is conducted under an independent enactment and once the award is made by Lok Adalat the right of appeal shall be governed by the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act when it has been specifically barred under Provisions of Section 21(2), no appeal can be filed against the award under Section 96 C.P.C." The Court further stated that "It may incidentally be further seen that even the Code of Civil Procedure does not provide for an appeal under Section 96 against a consent decree. The Code of Civil Procedure also intends that once a consent decree is passed by Civil Court finality is attached to it. Such finality cannot be permitted to be destroyed, particularly under the Legal Services Authorities Act, as it would amount to defeat the very aim and object of the Act with which it has been enacted; hence, we hold that the appeal filed is not maintainable. The High Court of Andhra Pradesh held that, in Board of Trustees of the Port of Visakhapatnam v. Presiding Officer, Permanent, Lok Adalat-c` The award is enforceable as a decree and it is final. The endeavor is only to see that the disputes are narrowed down and make the final settlement so that the parties are not again driven to further litigation or any dispute. Though the award of a Lok Adalat is not a result of a contest on merits just as a regular suit by a Court on a regular suit by a Court on a regular trial, however, it is as equal and on par with a decree on compromise and will have the same binding effect and conclusive just as the decree passed on the compromises cannot be challenged in a regular appeal. "The truth is, a judgment by consent is intended to put a stop to litigation between the parties just as much as is a judgment which results from the decision of the

Court after the matter has been fought out to the end. And I think it would be very mischievous if one were not to give a fair and reasonable interpretation to such judgments, and were to allow questions that were really involved in the action to be fought over again in a subsequent action." To the like effect are the following observations of the Judicial Committee in 'Kinch v. Walvott', :"First of all their Lordships are clear that in relation to this plea of estoppel it is of no advantage to the appellant that the order in the libel action which is said to raise it was consent order. For such a purpose and order by consent, not discharged by mutual agreement, and remaining unreduced, is as effective as an order of the Court made otherwise than by consent and not discharged on appeal." On this authority it becomes absolutely clear that the consent order is as effective as an order passed on contest, not only with reference to the conclusion arrived at in the previous suit but also with regard to every step in the process of reasoning on which the said conclusion is founded. When we say "every step in the reasoning" we mean the findings on the essential facts on which the judgment or the ultimate conclusion was founded. In other words the finding which it was necessary to arrive at for the purpose of sustaining the judgment in the particular case will operate as estoppel by judgment. In all the above judgments, it has clearly been laid down that, a matter of consent decree need not go on an appeal. However, the power of judicial review in a given case is implicit under the Constitution unless expressly excluded by a provision of the Constitution. This power is available to correct any order passed by a statutory authority which is violative of any of the provisions of the statute. The Lok Adalat is a creation of statute and gets jurisdiction from it and hence this Court is competent to go into an order passed by it, to decide whether the order in question is valid in law. The writ jurisdiction of the High Court cannot be circumscribed by provisions of any enactment as is to be found in Section 21 of the Act and it can always exercise its jurisdiction if an order, left alone, would amount to abrogating the rule of law. The question of appeal and judicial review in the case of a PLA is however different. It cannot be said that there is no appeal against the decision of PLA. So far as the ordinary Lok Adalats (LA) are concerned which is in existence even prior to the amendment and is still being continued no appeal will lie against an award of that Lok Adalat. The ordinary LA adopts only a conciliatory method and does not decide a dispute. Therefore, disputes are settled on consent of the parties. When a dispute is settled based on consent, no appeal need lie from any such

order or award even if there is a settlement in court. Under the civil procedure law also no appeal shall lie from a decree passed on consent of the parties. This is the reason the Act declares that "no appeal shall lie to any court against the award" of ordinary Lok Adalat (LA) envisaged in Chapter VI of the Act. But the award of Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA) envisaged in the newly introduced Chapter VI-A is different. If it is an award upon consent of parties and is as a result of compromise, necessarily, nobody will think of an appeal. When there is a decision by PLA, as the parties did not agree for a compromise, it is possible that the aggrieved party may think of an appeal. Every award of the Permanent Lok Adalat, whether it is based on consent of the parties, or on compromise or upon the decision, "shall be deemed to be a decree of a civil court". Thus the decision taken by PLA will have all the attributes of a decree of a civil court. It will be taken and considered in all respects, as a decree of a civil court. Every decree, unless it is appealed against and so long as it is allowed to continue, will be final and binding on the parties. Same is the case of an award of PLA. It is true that there is no provision for appeal. But appeal is not expressly excluded, in the case of award of PLAs. It is not stated anywhere in the Act that an award of a PLA shall not be called in question in any appeal, as is done in the case of the award of an ordinary Lok Adalat (LA) in Section 21(2) of the Act. Certainly, appeal will lie only if it is provided somewhere by law. Otherwise, one cannot file an appeal. It seems that the provision of Section 96(1) CPC could be relied on to establish that an appeal is not excluded. As already mentioned above, the award of PLA has all the attributes of a civil court decree and it is deemed as a decree of a civil court. Section 96(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides: Save where otherwise expressly provided in the body of this Code or by any other law for the time being in force, an appeal shall lie from every decree passed by any court exercising original jurisdiction to the court authorized to hear appeals from the decisions of such court. When the award of PLA is treated as a decree of civil court and as it is not otherwise provided in the Legal Services Authorities Act that no appeal shall lie from such award, necessarily, that being deemed a civil court decree, an appeal shall lie from that decree. An award of PLA shall be executed by a civil court "having local jurisdiction" depending upon the amount of the decree. Necessarily, an appeal shall also lie to a court depending upon the quantum of the amount involved in the decree or to the High Court being a decision of a body consisting of three persons of which a District Judge or a retired District Judge is the Chairman. So there is possibility for a judicial review in an appeal.

In the case of the awards of ordinary Lok Adalat (LA), the statute the very same legislature did not legislate such a provision when it dealt with the award of PLA. The manifest difference in the provisions relating to the awards of PLA and LA is not accidental. The difference really means that an appeal is possible against an award of PLA in terms of Section 96(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, when it is not specifically barred by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and as the award has all the attributes of a decree of a civil court. Even otherwise, the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India cannot be ruled out, being one among the basic features of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the criticism that the award of PLA cannot be called in question in a higher forum has no force. The question of appeal in case of Lok Adalat and Permanent Lok Adalat is therefore clear. The whole intention of the legislator has been to provide for a finality of the proceedings since the matters were to be settled on a compromise basis. There is always the scope to go for a writ petition to challenge the award in case of any grave illegality. The probability of fraud, misrepresentation, force etc. while arriving at the consent or compromise cannot be ruled out. There is again a chance that the one of the parties may not be in a position to understand the nature of the legality of the proceedings and an award has been passed due to the sheer negligence of the judge. The likelihood of such events cannot be ruled out. In Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhan v. State of Gujarat, it was held that; the duty of the Court is to confine itself to the question of legality. Its concern should be, whether the decisionmaking authority exceeded its powers; committed an error of law; committed a breach of the rules of natural justice; reached a decision which no reasonable Tribunal would have reached; or abused its powers. In the case on hand the Lok Adalat exceeded its powers, committed an error of law, committed breach of the rules of natural justice and abused its powers. Even if this Court were to strictly confine itself to the question of legality, the impugned order cannot still be tolerated as it suffers from all the foibles that justify interference under Article 226 of the Constitution. The Karnataka State Bar Council was opposed to the section in the Act which said if one party approached the permanent Lok Adalat; the other party had no option but to participate in the litigation. This was opposed to the canons of justice, the lawyers said. "The right of judicial review or appeal is fundamental in all legal matters and making the decision of the permanent Lok Adalats final, without the right of appeal, will vest unrestricted power in the hands of a tribunal in which

two non-officials can dominate... it will impair the administration of justice,'' they said. In Election Commission of India v. Union of India and Ors., the Apex Court while dealing with the powers of the Court under the Constitution to interfere with an order passed by the Election Commission, laid down: "There are no unreviewable discretions under the constitutional dispensation. The overall constitutional function to ensure that constitutional authorities function within the sphere of their respective constitutional authority is that of the Courts". The enunciation by the Apex Court making even an order by a constitutional authority reviewable should leave no doubt in any one's mind that a discretion exercised by a statutory authority would be well-within the reviewable discretion of this Court. N. L. Rajag, President of Consumer Courts, Bar Association also pointed out that Permanent Lok Adalats do perform and can perform invaluable service as conciliators or mediators. But then to tell parties that even if they do not agree to settle the matter the Lok Adalat would go ahead and pass a decree which will then be binding on them, is horrendously arbitrary and unreasonable. But one tends to forget the forum of judicial review is always open for the parties through the writ petitions. This is a basic feature of the Constitution and cannot be ruled out. Denial of it would be unfair and unwarranted. The ultimate result would be that all these matters will come knocking at the doors of the High Court, thus suffocating an already overloaded High Court.

9. Applicability and Enforcement of Law:
Camps of Lok Adalat were started initially in Gujarat in March 1982 and now it has been extended throughout the Country. The evolution of this movement was a part of the strategy to relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases. The reason to create such camps were only the pending cases and to give relief to the litigants who were in a queue to get justice. Seekers of justice are in millions and it is becoming rather difficult for the Courts to cope up with the ever-increasing cases with the present infrastructure and manpower. Courts are clogged with cases. There is serious problem of overcrowding of dockets. Because of the ever-increasing number of cases the Court system is under great pressure. Therefore, if there was at the threshold a permanent mechanism or machinery to settle the matters at a pre-trial stage, many matters would not find their way to the Courts. Similarly, if there are permanent forums to which Courts may refer cases, the load of cases could be taken off the Courts. In order to reduce the heavy demand on Court time, cases must be resolved by resorting to 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' Methods before they enter the portals of Court. Here comes the significance of Lok Adalat which has showed its significance by settling huge number of Third Party claims referred by Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT). Except matters relating to offences, which are not compoundable, a Lok Adalat has jurisdiction to deal with all matters. Matters pending or at pre-trial stage, provided a reference is made to it by a court or by the concerned authority or committee, when the dispute is at a pretrial stage and not before a Court of Law it can be referred to Lok Adalat. Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, and one of the aims for the enactment of this Act was to organize Lok Adalat to secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice on the basis of an equal opportunity. The Act gives statutory recognition to the resolution of disputes by compromise and settlement by the Lok Adalats. The concept has been gathered from system of Panchayats, which has roots in the history, and culture of this Country. It has a native flavor known to the people. The provisions of the Act based on indigenous concept are meant to supplement the Court system. They will go a long way in resolving the disputes at almost no cost to the litigants and with minimum delay. At the same time, the Act is not meant to replace and supplants the Court system.

The Act is a legislative attempt to decongest the Courts from heavy burden of cases. There is a need for decentralization of justice. Since April 1985, Lok Adalats have been exclusively organized for settlement of motor third party claims. Although the concept of Lok Adalat is very much in vogue since early years. This form was made available for settlement of Motor Third Party claims under the initiative of former Chief Justice of India, Shri P. N. Bhagwati, since then number of Lok Adalats have been organized throughout the Country through this forum to the satisfaction of the claimants. It is expected to gather further momentum for settlement of these claims through this medium as both claimants do and the Insurance Company get benefit out of it. That is the reason why Insurance Companies are interested in settling Third Party claims by Lok Adalats. The increase in cases in Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT) and backlog of pending cases pressed the insurer and the judicial system to think about the quick disposal oriented system like Lok Adalat/Conciliatory forums should be utilized to optimum level. Lok Adalat now is playing sole role in solving disputes and settling MACT cases. It has become a Dispute Management Institution. It is an informal system of dispute resolution. This is the expeditious method to settle large number of MACT claims. It is the best provisions by the effort of judiciary. Disposal through Lok Adalat is the only panacea for controlling the arrears of cases. Insurance Company can save additional interest. This is the simplest method, which is devoid of procedural wrangles of regular trial. According to Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act 1994 effective from 09-11-1995 has since been passed, Lok Adalat settlement is no longer a voluntary concept. By this Act Lok Adalat has got statutory character and has been legally recognized. Certain salient features of the Act are enumerated below: Section 19 1 Central, State, District and Taluka legal Services Authority has been created who are responsible for organizing Lok Adalats at such intervals and place. 2 Conciliators for Lok Adalat comprise the following: A. A sitting or retired judicial officer. B. Other persons of repute as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court. Section 20: Reference of Cases Cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat as under: 1 By consent of both the parties to the disputes. 2 One of the parties makes an application for reference. 3 Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat.

4 Compromise settlements shall be guided by the principles of justice, equity, fair play and other legal principles. 5 Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation, the matter shall be returned to the concerned court for disposal in accordance with Law. Section 21 After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties, award is passed by the conciliators. The matter need not be referred to the concerned Court for consent decree. The Act provisions envisages as under: 1 Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed as decree of Civil Court. 2 Every award made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute. 3 No appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat. Section 22 Every proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings for the purpose of 1. Summoning of Witnesses. 2. Discovery of documents. 3. Reception of evidences. 4. Requisitioning of Public record. Hon’ble Delhi High Court has given a landmark decision highlighting the significance of Lok Adalat movement. It has far reaching ramifications. Landmark Decision of Hon’ble Delhi High Court AIR 1999 Delhi Page-88 Abdul Hasan and National Legal Services Authority-Petitioner Vs. Delhi Vidyut Board and others-Respondents. Facts of the Case - The petitioner filed a writ petition before Delhi High Court for restoration of electricity at his premises, which was disconnected by the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) on account of non-payment of Bill. Interalia, the grievances of the citizens were not only confined to the DVB but also directed against the State agencies like DDA, Municipal Corporation, MTNL, GIC and other bodies, Court notices were directed to be issued to NALSA and Delhi State Legal Service Authority. Judgment Held- His lordship Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anil Dev Singh passed the order giving directions for setting up of permanent Lok Adalats. The scholarly observations of His Lordship Mr. Justice Anil Dev Singh deserve special commendations and are worthy of note. It will be profitable to reproduce the important text and abstract from this judgment, which should be an eye opener for all of us. It should also steer the conscience of all, as there is an increasing

need to make Lok Adalat movement a permanent feature. Article 39 A of the Constitution of India provides for equal justice and free legal aid. It is, therefore clear that the State has been ordained to secure a legal system, which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity. The language of Article-39 A is couched in mandatory terms. This is made more than clear by the use of the twice-occurring word “shall” in Art-39 A. It is emphasized that the legal system should be able to deliver justice expeditiously on the basis of equal opportunity and provide free legal aid to secure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizens by reasons of economic or other disabilities. It was in this context that the parliament enacted the Legal Services Authority Act-1987. The need of the hour is frantically beckoning for setting up Lok-Adalats on permanent and continuous basis. What we do today will shape our tomorrow. Lok Adalat is between an ever-burdened Court System crushing the choice under its own weight and alternative dispute resolution machinery including an inexpensive and quick dispensation of justice. The Lok Adalat and alternative dispute resolution experiment must succeed otherwise the consequence for an over burdened court system would be disastrous. The system needs to inhale the life giving oxygen of justice through the note. If we closely scrutinize the contents of the decision of Delhi High Court, there has been an alarming situation of docket-explosion and the ultimately remedy is the disposal of cases through the mechanism of Lok Adalat.

10. CRITICAL ANALYSIS of Lok Adalats:
The system of Lok Adalat is not without limitations. Conflicting views have been expressed on the advisability of the new institution of Lok Adalats. They are meant to supplement the judicial process and not to supplant it. Also it is being said that when conciliation becomes the norm, people’s attitude to resort to court will change. On the other hand, it is being suggested that with the giving of statutory basis, the informality of Lok Adalat will disappear and every technicality that bogs down regular courts will creep into the Lok Adalats and a parallel court system under a different label may emerge. The permanent Lok Adalats are conciliation-cum-arbitration tribunals to settle disputes between selected public utility service and individuals. It appears that recourse to these tribunals in preference to civil court is unlikely. Public utility services would rather compel the private parties to have recourse to legal redress instead of, they themselves seeking it and private parties likely to prefer civil courts, to these new institutions. In consequences, these new institutions might be of very little use in reducing the burden of courts. There are many other loopholes which are discussed below:

(1) Adjudication before a Lok Adalat is by consent, if one party does not agree, the case goes back to the court. If there is no consent, there is no decision;

(2) The procedure of Lok Adalat - organizing, conducting and awarding of Lok Adalat is becoming rigid especially after the enforcement of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987;

(3) The anxiety of the litigants to settle their disputes without the vexation of court litigations exploited by the opposite parties and even by some lawyers. The person who claims the compensation would have been exhausted by the years of litigation. It might be easy to make him agree to the payment of ‘contingency fee’ to his lawyer and to accept an amount which is much lower then his due. After the settlement, the lawyers may take a major chunk of the amount as ‘contingency fee’. Although taking contingency fee is prohibited in our country, it is being practiced by some lawyers. They must realize that what they do is for the cause of social justice and avoid exploiting the poor people;

(4) The goal of the Lok Adalat is to affect a compromise but in mass scale disposal of cases in Lok Adalats, it is difficult to expect that compromise settlements of mutual benefits would be searched for;

(5) The legislation has given the judiciary an almost exclusive role in organizing Lok Adalat and directed the observance of norms the judiciary adhere to in adjudication. There is little role for people especially trained in negotiation, mediation and conciliation;

(6) In the name of the speedy resolution of the disputes the fair interests of the parties are sacrificed. The case of Manju Gupta vs. National Insurance Company, demonstrates the sad state of compromises and settlements in Lok Adalats denying the fair minimum claims of the petitioners. The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 emphasis on speedy resolution of the claim but due to inordinate delay the claimants settle at the lowest compensation with the insurance companies; and

(7) A major drawback of Lok Adalats is that its emphasis is on a compromise or settlement between the parties. If the parties do not arrive at any compromise,

either the case is returned to the court of law or the parties are advised to seek remedy in a court of law.

So these are the loopholes which have to be looked for proper functioning of this system as a hole.

11. CONCLUSION

AND SUGGESTIONS:

India has to be a venue for international arbitrations. New trends in litigation, such as those related to intellectual property rights, cyber crimes, environment, money laundering, competition, telecom, taxation, international arbitration and so on need expertise. This could be possible only by providing proper training to the judges of Lok Adalat. Establishing separate, permanent and continuous Lok Adalats for government departments, statutory authorities and public sector undertakings for disposal of pending cases as well as disputes at pre-litigation stage, which is not yet done. Though this measure is thought to been taken up by the NALSA in the year 1998 but yet not implemented. So the same must be brought into picture as soon as possible. More over, there has to be more creation of awareness to Legal Aid Schemes and programmes under it. Lok Adalats are certainly a big boon to the present judicial system. However lots of work needs to be done in this sphere. More discipline must be brought into the present system. For instance, since December 2005, over 2000 applications have been filed with the Lok Adalat of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Less than 100 cases have been disposed off till date. The claims filed with the Lok Adalats pertain to inadequate compensation for loss of crop, land, livestock, boats and ancillary equipment, life, disability and small-scale businesses. Also the relief packages are being interpreted contrary to the spirit of the law, depriving most poor people of basic means of sustenance to restore their livelihood17. Also the ambit of the Lok Adalat must be widened for speedier disposal of more cases. I am also of the view that the provision of consent must be done away with if the matter is a perfect case to be referred to the Lok Adalat. Such a step will bring in more disputes to the Lok Adalat for the speedy disposal of the matter. Finally, the awards of the Lok Adalats must be given precedent value for similar disputes brought forward in the Lok Adalats. It is because the awards given by the Lok Adalats are final and in nature as no appeal may be preferred against such an award. Therefore, it is humbly submitted that if such steps are taken by the eminent lawmakers of our country then I sincerely feel that it would drastically bring down the number of pending cases in our country and would provide speedy justice to everyone as ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

12.Bibliography:
For this project on ‘Efficiency of Lok Adalats’ I have used a numerous amount of resources ranging from books to websites and even personal interviews. So, now I will enumerate the resources used by me.

Websites used:
1. Scope for judicial settlement:

www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/lok_a.htm
2. Lok Adalats concept: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lok_Adalat 3. Lok Adalats for speedy justice:

www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/.../2001121800060100.htm
4. Lok Adalats for consumers:

www.consumergrievance.com/icrpc.org.lokadalat.htm
5. Lok Adalats for labourers cause:

labourandemployment.gov.in/labcom/statistics/lok-adalat.htm

Publications , books and journals used:
1. Agarwhal, A.K. “Role of Alternative Dispute resolution methods in

development of society: ‘Lok Adalat’ in India” W.P. No.2005-11-01, IIM. 2. The Legal Service Authorities Act (1987). 3. Iyer, Krishna. Legal Services Authorities Act: A Critique. Madhurai: Society for Community Organization Trust, 1988. 4. Lok Adalat: An Effective Dispute Resolution Mechanism – Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan. 5. Legal Aid to the Poor: The Law and Indian Legal System – Shyam Sunder Sharma. 6. Different newspapers: Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu, etc…

These are all the material which I used for my research project including a case study done at Metropolitan Court Ahmedabad. Thank you.

13.Appendix:
1. Weekly Reports:
Nirma University of Science & Technology Institute of law Summer Placement Training (2009-10) Weekly Report-1 II Semester of B.A. LLB (Hons)
Roll NO.:09BAL102 Duration of the report: 2nd to 7th MARCH’10

1. Name of the Student: ALOK RATNOO 2. Name of the NGO: RESEARCH FOUNDATION FOR GOVERNANCE-INDIA (R.F.G.I.) 3. Address of the place of internship: 3, Brahmin Mitra Mandal Society, Mangaldas Road, Ellis bridge, Ahmedabad – 380006, Gujarat, India. 4. Name & designation of the Supervising & Guiding Officer: Ms. Kanan Dhru Founder & Managing Director- R.F.G.I. 5. Topic/ area of the project: Efficiency Of Lok Adalats 6. Activities done during the week 1. Started collecting all the basic information about Lok Adalats from books and net. 2. Collection of empirical data on the working of Lok Adalats. 3. Visited the State Legal Service Authority at Gujarat High Court to get more information about Lok Adalats being held at the state level. 4. Visited City Metropolitan Court at Mirzapur and observed the proceedings of the Lok Adalats held there.

5. Interviewed Metropolitan Magistrate Mr. D. I. Patel , some lawyers and some litigants about this setup and there views about Lok Adalats 6. Getting through the history, working of the N.G.O (R. F. G. I) and the activities they use to do. 7. Got involved in the organizational tasks of a public debate being organized by the R.F.G.I on ”Inner Party Democracy” and went to Gujarat state assembly in this regard to invite senior leaders to the event and met Mr. Narendra Modi – present C.M. of Gujarat from B.J.P and opposition leader Mr. Shakti Singh Gohil from Congress.

7. Your observation during the week • The legal aid authorities at high court are very helpful and avails for every information (relevant) about there activities and ask for more student participation to increase awareness about dispute resolution mechanism among people and henceforth reducing the burden of cases on courts. • People are know opting more for this alternate dispute resolution mechanism as it is time-saving, cost efficient, and a method of reaching to a solution by themselves. • Most lawyers are in favor of this Lok Adalat system, but some do not have likeness for this system. • Will need to attend one more Lok Adalat to have a clear mind-set about the working efficiency of this system, and the way the cases are disposed-off. • R.F.G.I is fully dedicated to its cause to evolve a legal thought on the “good governance” by involving youth from all spheres. 8 New things you learnt during the week • Working of State Legal Service Authority at Gujarat High Court. • Working of Lok Adalats and dedication of judges in this regard. • Working of Gujarat state assembly. • Organizing an event like public debate by the N.G.O. • Interviewing various people for my project and for the event of my N.G.O (R.F.G.I) on “Inner Party Democracy”. • Short-movie making.

9 Remarks of Supervising Officer: (Kindly give rating from 0 to 5. Also can make specific remarks (if any). Punctuality Regularity Sincerity Output of the work assigned Overall

Date: 8th march, 2010

Signature of the student _________________________ Name & Signature of Guiding & Supervising officer

Nirma University of Science & Technology Institute of law Summer Placement Training (2009-10) Weekly Report-2 II Semester of B.A. LLB (Hons)
Roll NO.:09BAL102 Duration of the report:8th to 14th MARCH’10

1. Name of the Student: ALOK RATNOO
2. Name of the NGO: RESEARCH FOUNDATION FOR GOVERNANCE-INDIA

(R.F.G.I.)
3. Address of the place of internship: 3, Brahmin Mitra Mandal Society,

Mangaldas Road, Ellis bridge, Ahmedabad – 380006, Gujarat, India. 4. Name & designation of the Supervising & Guiding Officer: Ms. Kanan Dhru Founder & Managing Director- R.F.G.I. 5. Topic/ area of the project: Efficiency Of Lok Adalats 6. Activities done during the week 1. Comprehensive study of all the collected data on Lok Adalats. 2. Interviewed Mr. M. N. Priyadarshi – Labour Officer, on the cases held in Lok Adalats by the labourers and the labour department and his general views on the topic of Lok Adalats. 3. As an organizer on behalf of R.F.G.I., we conducted a public discussion on Women Reservation Bill at Zen Café, CEPT University. The event was covered by Ahmedabad Mirror.

4. As a delegate from R.F.G.I, I attended a meeting at Justice T. U. Mehta’s residence, former chief justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, on the issue of transparency of the judicial system and the R.T.I. issue about judge’s declaration of property. A panel was formed for deciding the further course of action on the above said matter. The panel included our NGO’s director Miss Kanan Dhru. The entire meeting was covered by Indian Express, Ahmedabad Mirror and DNA. 5. Your observation during the week • Various kinds of labourers and industrial worker related issues can be easily solved with Lok Adalats. It is also a cheap medium to get justice to these people. • Women reservation bill debate is becoming a very complicated issue in the present scenario. Women were less participatory at the public discussion. But majority of people out of 50 present at the discussion voted in the favor of the bill. • Former judges and judicial luminaries are very much active in the judicial decisions and about the transparency in the judiciary. • R.F.G.I is fully dedicated to its cause to evolve a legal thought on the “good governance” by involving youth from all spheres. 8 New things you learnt during the week • Practical working of Lok Adalats and problems faced by the laborers and industrial workers. • Organizing public discussions and controlling public debates. • Research activities. Etc……

9 Remarks of Supervising Officer: (Kindly give rating from 0 to 5. Also can make specific remarks (if any). Punctuality Regularity Sincerity Output of the work assigned Overall

Date: 14th march, 2010 Signature of the student _________________________ Name & Signature of Guiding & Supervising officer

Nirma University of Science & Technology Institute of law Summer Placement Training (2009-10) Weekly Report-3 II Semester of B.A. LLB (Hons)
Roll NO.:09BAL102 Duration of the report:15th to 21st MARCH’10

1. Name of the Student: ALOK RATNOO 2. Name of the NGO: RESEARCH FOUNDATION FOR GOVERNANCE-INDIA

(R.F.G.I.)
3. Address of the place of internship: 3, Brahmin Mitra Mandal Society,

Mangaldas Road, Ellis bridge, Ahmedabad – 380006, Gujarat, India. 4. Name & designation of the Supervising & Guiding Officer: Ms. Kanan Dhru Founder & Managing Director- R.F.G.I. 5. Topic/ area of the project: Efficiency Of Lok Adalats 6. Activities done during the week
1. It was entirely the week of office work. Compilation of the project and further

research on the project by staying at the office of R.F.G.I.
2. Went to attend the short film festival – ‘SHAMIYANA’ at Darpan on the

Thursday evening of 18th of March to attend the screening of R.F.G.I short film by one of the intern. 3. Attended a meeting on Saturday at R.F.G.I’s office regarding the work I have done so far and how I can improve on my further research activities. 4. Follow up with the R.T.I. issue of judges’ appointment and judicial transparency with the panelists and furthermore getting in touch with the different high courts

of other states in regard to all above said and what I have already mentioned in my 2nd weekly report of 14th March. 5. Got all my documents of the period of internships attested from our director of N.G.O. Miss Kanan Dhru. 6. Your observation during the week • How the research work is compiled • Then how the N.G.O’s main office’s different section’s work for e.g. accounting, administration is working etc... • How the actual screening of films takes place and yes!!!a lot of hard work is done by N.G.O’s and Short film makers on bringing the change required in the society. 8 New things you learnt during the week • Compilation of research project. • Inner working of N.G.O. • Efforts taken by short film makers on bringing out the social and legal awareness among the mass.

9 Remarks of Supervising Officer: (Kindly give rating from 0 to 5. Also can make specific remarks (if any). Punctuality Regularity Sincerity Output of the work assigned Overall

Date: 21st March, 2010 Signature of the student _________________________ Name & Signature of Guiding & Supervising officer

2.

Questionnaire and Case study:
This is the case study which I did for my project on ‘Efficiency of Lok Adalats’. It includes the entire case study and the questions I asked regarding the structure of Lok Adalats to the different people and authorities associated with the case. So, here it goes……….

Case study:
Citation: Criminal Miscellaneous Application no: 2005/09, Metropolitan Court no:18 Ahmedabad( Gheekanta court) Applicant- Ritaben Bharat Ahuja Vs. Opponent- Bharat Rellumal Ahuja + 3 Lawyer of applicant: Mr. D. K. Saresa Lawyer of opponent: Mr. R. F. Bhagat Judge in the Lok Adalat’s this case’s proceedings: Metropolitan Magistrate Mr. D. I. Patel Legal issue involved: Domestic violence act-2005 Any other matters filed at any other court of law: criminal miscellaneous application no: 276/2010 at family court no: 5, Ahmedabad. Facts of the case: Both the applicant and the opponent are wife and husband respectively; both the parties are originally from Maharashtra. Ritaben hails from Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra and Bharat Ahuja is from Srirampur from the same state. Both of them got married 4 years before and because of some family feud Ritaben left him about 2 and half years back and came to Ahmedabad and started living with her brother. She had filed case on the ground of domestic violence at the family court in Ahmedabad after which the court summoned Bharat Ahuja to the court of law. The party has a 2 year child of theirs too, who is now with Ritaben. She didn’t want to live with Bharat Ahuja anymore so she had filed an appeal for divorce in the same court. Because of the family’s persuasion both the parties have decided to recall back the appeal of divorce and want to take a middle path and considering the future of their child have turned up to mediation by the court of law as a solution to their problem. Both the parties have their own terms but court is trying hard to satisfy both the parties to drop the case and again turn back to their married life. The case is yet not decided and the next hearing is on 26th of March of 2010. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After watching the case history and the proceedings in the case I had decided to interview both the parties, their lawyers and the judge in the case on their views about Lok Adalat concept as a whole and how much efficient it is proving to be. I had prepared a questionnaire well in advance to get my quarries solved in regard to this concept. All of them answered my questions properly.

Questions from the judge in this case – Mr. D. I. Patel:
1. Was this a typical case? If not, why not? Yes, it was a typical case of domestic violence or say family matters which usually comes under the purview of Lok Adalats. 2. Do you think the issue has been resolved? Do you think the litigants are happy with the outcome? Could not be said. If the issue resolves and both the parties agrees to each others terms and agreements and then an amicable decision comes out of the case then definitely the litigants will be happy. 3. Do you think the lawyers (if they were present) helpful in reaching a compromise, or were they an obstruction? Very few lawyers are not helpful in the fast disposal of the cases but most of the lawyers are very helpful. 4. Do you think this is a proper method to dispose of cases? If the compromises are made by the will of the applicants and opponents only and they reach to the compromise by mutually agreeing to each other then it is definitely a proper method to dispose of the cases. 5. Do you think Lok Adalats have reduced burdens on the regular courts? Yes, Lok Adalats have reduced the burden of the regular courts. Thus these are a very good and efficient method to dispose of the cases.

Question from the Lawyers: Mr. R. F. Bhagat from opponent’s side and Mr. D. K. Saresa from applicant’s side:
1. Do you think the compromise reached benefited your client? If not, why not? The compromise negotiations are going on and we have suggested our client to go for the compromise because to conduct a matter in the court is highly expensive and time wasting. If we do not go for the compromise then we are supposed to be present before the court on each and every date and they (clients) will have to face inconvenience. 2. Do you think the litigants are happy with the outcome? We think that if the compromise is going to take place then it will be beneficial to both the parties because they have to obey the duties towards their children also and for their future. 3. How did the judge reach the compromise? What did you think of the judge’s role? The said matter is still not finalised but the Hon’ble magistrate of court no 18 of

the metropolitan court is a very nice man because by keeping the law in his own mind he is trying to settle the matter on the principle of natural justice and has suggested to go for reconciliation and not to spoil the value and fruitful taste of parties as well as their children. Such type of magistrates are to be found in the rarest of the rare case because without abusing the law provisions he want to settle the matter for the welfare of the society. 4. Are you paid by the hour, or by case, or through some other method? Mr. R. F. Bhagat: I am an advocate practising since last 22 years and I have got a handsome amount for the professional fees in cash and not by any other mean or methods. Mr. D. K. Saresa: I have been practising for the past 12 years and I being paid in cash and that to per hour in a case. 5. Do you think Lok Adalats have reduced burdens on the regular courts? Certainly, we can say that Lok Adalats are mainly established for the welfare of the litigants for their grievances and to provide speedy remedy. We can say that through Lok Adalats the burden of the cases on the courts both superior and lower ones have reduced and because none of the parties are going to refer their cases back to the courts.

Questions for the parties: Applicant and Opponent (both):
1. What motivated you to come to the Lok Adalat? At the time when we have discussed for the compromise in Lok Adalat, we felt that by forgetting and giving anything if any solution comes than it will be good for the cause of the justice. 2. Are you happy with the outcome? Do you think it is fair? We can say that if the solution is going to be found by the way of compromise in Lok Adalat, we believe that the litigation will come to an end without any tension or burden to both of us. 3. How did the judge behave? Was he or she fair in deliberations? We have felt that the Hon’ble magistrate of the court is accommodating us as per our needs, if we are interested to settle the matter and thus the attitude of court towards us is purely monocline. We can say that being a male magistrate, he is acting in both ways, looking from both the sides. 4. How did the lawyers behave? Were they useful in reaching a compromise? Mr. Bharat. R. Ahuja: I am very much pleased with the attitude of my advocate. He is also very cooperative in the settlement of matter by way of compromise. Mrs. Ritaben. B. Ahuja: I am also very happy with the attitude of my lawyer. He for sure will not let happen any injustice to me in the case. And he is also very cooperative and is fully trying to put my cause in front and then letting reconciliation happen. 5. Do you prefer Lok Adalats to the formal courts? If so, why?

We can say that the present method which is going on for Lok Adalats is a better one, if Lok Adalats are going to be settled separately neither party will get the benefit of Lok Adalats. 6. Is this your first time in a Lok Adalat? No, this is not our first time in Lok Adalat, but since last 2 to 3 dates the compromise negotiations are going on and we hope, we will get justification and both of our needs will be satisfied in a just manner.

3. News paper clippings and articles:
1. Related with the topic of the project on ‘Efficiency of Lok Adalats’
1. Ahmedabad Mirror correspondent- Vijay Zala
Posted On Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 02:51:30 AM The metropolitan courts in Ahmedabad have made a dent in pending cases by holding lok adalats on working Saturdays. Launched in Madhya Pradesh, the concept was adopted by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate K B Mehta to push through the 3.5 lakh cases that were pending when he took charge of the post on September 11. Over 3,000 cases have been disposed of since the lok adalats began on October 21.

Mehta said, “Madhya Pradesh holds lok adalats on working Saturdays. We have replicated the system here after receiving permission from the High Court of Gujarat. Lok adalats are held in all 35 courts here. Judges take up cases pertaining to only lok adalat and each adalat disposes of 10-15 cases in one session.” Decentralising justice The pending cases have created great pressure on the judicial system. Lok adalats helps ease this pressure by settling matters at a pre-trial stage, and preventing them from finding a way to court. Lok adalat accepts cases that can be settled by conciliation and compromise. The main condition is that both parties in dispute should agree for settlement. When no compromise is reached, the matter goes back to the court. However, if a compromise is reached, an award is made and is binding on the parties. It is enforced as a decree of a civil court. An important aspect is that the award is final and cannot be appealed, not even under Article 226 because it is a judgement by consent. Mediation not litigation A panel of four advocates — former vice-president of bar association Bharat Shah, association joint secretary Gulab Khan Pathan, advocate Bharat Bhagat and advocate Raju Patel — work on a voluntary basis at the lok adalat. They guide the accused as well as the complainant. The adalat handles cases related to prohibition, private complaints, Negotiable Instrument Act for bounced cheques, gambling as well as non-cognisable offences. In many western countries, 90 per cent of the disputes were settled out of court through mediation. Ahmedabad gets nine more evening courts

Lok adalats settle matters at a pre-trial stage and prevent cases from finding a way to court

Three years after the introduction of seven evening courts at metropolitan court, nine more courts have been set up to tackle case backlog. These will deal with all cases including those pertaining to the Negotiable Instruments Act and section 498a of the Dowry Prevention Act. The evening courts begin at 7 pm and work till 8.30 pm. Started on experimental basis in November 2006, the evening courts first took up cases related to minor offences, and later progressed to criminal cases. Gujarat was the first state to implement the double-shift system to clear backlog of cases.

Source: Ahmedabad mirror. 2.Views of Girish Patel on Lok Adalats: (from India Together.org)
ACCESS TO JUSTICE

Crippling Lok Adalats
As the justice delivery system gets farther from the people, a serious attempt like the Lok Adalat to make justice accessible to a large chunk of the poor has been appropriated by powerful vested interests. The search for an equitable justice system has come to an end, writes Girish Patel.

"We all want a Humane Legal System, but I think we sometimes forget that the largest part of humane is human. A humane legal system would look at the people it deals with as human beings, people with hearts and heads and lives and troubles. I think the biggest problem with our legal system is that often it sees the people it deals with as disembodied crimes or torts or bank accounts, and not as human beings. If we are ever to fix that, or set it right, we need lawyers not only with great minds, but also great heads. Justice and efficiency and legal craft are very good things. It is good and right and proper that you have spent three years learning about them. But they are incomplete. Justice need mercy, efficiency needs empathy, and legal craft needs love. And if words like empathy and love sound like they do not belong to the same page with a phrase like legal craft, I think that may be a sign that we have lost our bearings. If there is one thing I would ask you as you begin your professional lives, it is this: Do not lose your bearings. Use your minds and also use your hearts." Prof. Bill Stuntz Harvard Law School December 2007 - I am in search of real Lok Adalats as they originated in Gujarat from the most sensitive heart of late Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, M P Thakkar, who also served the Supreme Court as its judge. Like him many of us expected Lok Adalats to grow and develop into temples of justice. Sadly, this is not seen anywhere in India as they are failing. Not that they are dead, but as it happens in India with other institutions, they have suffered total metamorphosis into something completely different, distorted and perverted. Unfortunately we missed a great opportunity to develop purely, indigenous people's courts of justice, based upon the ideals of our Constitution, namely democracy, liberty, equality, justice, fraternity and human dignity in furtherance of our Constitution's "commitment to socio-economic revolution" (Granville Austin). The well-entrenched system of vested interests extending upto careerist legal professionals, mainly money minting lawyers and reactionary socio-economic forces, who co-opted emerging Lok Adalats to serve their narrow interests. As a result 'We, the People of India', remained where we were - trapped, alienated, impersonal, remote, narrowly divided and dominated by a system of administration of justice in which justice-seeking people are the only 'outsiders'. Genesis of Lok Adalat The Lok Adalat really originated from the failure of the established legal and juridical system to provide effective, fast, and inexpensive justice with the litigant at the centre, particularly the huge arrears of cases which took extraordinarily long time for disposal. In most of the cases, common people were waiting for justice - many a times simply for the conclusion of the case, not for justice. Again plethora of appeals,

revisions, reviews, and the end product is either victory or defeat of one of the parties, but not satisfactory and just resolution of the dispute. The late Justice Thakkar could not bear the sight of waiting labourers, Dalits or Adivasis cherishing hope for justice Adalat was held in Junagadh with great preparation and and the idea picked up and led to a number of Lok Adalats with the help of a select and sensitised group of advocates and at different places. At many of them the atmosphere was zeal. In one Lok Adalat in north Gujarat, when the judges"What is your problem?" The man with fears in his eyes said, has asked me about my case." and begging workers, widows, landless howsoever faint it could be. The first Lok remarkable simplicity. It was a great success charged with enthusiasm, and missionary cum-lawyers asked an ordinary litigant, "For the first time in five years, somebody

Many of us saw in this small incident the potential of Lok Adalats to grow into genuine Justice-Courts of the people and for the people. The sole guiding principle of Justice Thakkar was to turn Lok Adalats into "less expensive, less speculative, less glamourised, more participatory, more resolutions oriented or dispute solving mechanisms that work to serve the purpose of justice with humanity in mind". A novel and exciting idea In one sense, we in India had some kind of village community or caste panchayats or Adalats where local disputes were sought to be resolved. The problem was that they were nyaya panchayats (caste/community panchayats) or village panchayats operating within the rigid framework of the unjust, inequitable, hierarchical caste-system, where justice among equals was possible, but not justice between unequal opponents. Equality before law was absent. On the other hand when the British established their own judicial system with independent courts and lawyers, its "equality before law" did please the lower castes and lower ranks. It had a revolutionary germ, namely, even a Dalit can file a case against Brahmin.

But this was only a mirage. The social structure did affect the system and could not translate formal equality before law into substantial and real equality. The dominant sections and the lawyers hijacked the institution. Moreover, the system was so remote from the social reality and people's own world that it remained a totally alienated and impersonal system. It used to be said that a person who could not tell lies before his neighbours and relatives can shamelessly tell lies in a court of law even under oath. The English courts finally became the courts of the few and for the few, where the goddess of justice had unequal scales. The system centred around professional judges and skilled lawyers where the litigants were only the passive consumers and recipients of whatever justice could trickle down. As against this, we could see in the Lok Adalats - as they originally started working - their inner potential of overcoming the limitations of both traditional and British systems. They might bring back centre-stage the common people seeking justice, and deliver justice to the satisfaction of both parties, given the help of

sensitive judges and caring lawyers. We did not consider Lok Adalats as only a way out of the arrears of cases, but much more than that i.e. as genuine people's tribunals - independent, impartial, participatory and more justice-oriented that aimed at resolving disputes as far as possible. Downtrend After a few successful Lok Adalats, the process of distortion started. The very same vested legal interests, both among judges and the lawyers, started smelling something threatening the system they had created for themselves and their careers. They did not openly oppose it but toyed with the idea of using it to their advantages. Firstly, the Lok Adalats were found useful for reducing the burden of arrears of cases with great ease and without additional burden upon them. Secondly, to show the good performance and success of Lok Adalats, pending cases which were likely to be settled or compromised were kept pending and assigned to be placed before the Lok Adalat. Thus, a game of numbers was set off. Thirdly, Lok Adalats came to be used by judges at all levels for self-image-boosting and career advancement by extravagant publicity and fanfare. The simple puri-subji or khichdi-chhash gave way to multi-cuisine dishes. Fourthly, the lawyers who have already received their fees fully looked upon Lok Adalats as a method of disposing of cases no longer useful for them. Fifthly, the Lok Adalats that were meant to bring about resolution of dispute on the basis of equality, fairness, justice and give-and-take deteriorated in course of time into some kind of invisible, coercive agencies for brining undue public pressure, particularly pressure from the lawyers, judges, and the social workers present in the Lok Adalats for settlement despite its being unfair, unjust and calling for one sided sacrifice. Sixthly, the same unjust, unequal, authoritarian and hierarchical socio-economic structure of our society which was responsible for distorting the established justice delivery system engulfed the new system of Lok Adalats with the result that the poor, weak, needy and deserving side started losing their just fight to the advantage of rich, affluent, powerful and well off sections. Thus, the haves could have their way over have-nots. The former could purchase injustice at a low cost and with impunity. Thus, Lok Adalats also met the same fate as had happened to many other well-meaning institutions. Many times, good institutions die before their actual arrival and others die on arrival as they slowly undergo a decaying process or metamorphosis and grow into something totally different with different and opposite fuctions. Vested interests' game Lok Adalats originated from nobler purposes and for serving the cause of justice and bringing it to the door of the people. But the concept was never fully examined and was allowed to grow haphazardly and on an ad hoc basis. Nobody tried seriously to put it in a larger and proper historical and socio-political context. How should we look at the very concept of Lok Adalat - merely as a byproduct of the failure of our judicial system, or as a simple device to dispose of the heaps of cases pending for years in our courts, or as an alternative justice-delivery system to be imposed from above? If this is so, it was bound to fail or falter sooner or later. It could not develop simply as an adjunct of the present system of administration of justice centering around passive judges and controlled by aggressively expensive lawyers. Except Justice Thakkar, and few other judges, and a few committed lawyers, others - lawyers and judges - did not take Lok Adalats seriously. In fact, they looked down on them, and ridiculed or laughed at them. Many reluctantly joined and soon they discovered how this could serve their professional purpose. The spirit of the institution disappeared, its idealism evaporated; only form remained along side its professional utility. The Lok Adalats, as conceived and perceived by late Justice Thakkar could not take deep roots in the soil. It did not become part of natural ethos, part of living law. It was never accepted by the judges and lawyers as essential part of their true functions as persons entrusted to take forward the cause of justice and fairplay in the society.

How to look at Lok Adalats? The institution of Lok Adalat should be understood in the context of the evolution of our polity. As we have seen, we did have our own system of local and royal justice, with all its imperfections, injustices, and inadequacies. Aa a brooding sense of injustice is omnipresent in every human being, every society recognises forms of injustices and evolves its own methods of doing justice, always influenced and controlled by powerful interests. Still it had it roots in the society. The British system, even though based upon liberal concept of rule of law and equality before law, has merely remained an alien system for the vast majority of our people. It never became a part of their day-to-day life. The people by and large did have neither resources nor energy to use these courts and mostly were dragged into courts as victims or defendants. The courts and the law were for the people, not of the people. It was the freedom movement which gave us the new ideals of liberty, equality, justice, dignity, fraternity and democracy and which finally culminated in our Constitution in 1950. Its preamble, its democratic institutions, its ideals, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles constitute our "nation's conscience" and stood for our commitment to socio-economic revolution. Our basic institutions - Parliament, Legislature and Executive were moving towards people's participation through adult franchise and free elections. The 73rd and 74th Amendments adopted the Panchayati Raj institutions that were based upon principles of decentralisation of power and participatory democracy. The Supreme Court took one very important step forward by evolving relaxed locus standi and opened the gates of justice for the large section of invisible and inaudible people through Public Interest Litigation - a new participatory institution. A new concept of preventive and remedial legal services came to be recognised and adopted. Public hearing in environmental projects was accepted by law, and now the people's right to information has become a very important instrument for the people in the affairs of the nation. Lok Adalats ought to have been understood, accepted and evolved in this direction - as participatory people's courts or centres of justice with the best features of people's participation and people's perception and of independent, fair and equal justice. They could and should have become a part of the process of humanisation, emancipation and democratisation of law and justice. Of course this required clear vision, perception, insight and foresight, leadership, commitment, courage and strength of conviction and firm determination to fight against all odds and vested interests. This was not to be, and as it happened with most of our Constitutional institutions, it also overtook Lok Adalats. Is there no hope? We cannot afford to give up hope. The process of humanisation and democratisation is always slow and has to undergo ups and downs. The question is of rendering justice to the members of society, and every society has to arrange for protecting rights, preventing or promoting wrongs and for settling or resolving disputes, both individual and collective. It is for one of these principal reasons for which state as a political institution came into being and if it ceases to discharge that function or fails in this, it ceases to be a state. Of course, justice through state courts is not the only way. In resolving or dispute-settling systems or modes for justice, to a court of law should be the last one. Social resolution of disputes is generally preferable to official resolution because it is more socially acceptable and does not ordinarily leave Lok Adalats must be considered as one of the agencies in appendage to or corrective of the present system. every society there are a number of conflictand it is generally well recognised that resort behind bitterness. It can also be preventive. this wide social context, not merely as an

Lok Adalats, if properly conceived and thoughtfully designed, have many advantages over the established courts. They combine both lawmen and lawyers. They are less formalised, less expensive, more

purposeful and directly committed to real long term justice. The litigating people have greater scope for participation in the satisfactory resolution of their disputes. Lok Adalats can thus perform different functions depending upon different factors. They can pre-empt and remove the causes of the likely disputes with the assistance of auxiliary people's centres which can constantly be vigilant, and sense or detect possible areas of conflict or can encourage people to bring their possible or likely disputes before them. They can also act simultaneously as conciliators, mediators, arbitrators or adjudicators as per the requirements. One special advantage is that their decision will be made easily acceptable and smoothly enforceable. These Lok Adalats will be and can be indigenous and people's court or tribunal originating or drawing inspiration from the people - not remote, alienated, impersonal, formalistic and legalistic. Like language, law and its courts must reflect the volkgeist - the spirit of the people - not because this is always just and righteous, but because it is closer to the law of life. The absence of this was the bane of the English system in India, which remained largely an urban and elitist institution for the few, while the common people continued to live and resolve problems in their own ways. Lok Adalat can combine both traditionality of the modern and modernity of the tradition. The modern world of globalisation is in search of different alternative disputes-settlement methods for its trade, business and industries, and Indian lawyers and judges are in a hurry, as if they were evolving or creating original methods for the people. They do not know - or pretend not to know - that they are really trying to meet the rising and urgent demands and needs of a globalised capitalism. There is nothing wrong in this, but the search and zeal for effective and genuine people's tribunals or fora for people's problems must also go on simultaneously. Here there is an opportunity for a strong movement and campaign for Lok Adalats. Such Lok Adalats will have roots in the soil, easily accessible and acceptable to the people. They can perform different roles - preventive, negotiating, bargaining, compromising and resolving. They must retain and preserve the basic feature of impartial, just and fair system of justice, with popular participation, but not diverted or distorted by populism or guided or controlled by powerful vested interests of the society at the local level. What ought to be done? The task is not very easy. Its challenge has to be accepted. But we cannot afford to give up the idea. We should start at both the ends. One, the pending cases in different courts can be sorted out and those cases touching the essential needs of the people should be our focus. To resolve them, we should build up a good team of lawyers, judges and social workers who understand the social dynamics and who can withstand the pressure from the stronger elements of society. We must orient them towards seeking demystification of law, so that they start understanding that essence of law is substantively equal treatment and justice. At the other end we should start at the grassroot level, and build up an organised group of easily available law-men and others, who live and work in the midst of the people and who can provide preventive legal services to the needy, particularly the poor and the weak. The idea is to root out the initial causes of trouble and This requires a totally new approach. The 21st century is and human developments. The basic principle is people's participation and people's control in all spheres. This must also include the sphere of law, lawyers and judges. Law cannot be allowed to be too much sophisticated, learned and only a lifeless machine to be used and abused at will. letter men looking upon law as only an exercise in logic and disputes and resolve them at the earliest. considered as the century for human rights

intricate, or even scientific, otherwise it will be Lawyers and judges cannot be mere blacknot in life.

There is nothing new and surprising in this. What was after all the jury system in criminal cases and even in civil cases? The spirit underlying this must pervade and permeate the entire juridical system. It is definitely a long term project and there are no short cuts. We must start with our law colleges and with our legal education. We must aim at producing and training lawyers and judges for radical peopleorientated transformation of our justice-delivery system. In course of time Lok Adalats as projected here will take deep roots in the soil and will be accepted as the foundation of our judicial system. Only then courts of law will become courts of the people - integral part of people's social life. This will be a very challenging task - to create people's institutions with the active cooperation and support of the people. We must also remember that this will be seriously resisted by the established profession, as it is rightly said "every profession is a conspiracy against lay people". We must be on constant guard to ensure that the new institutions are not hijacked by the judges and lawyers for their self interest. It is necessary that

these institutions grow from the bottom and not from the top and for this a strong people's movement demanding the people and justice-centered system of administration of justice is necessary. We do require trained judges and trained lawyers, not as benefactors or commanders but as people's servants and equal participants with those seeking justice. These local and decentralised institutions working with and in the midst of the people and with openness, fairness and transparency are the only effective answers to the ideological hegemony of capitalism and globalisation controlled by giant national and multinational corporates. We must strive to make latter subordinate and subservient to the demands of dignified life of the common people in every nook and corner of the country. Are we prepared to accept this challenge? Girish Patel December 2007

Girish Patel is a human rights activist and a senior advocate in the Gujarat High Court. Source: This article is republished by arrangement from Combat Law, volume 6, issue 6.

3.Indian Express article on Lok Adalats winning people’s faith:

Lok Adalats have won people's faith
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

SURAT, Nov 15: The State Legal Services Authority working president and judge of the Gujarat High Court Justice J N Bhatt said more and more litigants were turning to Lok Adalats as it was inexpensive and justice never delayed like courts. Justice Bhatt while speaking at the 143rd District Lok Adalat held in the district and sessions court on Saturday to mark the end of the Legal Awareness Week said 6,800 cases were brought to the Lok Adalat for settlement. The judge called on the authorities to respond in equal measure and dispose of as many cases as possible so that people's faith in the judiciary can be further strengthened. This was jointly organised by the Gujarat State and Surat District Legal Services Authority. About 1460 such adalats have been held in the state so far and the district recently received a state award for conducting and disposing of maximum lok adalats and cases. About 2,50,029 cases have been solved till date. The biggest advantage of lok adalats over regular courts is that not a single rupee has to be spent by the parties and the result is expeditious. While expressing happiness over the increase in legal awareness among the people, Bhatt felt that more efforts needed to be made in this direction. He cited the example of legal awareness programmes held by the government on October 2 throughout the state and felt that more such programmes were necessary. High court judge K R Vyas, additional chief secretary (administration) P David, officials of major banks, district judge A A Qureshi, Surat District Bar Association president Ashit Mehta and others attended the lok adalat. Source: Indian Express

2. Related with the R.F.G.I’s activities during my internship period:
1. Lawyers protest SC’s decision to challenge HC’s verdict
By IANS

Posted On Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 02:27:47 AM A group of Gujarat legal luminaries has criticised the Supreme Court’s decision to appeal against the Delhi High Court judgement on the disclosure of assets of judges. It has formed a panel to decide the future course of action and mobilise public opinion. At a meeting of former judges, lawyers and social activists in Ahmedabad late on Friday, the members passed a resolution protesting the apex court decision. The meeting was held at the residence of justice T U Mehta, former chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court. The apex court has decided to appeal against the judgement of the Delhi High Court about assets’ disclosure under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Senior lawyer Girish Patel said on Saturday that the three-member panel would decide on the future course of action. The panel consists of former justice R A Mehta, Kanan Dhru (R.F.G.I) and Girish Patel. They will forward the resolution passed at the meeting to bar associations in the state. The resolution points out that it would not be in the interest of the highest ideals of justice for the higher court to be a petitioner and litigant before itself in a case involving its own actions. “It will shake the confidence of the people in the highest court. We believe this action of the apex court will undermine the authority and credibility,” the resolution stated.

Source:http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/index.aspx?Page=article&sectname=News%20%20City&sectid=3&contentid=20100314201003140227472005c5acc4 2.Ahmedabad youth ponder cost of women's bill
DNA Friday, March 12, 2010 9:10 IST

The Women's Reservation Bill generated mix reactions among Ahmedabad's youth at a debate on the same organised by the Research Foundation for Governance in India (RFGI) on Thursday evening. The debate saw intense interactions between those for and against the Bill. "Women have been shouting about inequality for long. This is their

chance for empowerment and more opportunity on a high-level playing field," said environmental engineering student, Nemi Vora, 18, who supported the bill. According to her, it provides a window of opportunity for gender equality. She further said that more women in government will help address various issues related women. "This (bill) will give women hope in changing their situation and bring about much needed reformation," said Vora. Another supporter of the bill, vice-resident of AIESEC in Ahmedabad Prakash Iyengar said, "This bill is a one time opportunity for women, who are already working hard at the grassroots level, to break the glass ceiling and facilitate women's empowerment." In contrast, other participants of the debate who opposed the bill said that reservation defeated the talk about equal opportunity. "I'm against reservation because it does not represent equal opportunity," said Anar Shukla, 29, a project manager with Education Initiative.Shukla said that the bill is a reflection of affirmative action and female proxy candidates may be viewed as 'dummies' or 'props' rather than be judged on the basis of their merit. "The women will not be chosen because of their intelligence or experience, but because of their gender. I want to be able to choose the person who will speak for me irrespective of the gender," she said. Only one-fifth of the 30 attendees who took part in the debate were women. The other arguments against the bill included lack of suitable women candidates, effect of motherhood on a female politician's career among others which some youth said would weaken a female candidate's position. "I was surprised by some of the chauvinistic comments," said Vora who said that many women make it to the top on the basis of pure merit. However, some were fearful the bill would bring out more Bihar cases where former chief minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav appointed his illiterate wife, Rabri Devi, to step into his shoes after he was forced to quit office over some corruption cases. Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_ahmedabad-youth-ponder-cost-ofwomen-s-bill_1358219 3.No internal debate happening within political parties' TNN, Mar 8, 2010, 05.54am IST AHMEDABAD: The existing democratic system within the political parties in the country needs an overhaul. Constant effort is needed to strengthen the inner party political system. This was the high point of a public debate on democratic system within political parties organised by city-based Research Foundation for Governance in India (RFGI) on Sunday. Taking a critical view of the political scenario, former IIM-A dean Jagdeep Chhokar and founder-member of the Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR) said, "Political parties need to be more responsible and accountable to the public. Presently, their only job is to win elections." He added that there is no internal debate happening within the political parties. "If there is a voice of dissent, either the member is barred or they float a new political party. The internal democratic system within the parties will greatly help the governance in

country," said Chhokar. The debate also saw representation from two major political parties in the country chief spokesperson, Gujarat Congress, Arjun Modhwadia, and minister of state, Gujarat and MLA from BJP Saurabh Patel. Modhwadia accepted the fact that there has been an erosion in democracy within political parties. "Right of dissent is an important factor in matured democracy. Rahul Gandhi has taken a lead in strengthening the internal party democracy by organising elections at grass root levels. The political parties need youth power to propel bigger changes in society," he said. However, Patel differed. "On a practical level, the inner party democracy creates internal rivalry because of existing caste equation and onus of giving representation to each one of them," he said. Sharing the Samras' initiative of Gujarat Government, Dalal said, "The initiative of building consensus in choosing a representative without dividing the electorate has been a success." Present chief vigilance commissioner and former chief secretary of Gujarat, Manjula Subramaniam lamented the fact that majority of work done by elected representatives revolves around administrative issues like transfers and promotions in the government. "Democracy is an evolutionary process and each stakeholder needs to take a responsibility to strengthen it," she said. Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/No-internal-debatehappening-within-political-parties/articleshow/5655238.cms

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