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
pre-trial 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 was very much 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, Shir 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
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 refrence.
3 Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate
one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat.
4 Compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of
justice, equity, fairplay 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.
After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties,
award is passed by the conciliators. The matter need not be
reffered 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
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.
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 Requistioning of Public record.
Hon’ble Delhi High Court has given a landmark decision
highlighting the significance of Lok Adalat movement. It has far
Landmark Decision of Hon’ble Delhi High Court AIR 1999 Delhi
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.
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