Lok Adalat

Lok Adalat (people¶s courts), established by the government settles dispute through conciliation and compromise. The First Lok Adalat was held in Chennai in 1986. Lok Adalat accepts the cases which could be settled by conciliation and compromise, and pending in the regular courts within their jurisdiction. 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. There is no court fee. 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. The procedural laws, and the Evidence Act are not strictly followed while assessing the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat. Main condition of the Lok Adalat is that both parties in dispute should agree for settlement. 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. Lok Adalat is very effective in settlement of money claims. Disputes like partition suits, damages and matrimonial cases can also be easily settled before Lok Adalat as the scope for compromise through an approach of give and take is high in these cases. Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public, where they can get their disputes settled fast and free of cost.

Significance of Lok Adalat
Written By : Kumar Ravish, Pre Law First Year Symbiosis College 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

Lok Adalat settlement is no longer a voluntary concept. This is the expeditious method to settle large number of MACT claims. Central. The Act gives statutory recognition to the resolution of disputes by compromise and settlement by the Lok Adalats. A sitting or retired judicial officer. other persons of repute as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court. That is the reason why Insurance Companies are interested in settling Third Party claims by Lok Adalats. when the dispute is at a pre-trial stage and not before a Court of Law it can be referred to Lok Adalat. The concept has been gathered from system of Panchayats. The Act is a legislative attempt to decongest the Courts from heavy burden of cases. 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. It is the best provisions by the effort of judiciary. which is devoid of procedural wrangles of regular trial. This is the simplest method. 2. Disposal through Lok Adalat is the only panacea for controlling the arrears of cases. At the same time. a Lok Adalat has jurisdiction to deal with all matters. provided a reference is made to it by a court or by the concerned authority or committee. Certain salient features of the Act are enumerated below:Section 19 1. and culture of this Country. Bhagwati. By this Act Lok Adalat has got statutory character and has been legally recognized. It has a native flavor known to the people. They will go a long way in resolving the disputes at almost no cost to the litigants and with minimum delay. Conciliators for Lok Adalat comprise the following: A.by settling huge number of Third Party claims referred by Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT). Although the concept of Lok Adalat was very much vogue since early years. It is an informal system of dispute resolution. The provisions of the Act based on indigenous concept are meant to supplement the Court system. P. . Matters pending or at pre-trial stage. which are not compoundable. 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. which has roots in the history. Shri. 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. Lok Adalats have been exclusively organized for settlement of motor third party claims. According to Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act 1994 effective from 09-11-1995 has since been passed. Since April 1985. Insurance Company can save additional interest. Except matters relating to offences. It has become a Dispute Management Institution. B. the Act is not meant to replace and supplants the Court system. State. Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987. This form was made available for settlement of Motor Third Party claims under the initiative of former Chief Justice of India. District and Taluk Legal Services Authority has been created who are responsible for organizing Lok Adalats at such intervals and place. Lok Adalat now is playing sole role in solving disputes and settling MACT cases. There is a need for decentralization of justice. since then number of Lok Adalats have been organized throughout the Country through this forum to the satisfaction of the claimants. N.

3.Respondents. Requisitioning of Public record.Section 20: Reference of Cases Cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat as under:1. Compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of justice. Summoning of Witnesses. It has far reaching ramifications. 2. Reception of evidences. which was disconnected by the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) on account of non-payment of Bill.88 Abdul Hasan and National Legal Services Authority . 2. Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed as decree of Civil Court. Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat.The petitioner filed a writ petition before Delhi High Court for restoration of electricity at his premises. The Act provisions envisages as under: 1. Facts of the Case . Section 22 Every proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings for the purpose of :1. One of the parties makes an application for reference. Discovery of documents. Delhi Vidyut Board and others . Inter alia.Petitioner Vs. the matter shall be returned to the concerned court for disposal in accordance with Law. By consent of both the parties to the disputes. 5. Landmark Decision of Hon¶ble Delhi High Court AIR 1999 Delhi Page . 4. 3. 3. Section 21 After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties. Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation. 4. equity. No appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat. the grievances of the citizens were not only confined to the DVB but also directed against the State . Every award made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute. Hon¶ble Delhi High Court has given a landmark decision highlighting the significance of Lok Adalat movement. 2. fair play and other legal principles. award is passed by the conciliators. The matter need not be referred to the concerned Court for consent decree.

there has been an alarming situation of docket-explosion and the ultimately remedy is the disposal of cases through the mechanism of Lok Adalat. Justice Anil Dev Singh passed the order giving directions for setting up of permanent Lok Adalats. Court notices were directed to be issued to NALSA and Delhi State Legal Service Authority.in India by Justice Jitendra N. What we do today will shape our tomorrow. While ADR is.A vibrant . Lawyers. .ADR . It was in this context that the parliament enacted the Legal Services Authority Act-1987. High Court of Gujarat.His lordship Hon¶ble Mr. therefore clear that the State has been ordained to secure a legal system. Municipal Corporation. Article 39 A of the Constitution of India provides for equal justice and free legal aid. A round table Justice through Lok-Adalat (Peoples' Court) . Judgment Held. Justice Anil Dev Singh deserve special commendations and are worthy of note. 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. and. If we closely scrutinize the contents of the decision of Delhi High Court. It will be profitable to reproduce the important text and abstract from this judgment. law-makers and law interpreters have started viewing disputes resolution in a different and divergent environmental light and with many more alternatives to the litigation. It is. now. Ahmedabad) Cite as : (2002) 1 SCC (Jour) 11 The emergence of alternative dispute resolution has been one of the most significant movements as a part of conflict management and judicial reform. GIC and other bodies. The need of the hour is frantically beckoning for setting up Lok-Adalats on permanent and continuous basis. envisioned and ingrained in the conscience of the Bench and the Bar and is an integral segment of modern practice. Executive Chairman. It should also steer the conscience of all. The language of Article-39 A is couched in mandatory terms. 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. This is made more than clear by the use of the twiceoccurring word ³shall´ in Art-39 A. The Lok Adalat and alternative dispute resolution experiment must succeed otherwise the consequence for an over burdened court system would be disastrous. which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity. law students. Bhatt (Judge. MTNL. and it has become a global necessity.agencies like DDA. as there is an increasing need to make Lok Adalat movement a permanent feature. Gujarat State Legal Services Authority. which should be an eye opener for all of us. The scholarly observations of His Lordship Mr. The system needs to inhale the life giving oxygen of justice through the note.

It also helps in emergence of jurisprudence of peace in the larger interest of justice and wider sections of society. quicker and cost-effective way at all the three stages i. long time consuming. There is considerable evidence that ADR was widely used in ancient India. now. expeditious and less cumbersome and. It has been proved to be a very effective alternative to litigation. 1987. ADR's growth has long been an . The American Bar Association created a section of dispute resolution. complex and also stressful. The necessity and utility of ADR is unquestionable. Lok Adalat settlement is binding like an order. which has given it. in general. The system has received laurels from the parties involved in particular and the public and the legal functionaries. It is proved inexpensive. cumbersome. the Legal Services Authorities Act. 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. as a part of its curriculum. and vociferous. also. disputes can be settled in a simpler. pending-litigation and post-litigation. this led to a search for an alternative complementary and supplementary mechanism to the process of the traditional civil court for inexpensive. Since the enactment in 1990 of the Civil Justice Reform Act (CJRA) in US. the courts run on very formal processes and are presided over by trained adjudicators entrusted with the responsibilities of resolution of disputes on the part of the State. vocal and vibrant part of our historical past. decree. there has been tremendous growth in the creation of ADR programmes and their implementations. As such. The National Legal Services Authority constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act. The ground level operations of "Lok Adalats" are handled by State-level.e. illiterate and ignorant sections of society. 1987. In justice delivery system. Rome and Egypt for the settlement of varied disputes. a legal sanction and made it more effective and enforceable in different States. This olden but. legalised proven viripotent and vital mechanism of ADR. Lok Adalat is one of the fine and familiar fora which has been playing an important role in settlement of disputes. easy. Lok Adalat (Peoples' Court) concept and philosophy is an innovative Indian contribution to the world jurisprudence. dilatory. is employed since the litigative journey in the court of law has become exorbitantly expensive. district-level and talukalevel agencies constituted in the respective States. also. a vital. This movement will be further strengthened with more and more government litigations and disputes by and against the Government going to Lok Adalat since the Government is the Largest litigant in this country. comity and harmony and easy access to justice. It is executable and nonappealable. ADR. less stressful resolution of disputes. is covered by the statutory umbrella.The Harvard Business School. expeditious and simple ADR mechanism. Undoubtedly. amity. acts as the apex and nodal agency for laying down policies and principles for making legal services available under the Act. The processual formalisation of justice gave tremendous rise to consumption of time and high number of cases and resultant heavy amount of expenditure. It is evident from the history that the function of resolving dispute has fallen upon the shoulders of the powerful ones. Resolution of disputes is an essential characteristic for societal peace. It brings an end only in one forum or stage and finality is achieved. a few years before added dispute resolution as a new course. for indigent. on account of variety of reasons which may not be deeply probed in this subject at this stage. ADR has been. It has very deep and long roots not only in the recorded history but even in prehistorical era. particularly. pre-litigation. Obviously. With the evolution of modern States and sophisticated legal mechanisms. judgment or award of a "court". Through this mechanism.

inexpensive and less complex settlement of their disputes. "Lok" stands for "people" and the vernacular meaning of the term "Adalat" is the court. my will and direction expressly is. For him. has said: "I had learnt the true practice of law. insufficient and incomplete response to the needs and expectations of mankind. borrowing from his experience as an arbitrator of private disputes in the 1770s." The common man has started looking upon legal system as a foe and not as a friend.each having a choice of one . expenses. The institution of Lok Adalat in India. Which three men thus chosen. George Washington. we know that we are going to win all or lose all. Whereas." Abraham Lincoln has observed: "Discourage litigation. and to enter men's hearts. or legal constructions. I lost nothing. during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer. traditional system of justice is not enough for the larger societal interest and for the people committed to peace and inquisitive of expeditious. contrary to expectations. He has also advocated the process of arbitration. we know that we may not get all that we want. experience .integral part of world's landscape. successfully. Aristotle in Rhetoric and on Poetics said. known for their probity and understanding. I realised that the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven as under. Persuade your neighbours to compromise wherever you can. but we will not lose everything. crafted it into his last will and testament: "I hope and trust. and such decision is.and the third by those two. The lesson was so indelibly burnt unto me that the large part of my time. In India. Many a times. the father of nation. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser . unfettered by law. even the sacred texts of the major religions and also reflections of words of great philosophers and thinkers are pertinent and evident. shall. means. the first President of the United States. As a peacemaker. to all intents and purposes to be as binding on the parties as if it had been given in the Supreme Court of the United States. of the usual technical terms. thereby not even money. law is always taking something away. In this respect. certainly not my soul. There will still be business enough. reflecting a sense that system of justice based on technical rules and procedures and formal processes was inefficient. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature. People's Court. but if. Therefore. arbitration and domestic or inhouse tribunals are alternatives to formal courts. When we go to court. that no disputes will arise concerning them. Cicero has also said that for a larger assessment of fairness processual justice many times would march over the substantive justice. clicked to prove its true mettle.in fees. two to be chosen by the disputants . as the very name suggests. However. and waste of time. Blackstone in his famous Commentaries on the Law of English has observed about the strict justice and formal rules on process and the requirement of adopting principles of process to deal with equities which matter in the controversy. "Arbitration was introduced to give equity its due weight"." Mahatma Gandhi. that all disputes (if unhappily any should arise) shall be decided by three impartial and intelligent men. when we go to any method of ADR or for informal settlement with different expectations. tribunalisation of justice has yet not. was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. declare their sense of the testators' intention. or because too much or too little has been said on any of the devices to be consonant with law.

this concept has. therefore. worked out in the concept of Lok Adalat. at a disadvantageous position. It involves people who are directly or indirectly affected by dispute resolution. once again. The Gujarat State Legal Services Authority is in the forefront. create a culture of settlement of disputes through such mechanisms. Indian socio-economic conditions warrant highly motivated and sensitised legal service programmes as large population of consumers of justice (heart of the judicial anatomy) are either poor or ignorant or illiterate or backward. While we encourage ADR mechanism. voluntariness. rightly said. This Indian-institutionalised. Alternative dispute resolution is. contains various provisions for settlement of disputes through Lok Adalat. statutory basis. It has again been proved to be a successful and viable national imperative and incumbency. It is. said participation. since the second world war. call it "Peoples' Court". rightly. as such. The concept of legal services which includes Lok Adalat is a "revolutionary evolution of resolution of disputes". some treat it with negotiations and arbitration. only in the last three years. is a fundamental human right. best suited for the larger and higher sections of the present society and Indian system. Experience has shown that it is one of the very efficient and important ADRs and most suited to the Indian environment. Some people equate Lok Adalat to conciliation or mediation.has shown that the tribunals often end up as dead cycles of litigative voyage in the courts and resultant lengthening of the life of dispute resolution process. Now. now. 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. The concept of Lok Adalat was pushed back into oblivion in last few centuries before independence and particularly during the British regime. It has provided an important juristic technology and vital tool for easy and early settlement of disputes. more than 11. all important characteristics of this unique Indian institution rooted in India's history and culture and environment. in fact. The ancient concept of settlement of dispute through mediation. The statutory mechanism of legal services includes concept of Lok Adalat in the Legal Services Authorities Act. and. become very popular and familiar amongst litigants. also. again very popular and is gaining historical momentum. The legal aid. transparency. This concept is. in the whole of India. has a duty to secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity. the ancient concept of Lok Adalat has. negotiation or through arbitral process known as "Peoples' Court verdict" or decision of "Nyaya-Panch" is conceptualized and institutionalized in the philosophy of Lok Adalat. It has. now. neatly. once again. the greatest revolution in the law has been the mechanism of evolution of system of legal aid which includes an ADRM. It is. The State. accommodation. on road map of legal services and Lok Adalat and through this indigenous and hybrid mechanism and method. pursuant to the constitutional mandate in Article 39-A of the Constitution of India. Those who find it different from all these. The Legal Services Authorities Act. indigenised and now. efficiency and lack of animosity are undoubtedly.41. been rejuvenated. culture and societal interests. 1987. fairness. legalized concept for settlement of dispute promotes the goals of our Constitution. The finest hour of justice is the hour of compromise when parties after burying their hatchet reunite by a reasonable and just compromise. neighbourliness. Thus. Equal justice and free legal aid are hand in glove.909 cases out . Various ADRM methods have been experimented and accepted as viable methods in different situations in different environments in different countries. we must. expectation.

a basic and primordial instinct in every human being. cooperative. it is. Let me conclude with a sound but an imperative caveat that we must be ever mindful that "Yesterday is not ours to recover. . It is equally true nothing static would survive long. The duty of justice transcends all other considerations and is of paramount importance and overriding. "Justice shall never be rationed". negotiation. help and assistance of NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY. like the traveller. I must state that mainly it is the outcome of: (1) Joint collaborative efforts of the Bench. in fact. The updated landscapes of progress and profile of works done by Gujarat State Legal Services Authority are highlighted in Tables A.214 cases dealt with of different types have been amicably settled to the satisfaction of parties only in Gujarat (as on 1-9-2001). Benzamin Cardozo. and the NGOs. therefore. The degree of perfection attained by legal system may be measured by the extent to which it exists in good instinct for justice system to express itself and to find its fulfillment. pioneering and palliative alternative mode of dispute settlement which is accepted as a viable. Sometimes a legal system fails to achieve its purpose because of defects and deficiencies in its substantive laws and sometimes mainly because of its procedural rules' infirmities. voluntary acceptance of conciliation with the help of counsellors and conciliators. informal. Not every legal system succeeds in this goal. promising and potential ADRM. It revolves round the principle of creating awareness amongst the disputants to the effect that their welfare and interest. dusted. proliferating and pioneering. but not standstill. In every kind of civilization. lies in arriving. consensual and peaceful settlement of the disputes. arbitration and participation. a reality. Law and system should be stable. expeditious form of resolution of disputes. the great American Judge observed: "The inn that shelters for the night is not the journey's end. concept and philosophy of important institution . efficient. really. must be ready for tomorrow. There is nothing permanent except "CHANGE". Law and system of justice are not like antiques to be taken down. collective and cohesive endeavours in popularising. The true basis of settlement of disputes by the Lok Adalat is the principle of mutual consent. immediate. creative. economic. as well as. but they are rather like a vigorous tree which has its roots in history and takes on new graft." The concept of Lok Adalat is no longer an experiment in India. The law.50. It is a hybrid or admixture of mediation. rule of law and thereby invigorate the commandment. (2) useful guidance and dynamic approach and leadership. annexed herewith for ready reference. It is a participative. and settlement of disputes arising out of human relations by eliminating social tensions and conflicts and it must. societal instinct and every society strives or aspires to attain it through its legal system. but it is an effective and efficient.so as to strengthen our pluralistic democratic values. admired and put back on the shelf. but tomorrow is ours to win or lose". pursuit of justice is instinctive. let us get together. at amicable.alternative dispute resolution mechanism . and. change with changing socio-economic conditions. puts out new sprouts and occasionally drops dead wood. therefore. Let us therefore make all efforts to advance and strengthen "equal access to justice". concerted. in Tables D and E. It is a dynamic instrument fashioned for the purpose of achieving ameliorative and harmonious adjustment. stand united. the heart of the Constitution of India.of 12. B and C and that of Parliament Legal Aid Clinic. the Bar. it is an individual. and strengthen our Bench and Bar irrevocable unique partnership and make collaborative.

11.2 NIL 601 1.2 77.04 Total 6 2 9 (Mar199 2 to Aug2001 ) 1328 90. No . Mar1992 to Dec1997 2.27 0 237 15.96.900 2.456 6660 70.120 844 46.385 25. 1999 4.80 1 273 14.21 11.007 7619 30.092 336. Total (1998 to 1-92001) 1470 2.98.007 70.721 Table B Sl.01.798 5.36 NIL NIL 9.35.874 113. 2000 5.91 15.64 3 254 12.GUJARAT STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY Table A Sl.66 55.157 2.40.794 73. Grand 17.787 2807 1.140 484 44.179 4530 5.53.12 2 7.230 16.90 6 4 9 10. 1.218 67. No.15.51.359 1.50.13.56 83.24 23. 2001 6.41.20.76 5 70.26 223. Particulars 1998 Number of Lok Adalats held 2529 1999 6580 Years 2000 4530 2001 (till 30-6-01) 2152 . Period Held Lok Adalats Cases dealt with Cases Held disposed of Lok Adalats for motor accident cases Legal Literac Cases Cases Compensatio Other y dealt dispose n awarded Compensatio Camps with d of (Rs in n held Crores) (Rs in Crores) 32.213 83.952 12.28 7 80 3764 2529 3. 1998 3.60 13.45.44 12.713 6580 2.874 2904 37.388 1.488 10.

32.787 0.96.874 77.456 71 2.264 1.41.569 109.69 842 10.947 68.20 30 30.13.868 75.03 8.83 1427 12. 6.750 18 7.61 5.11.29.66 29 7619 21 1.20 1018 35.18.2.36.56 2106 3161 1554 8418 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 Up to 31-8-01 4882 924 Grand Total 26.04.179 3. 7.328 63. 12. 10.09. 1.91 814.72.791 174.952 95. Particulars Pre-litigation cases settled Execution petitions cases settled Under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act Cases settled Compensation 206 6.950 0.500 12.716 0.000 6 1.05 15. Per day Lok Adalat held Expenditure (in Rs) towards Lok Adalat Cost (in Rs) per Lok Adalat Number of cases settled in Lok Adalat Cost per case settled in Lok Adalat Per day disposal of cases settled in Lok Adalat Total disposal of motor accident petitions Total Amount (in Rs) awarded in MA petitions Per day disposal in Lok Adalat for MA petitions Legal Literacy Camps held Per day Legal Literacy Camp held Expenditure towards Legal Literacy Camps Number of persons benefited through LL Camps Males Females 7 4.27.25 87. 11. No.870 5.00 2.766 3361 45.38.300 23.399 4285 9751 11.68.08. 2.680 0.69 3. 3. 14.04.23.55 157.034 6.69 485 984 8.73 .385 83 3. 3.18 1060.24 48 25.64.112 13.80 5 5354 30 58. Cost per individual for Legal Literacy Camp (Rs) Table C Sl.320 23.54.49.250 12 4. 5.33 373 1.04 40.07. 4. 9.212 19.630 0.41.201 0.488 67.05 52. 8. 13.40 578 10.487 92.

Particulars Cases received in Permanent LegalAid Clinic Cases settled in Permanent LegalAid Clinic Para-legal training camps organized 1999 881 2000 3462 2001 10. 1. 5. 881 3076 3. 6. No. Category Retired High Court Judges Retired Judges of Subordinate Courts Retired Government Officers Serving Judicial Officers Advocates Social Workers Total Number 7 2 5 7 40 3 64 . Table E Category wise details of consultants visiting permanent legal-aid clinic: Sl.878* 1756 Grand Total 15.awarded (App. 4. 2. 1.AID CLINIC As on 31-8-2001 Sl. ² 55 7 62 * Includes 8031 cases relating to M/s Golden Forests Ltd.221* 5713 2. No. Rs in Lakhs) Table D PERMANENT LEGAL . 3.

IN RECENT times the concept of Lok Adalat has gained popularity.382 cases relate to matrimonial issues. Lok Adalat means people's court. and if no settlement could be reached. Labour Law Adalat. A board patronised by the government was constituted and a society called the Tamil Nadu Free Legal Aid and Advice Committee was formed and registered under the Societies Registration Act.. The apex body is located at Chennai. the duty counsel shall hear both sides and apprise them of the legal position in the dispute and help them reach an amicable settlement. Provident Fund Lok Adalat. As many as 17. damages and matrimonial cases can be easily settled before Lok Adalat as the scope for compromise through an approach of give and take is high in these cases.. besides bitterness between the warring parties. Prison Lok Adalat. due to heavy court fee. Lok Adalat for speedy justice Though the Lak Adalat lends itself to easy settlement of money claims there is scope for settlement of other disputes as well. (b) conciliation and settlement of disputes at prelitigation stage and (c) to educate the people on their legal rights by holding legal aid camps at village level. had introduced Article 39 (A) in the Constitution in February 1977. send notice to the other party and if he is also willing to appear before the free legal aid committee. heavy costs. in contrast to the regular law courts established by the government. had they been taken to regular courts it would have caused delay. A person who has a dispute to be settled can approach the legal aid office and the duty counsel shall examine his case. The mediation centres exclusively for women were also established. For conciliation and settlement a duty counsel is appointed from out of the panel who will be available in the legal aid office on all working days. District and taluk committees were formed with a panel of lawyers. The Central Government. Now the scheme is available throughout India. (2) increase in flow of cases in recent years due to multifarious Acts enacted by the Central and State Governments. The poor find it difficult to prosecute or defend a case due to high costs involved. Despite the fact that the judicial system in India is well organised with high level of integrity. Tamil Nadu scheme Tamil Nadu implemented the free legal aid scheme in 1977. Thus in the Directive Principles of the State Policy. parties could seek the remedy through a court of law. The scheme worked successfully in Tamil Nadu in all the district and taluk centres. Partition suits. In Tamil Nadu alone there are at present 77 mediation centres apart from 45 centres for women in selected villages. Instead of the settlement of the disputes in the prelitigation stage. are organised to settle disputes. it is now enshrined that the Central and State Governments should ensure that the operation of the legal system promote justice on the basis of equal opportunity and shall in particular provide free legal aid for the poor and ensure that justice is not denied to them for economic reasons or other disabilities. lawyer's fee and incidental charges and (4) delay in disposal of cases resulting in huge pendency in all the courts. The scope and objectives of the free legal aid committee are (a) granting free legal aid to the needy litigants through a panel lawyer to represent them in the case. Eminent judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts have many a time emphasised the need for free legal aid to the poor. and naturally many may be curious to know what is Lok Adalat. (3) the high Cost involved in prosecuting or defending a case in a court of law. The success of the scheme in Tamil Nadu encouraged other States to follow suit. . for which also the committee will extend free legal aid. the law courts are confronted with four main problems: (1) the number of courts and judges in all grades are alarmingly inadequate.638 cases have so far been settled at these centres of which 7. the legal aid committee had decided to take the legal aid to the doorstep of the litigants and establish mediation centres in selected villages. etc. taking note of the need for legal aid for the poor and the needy. Impelled by the impressive response from the public and sincere support extended by the lawyers and the judges.

The overdues from the bank borrowers exceed Rs. First. The First Lok Adalat was held in Chennai in 1986. 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. Therefore the terms of settlement arrived at a Lok Adalat were sent to the court in which the case was pending and the judge of that court used to dispose of the cases on terms settled in the Lok Adalat. Partition suits. 42 crores. In every respect the scheme of Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public.Spurred by the successful implementation of the free legal aid scheme. which causes delay in the settlement of the dispute finally. . The nationalised banks and other financial institutions are the biggest litigants in all the civil courts throughout the country. Likewise the state-owned transport corporation should take earnest steps to settle the motor accident cases through the Lok Adalat. the disputes could not be brought before the Lok Adalat straightaway. Though the Lak Adalat lends itself to easy settlement of money claims there is scope for settlement of other disputes as well. damages and matrimonial cases can be easily settled before Lok Adalat as the scope for compromise through an approach of give and take is high in these cases. the fee paid will be refunded if the dispute is settled at the Lok Adalat. They suggested that Lok Adalat shall take over the cases pending in the regular courts within their jurisdiction which are fit for settlement by conciliation and compromise. disputes can be brought before the Lok Adalat directly instead of going to a regular court first and then to the Lok Adalat. 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. It came into force in 1995 which gave Lok Adalat legal status and its decision is made final and binding on the parties. where they can get their disputes settled fast and free of cost. The credit for this change goes to the Bhagawati Committee based on whose report the Government of India enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.871 Lok Adalats held so far at various places in Tamil Nadu. If these cases were to be dealt with in regular courts or tribunal it would have taken years to decide them. Benefits many The benefits that litigants derive through the Lok Adalat are many. Generally the litigants are anxious to settle the disputes as early as possible.000 crores. The position has since been changed and Lok Adalat. However.178 cases were disposed of and the amount of compensation paid was more than Rs. Secondly there is no strict application of the procedural laws and the Evidence Act while assessing the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat.214 cases of land acquisition matters where the quantum of compensation alone was in dispute have been settled. the disputes can be taken before the Lok Adalat only if both parties agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the Lok Adalat. It is for these reasons Lok Adalat had gained importance in the legal system. But it is learnt that the transport corporations are not willing to settle the cases before the Lok Adalat. Thirdly. In the beginning the order of Lok Adalat had no legal sanction and cannot be put in execution through a court of law. a total number of 91. One important condition is that both parties in dispute should agree for settlement through Lok Adalat and abide by its decision. since it involves payment of money immediately. of which a substantial number of cases relate to small borrowers. 60. the Tamil Nadu Board had taken steps to organise Lok Adalat. Likewise more than 7. for the reasons best known to them the banks do not utilise the Lok Adalat scheme liberally. However. usually a lawyer and a social worker. 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. It is reported that in 4. Sensing the eagerness of the litigants to settle disputes amicably and speedily. there is no court fee and even if the case is already filed in the regular court. Further. has acquired legal status. which is not possible in a regular court of law. as in the case of civil courts. The most vital benefit under the said Act is that the decision of the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties to the dispute and its order is capable of execution through legal process. Disposal of a case through a regular court of law not only involves higher expenditure but also delay. The Lok Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judicial officer as the chairman. If the parties to a dispute are apprised of the legal position they may agree to settle it amicably. with two other members. Lok Adalats were also organised by the taluk and district committees. 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 therefor. 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.

SUBRAMANIAN .S. ARUNAJATESAN AND S.

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