"Democracy is a Government of the people, by the people and for the people.
This famous quote is said by Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United
States), if will link it to the Lok Adalat, we can say that Lok Adalat is simply
a court of the people, by the people and for the people.
As the number of cases
increasing day-by-day it becomes difficult for the courts to cope up with the
gaps which results in increase in the number of pending cases in the Indian
Judiciary. Lok Adalat is one of the foundation which has been developed as a
most important modes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system in India.
As people live together in the society, conflicts, problems and disputes arises
so to resolve them in the courts, efforts, money and valuable time is much
needed. The judicial system is overflowing with the numerous cases which
requires time and too much efforts in order to get justice.
So to resolve this
problems and disputes which has arisen, Alternative Dispute Resolution is practised in India in the form of Lok Adalat. The methods like Arbitration.
Mediation and Conciliation are in most use, instead of going for litigation in
the Courts to resolve disputes and Lok Adalat is considered as a blend of these
three forms of traditional ADR systems.
Lok Adalat And Its Origin
Lok Adalat is prevailing from ancient India and is considered as an old form of
adjudicating. Nyaya Panchayats and Gram Panchayats exists there for resolving
conflicts in village or rural areas on an immediate basis which is seen as a
long history of resolving disputes through the mediation of village elders.
introducing Lok Adalats, a new chapter is added in the dispensation of justice
and it succeeded in providing a forum to the victims for adequate or sufficient
settlements of their disputes. Lok Adalat is also called as " People's Court",
which is based on Gandhian principles. Due to overburden of cases, the regular
courts sometimes take years to settle even petty cases.
The Lok Adalat is
successful and fruitful because of its economic system, speedy relief,
inexpensive justice and wide acceptance from public and lawful authority. It
gives informal, cheap, quick and prompt justice to a commoner by way or method
of settling disputes.
Statutory Status Of Lok Adalat In India
Article-39A was inserted in the Indian Constitution by way of 42nd Amendment
Act of the Constitution, which provides equal justice and free Legal Aid to the
poor and needy. The Article reads as "the state shall secure that the operation
of legal system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunity, and shall,
in particular, provide free Legal Aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in
any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied
to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities."
The term "shall"
was used in the Article- 39A which makes it compulsory and mandatory to be
followed by the state. The Lok Adalat is designed to promote justice which is
Social, Economic, Political and give "Access to Justice"- an ability to
participate in the judicial process.
Initial camps of Lok Adalat were started in Gujarat at Junagadh district in the
year 1982, and this initiative proved to be very successful in the settlement of
disputes. This programme was soon adopted by several other states such as,
Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka etc and gained popularity by spreading to other
parts of the country. As a result, The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 has
been enacted by the Parliament which has given the statutory recognition to the
Lok Adalats in India. The Act is a combined enactment covering Legal Aid and Lok
Adalat, and focus at providing free and capable legal services to weaker
sections of the community.
Powers, Functions And Jurisdiction Of The Lok Adalats
The Taluk Legal Services Committee or the High Court Legal
Services Committee or the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or the State or
the District Legal Services Authority may organise Lok Adalats periodically at
such places and timings for exercising such jurisdiction and for such area as it
thinks fit or as they determine.
The Lok Adalat shall consist of a Chairman and two members, and
one social worker. The Chairman must be a sitting or retired judicial officer,
and other two members should be a lawyer (Advocate).
Jurisdiction:- The Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to determine the cases that
are pending before any Court, or any other matter which is falling within the
jurisdiction of any court and not brought before such Court earlier. The case
pending before the court can be referred to Lok Adalat if:
- both the parties agreed to settle the dispute in Lok Adalat or,
- if one of the parties makes an appeal to the court referring the case to Lok
- if the court thinks fit that the matter is suitable for Lok Adalat.
If the case is in the pre- litigation stage, the matter can be referred to Lok
Adalat for settlement, if a request is made from any one of the parties to the
Cases taken up in the Lok Adalats:
Matrimonial or Family disputes, Compoundable
criminal cases, Land Acquisition cases, Bank recovery and unpaid loan cases,
Bonded labour cases, compensation claims of Motor Accident and workmen,
Electricity matters, Pension cases, Consumer grievances cases, Housing Finance
cases, Slum clearance cases, Cellular Companies and Telephone Bill disputes,
Municipal matters including House Tax cases etc.
There shall be no jurisdiction of Lok Adalat to give judgement in respect of any
matter or case which is not covered under any law. In other words, the cases
which are non-compoundable under any law fall outside the purview of Lok Adalat.
Lok Adalat have same powers as Civil Court have under the
Code of Civil Procedure (1908) while attempting a suit in respect of
- To summon and enforce the presence of any witness and to examine him/her on pledge;
- The finding and making of any document;
- The reception of verification on affidavits;
- To further question of any open record or document from any court; and
- Such other issues or matters as may be prescribed or recommended.
Lok Adalat also have power to clear or determine its decision making procedure
of any dispute coming before it and the decision made by Lok Adalat is
considered to be a verdict of a Civil Court and is ultimate and binding on all
parties. No appeal shall lie to any Court against the award or verdict of Lok
How Lok Adalat Is Helpful In Present Scenario?
As Lok Adalat is conducted at suitable places, they can be arranged fastly and
in local languages, which provides a speedy justice even to the illiterates.
The parties which are involved in the disputes can have direct interaction with
the Judge through their advocate which is not possible in general courts of law.
If we talk about the fees, no Court fees charged in the Lok Adalat, and if fees
is paid already, the amount will be refunded if the dispute is settled in Lok
Adalat, which is helpful for the people who are not financially stable and want
to seek justice free of cost.
Most of the people prefer to resolve their dispute outside the court, they fear
of Court litigation due to delay in the procedure. Thus, in Lok Adalat dispute
settlement takes place outside the court.
The Lok Adalat results in the compromise between the parties, it acts as a
conciliater. Principles of natural justice which is accessible to everyone is
the main aim in the formation of Lok Adalat. As disputes are resolved amicably
the cordial relations between the parties are maintained and their relationship
is restored. Thus, it can be considered as healthy manner or method of dispute
resolution in India.
Suggestions And Conclusion
Most of the population in India is illiterate, which seek justice from general
courts of law for which they have to pay huge costs, for this situation Lok
Adalat can be seen as an effective and strong legal service for Poor and needy
Lok Adalat become an effective part of India and it is high time to bring such
disputes and matters under the jurisdiction of Lok Adalat which do not fall
under its domain.
There is a need to modify the current model of Lok Adalat and include disputes
like Business disputes which involve public at large, under its jurisdiction. To
expand the proficiency of the organisation of Lok Adalats, it is important for
people, the legal advisors, the officials and the Judiciary to work amicably and
in coordination. The general public to be made mindful of the upsides of the Lok
The concept of Lok Adalat proved to be a success in practice as it adopts the
idea of "equal access to justice" which is the necessity in a country like
India. To achieve Gandhian principles of Gram Swaraj, more and more number of
Lok Adalats needs to be organised.
Written By: Kriti Rathore
, Pursuing BALLB (4th Year) From School Of
Law, DAVV, Indore.