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Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area

Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area

What Is A Lok Adalat?

  • The concept of Lok Adalat (People’s Court) is an innovative Indian contribution to the world jurisprudence.
  • The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the victims for a satisfactory settlement of their disputes.
  • This system is based on Gandhian principles.
  • It is one of the components of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) systems.
  • In ancient times, the disputes were referred to “Panchayats”, which were established at the village level.
  • Panchayats resolved the disputes through arbitration. It has proved to be a very effective alternative to litigation.
  • The First Lok Adalat was held in Gujarat in 1982.
  • Lok Adalat accepts the cases pending in the regular courts within their jurisdiction which could be settled by conciliation and compromise.
  • This concept of the settlement of disputes through mediation, negotiation or arbitration is conceptualized and institutionalized in the philosophy of Lok Adalat.
  • It involves people who are directly or indirectly affected by dispute resolution.

Background

  • 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 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 ADR mechanisms and most suited to the Indian environment, culture and societal interests.

Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987

  • 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.
  • It contains various provisions for settlement of disputes through Lok Adalat.
  • This Act mandates constitution of legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.
  • It also mandates organization of Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
  • 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.
  • The evolution of movement called Lok Adalat 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.                               (Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area)
  • It contains various provisions for settlement of disputes through Lok Adalat.

Statutory Provisions

  • The Central Government, taking note of the need for legal aid for the poor and the needy, had introduced Article 39 (A) in the Constitution in February 1977.
  • 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 understood in mandatory terms. This is made more than clear by the use of the 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 ensure 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 Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 has been enacted by the Parliament. One of the aims of this Act is to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
  • Chapter VI of the Act deals with Lok Adalats. The Act created National, State and District Legal Service Authorities with the power to organize Lok Adalats.
  • The poor and resourceless persons need justice, they require for that, an access to justice.
  • Mere recognition of rights does not help them, without providing for necessary infrastructure to secure them justice whenever needed.
  • Even if the infrastructure is created, if he does not get the ‘legal aid’ to reach it, the purpose of entire justice system suffers a defeat.

Salient features of Lok Adalat

  • It is based on settlement or compromise reached through systematic negotiations.
  • It is one among the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) systems. It is an alternative to “Judicial Justice”.
  • It is a win – win system where all the parties to the dispute have something to gain.
  • The award can be passed by Lok Adalat, only after obtaining the assent of all the parties to dispute.
  • The parties to a dispute can interact directly with the presiding officer, which is not possible in the case of a court proceeding.
  • It is economical – No court fee is payable. If any court fee is paid, it will be refunded.
  • A Permanent Lok Adalat can pass an award on merits, even without the consent of parties. Such an award is final and binding. From that no appeal is possible.
  • Lok Adalat is having certain powers of a civil court.
  • Lok Adalat is deemed to be civil court for certain purposes.
  • An award passed by the Lok Adalat is final and no appeal is maintainable from it.
  • The award passed by the Lok Adalat is deemed to be a decree of a civil court.
  • An award passed by the Lok Adalat can be executed in a court.
  • The appearance of lawyers on behalf of the parties, at the Lok Adalat is not barred. (Regulation 39 of the Kerala State Legal Services Authority Regulations, 1998.
  • Code of Civil Procedure and Indian Evidence Act are not applicable to the proceedings of Lok Adalat.

Jurisdiction of Lok Adalats  | Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area

  • A Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of:
    • Any case pending before; or
    • Any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of, and is not brought before, any court for which the lok adalat is organized.
    • The lok adalat can compromise and settle even criminal cases, which are compoundable under the relevant laws.

Cases Suitable For Lok Adalats

Lok Adalats have competence to deal with a number of cases like:

  • Compoundable civil, revenue and criminal cases.
  • Motor accident compensation claims cases
  • Partition Claims
  • Damages Cases
  • Matrimonial and family disputes
  • Mutation of lands case
  • Land Pattas cases
  • Bonded Labour cases
  • Land acquisition disputes
  • Bank’s unpaid loan cases
  • Arrears of retirement benefits cases
  • Family Court cases
  • Cases which are not sub-judice

Need For Lok Adalats  | Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area

  • Justice Ramaswamy says: “ Resolving disputes through Lok Adalat not only minimizes litigation expenditure, it saves valuable time of the parties and their witnesses and also facilitates inexpensive and prompt remedy appropriately to the satisfaction of both the parties”
  • Law Courts in India face mainly four problems:
    • The number of courts and judges in all grades are alarmingly inadequate
    • Increase in flow of cases in recent years due to multifarious Acts enacted by the Central and State Governments
    • The high cost involved in prosecuting or defending a case in a court of law, due to heavy court fee, lawyer’s fee and incidental charges
    • Delay in disposal of cases resulting in huge pendency in all the courts
  • Lok Adalat has a positive contributory role in the administration of justice.
  • It supplements the efforts and work of the courts.
  • Area of contribution chosen for the purpose specially concerns and helps the common man, the poor, backward and the needy-most sections of the society.

National Lok Adalat

  • National Level Lok Adalats are held for at regular intervals where on a single day Lok Adalats are held throughout the country, in all the courts right from the Supreme Court till the Taluk Levels wherein cases are disposed off in huge numbers.

Permanent Lok Adalat

  • The other type of Lok Adalat is the Permanent Lok Adalat, organized under Section 22-B of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • Permanent Lok Adalats have been set up as permanent bodies with a Chairman and two members for providing compulsory pre-litigative mechanism for conciliation and settlement of cases relating to Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph etc. Here, even if the parties fail to reach to a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat gets jurisdiction to decide the dispute, provided, the dispute does not relate to any offence.                           (Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area)
  • Further, the Award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is final and binding on all the parties. The jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalats is upto Rs. Ten Lakhs. Here if the parties fail to reach to a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to decide the case.
  • The award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is final and binding upon the parties.
  • The Lok Adalat may conduct the proceedings in such a manner as it considers appropriate, taking into account the circumstances of the case, wishes of the parties like requests to hear oral statements, speedy settlement of dispute etc.

Mobile Lok Adalats

  • They are also organized in various parts of the country which travel from one location to another to resolve disputes in order to facilitate the resolution of disputes through this mechanism.

Advantages Of Lok Adalats

  • Speedy Justice And Saving From The Lengthy Court Procedures
  • Justice At No Cost
  • Solving Problems Of Backlog Cases
  • Maintenance Of Cordial Relations

Conclusion | Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area

  • Objective of Lok Adalat is to settle the disputes which are pending before the courts, by negotiations, conciliation and by adopting persuasive common sense and human approach to the problems of the disputants.
  • 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.
  • (Lok Adalat And Revitalising Rural Area)

 

 

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