File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Lok Adalats As One Of The Effective Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods

Equality of justice is a fundamental aspect of the judicial system of our nation. We cannot conceive of justice which is not fair and equal, or being indiscriminate. It is embedded in the Indian principles of justice (dharma). It is asserted in the Magna Carta, in the Charter of Liberties that no man will be denied or delayed, justice or right. But this great principle was not instantly translated into reality.

Effective access to justice has thus come to be the most basic human right, in modern legal systems, which not merely proclaim legal rights to all but also guarantees them. Lok Adalat is proved to be one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms. It has become a forum where disputes & cases pending in the court of law are settled amicably. Lok Adalats have been given statutory status in India, and their decision is deemed to be binding on all the parties involved.

A process called alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like mediation, arbitration, conciliation, or negotiation is used to settle pending conflicts beyond the courtroom. ADR procedures are generally speedy and inexpensive in comparison to litigation. The ADR strategy has been adopted by both developed and developing nations in the present times. This process is centered, comprehensive and adaptable in nature and is generally liked by countries like United States and India, according to recent studies.

Lately, Lok Adalat's resolution method has been viewed as an effective and efficient ADR remedy for justice in its broadest sense of successful dispute resolution. Whether in legal proceedings or other forms of dispute resolution, it is a pivotal element in making sure that basic rights are honoured and defended by varied constitutions from varied countries, to put it more precisely. In other circumstances, ADR involves methods that lets parties resolve their differences informally.

ADR is a process that is different from judicial decision-making, and it simply entails an unprejudiced individual helping parties who are in conflict to resolve the issue between themselves. Likewise, it may be claimed that ADR offers a quick, cost-effective, pertinent, fair, and fair manner of addressing the issues at hand.

Lok Adalat is held by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and other legal services authorities like the District and State Legal Services Authorities. It is one of the alternative dispute resolution processes, a forum for cases that are pending in court or are in the primary stages of suit. The Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 gave a legal status to Lok Adalats. The Lok Adalat system assures justice and equal opportunity for everyone involved. Its native legal services authorities are responsible for furnishing free and competent legal services for poorer sections of society to guarantee the chances for securing justice aren't denied to any citizen due to monetary or other disabilities.

In Sonu vs. M/s DTC it was decided that since working days of the workman with the management was less than 240 days in the preceding year whereas the actual working-period was about 4-5 months, full and final settlement to the workman was provided after persuasion by the court as well as by the Authorized Representatives for both the parties and hence, which workman ultimately agreed to and the matter got settled.

The idea of Lok Adalat is an outstanding contribution of our nation to the word "justice". Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice system of this country and succeeded in delivering a supplementary forum to the victims for a mutual agreement of their differences. This system is grounded on Gandhian principles. It is one of the constituents of alternative dispute resolution systems. In ancient times, the differences were referred to "Panchayats", which were established at village areas. Panchayats resolved the differences through arbitration. It has proved to be a genuinely effective counter to suit.

History of Lok Adalat Movement

The concept of Lok Adalat dates back to the British era. It serves as an effective substitute to litigation. The origin of Lok Adalat can be traced back to Gujarat in March 1982 and from there it eventually spread to other parts of the country. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 gave a statutory authority to Lok Adalats and mandates to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society and ensure that justice is served, to every citizens, irrespective of their social and economic status, according to Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution.

By the 2002 amendment to the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987, the creation of a permanent Lok Adalat for the provision of public utility services was mandated. The Act states that the award passed by the Lok Adalat is to be considered the same as a decree of a civil court and likewise is final and binding on all the parties involved.

There is no provision of an appeal against such an award. In the case of Sukanya Holdings Pvt. Ltd. vs. Jayesh H. Pandya the Supreme Court emphasized the final and binding nature of the awards passed by Lok Adalats. The parties may still proceed with litigation in case they are unsatisfied by the award passed by a Lok Adalat by moving the court with the appropriate jurisdiction and filing a case and following the necessary steps, as long as they are acting within their right to litigate.

The Lok Adalat movement evolved as part of the strategy to reduce the pendency of the Courts and to provide fair and just relief to the litigants. The parties are not represented by the lawyers but rather present their views in front of a judge who helps in arriving at amicable settlement. No fee is paid by the parties, and it is informal in nature. No strict rules of Civil Procedural Code or Evidence Act are followed.

The following types of disputes are generally settled by a Lok Adalat:

  1. Mutation of land cases.
  2. Compoundable criminal offences.
  3. Family disputes.
  4. Encroachment on forest lands.
  5. Land acquisition disputes.
  6. Motor accident claim,
  7. Cases which are not sub-judice.
Lok Adalats must strive for the cause of social justice and devote their time and services for its success. They are generally organized in the premises of courts. Lok Adalat are good substitutes for setting aside cases which are pending in superior courts and to reduce pendency. Owing to the success of Lok Adalats at the district level, the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSA) have started organizing Lok Adalats at the state level, and at the centre by the National Legal Services Authorities (NALSA) by the Supreme Court. Lok Adalat is celebrated as festivals of justice for people since they do not always necessarily follow legal principles. Instead it focuses on:
  1. Social goals like ending quarrels
  2. Restoring family peace
  3. Providing succour for destitute.

Functions of the Lok Adalat:

Lok Adalat accepts cases which come within their competence and capability of disposal. In the beginning they entertained only a few selected matters like motor vehicle accident causes and appeals connected with them. It was expected that the Lok Adalats accept other causes as well, such as tenure matters, money causes, so that such disputes are settled on personal bonds or undertakings. This would indicate the fact that in the matters of dispute resolution, India is back to its traditional ways. But even after so many experiences it could be seen that it is not easy to bring the parties together to negotiate under some kind of compromise involving mutual settlement.

Many a times, legal cases are such that one of the parties is interested in continuing with litigation, while the other wants a speedy trial. By this approach the state would save many costs of needless and meaningless administration. The government is the bearer of all direct and indirect costs of litigation. Direct costs include court and lawyers' fees, prosecution cost and other expenses related with court proceedings. Indirect costs include the time lost in disputes and the mental anguish caused by the hectic methods employed by the courts.

There are various types of government related litigation in which Lok Adalats can play a crucial role. One such category is land acquisition matters. Generally poor villagers and the middle class are among those whose land is acquired by the government. When their land is taken away, they naturally expect that compensation should be provided as soon as possible. In an important case of State of Punjab & Ors. vs. Jalour Singh & Ors. Hon'ble Supreme Court emphasized on the importance of Lok Adalats in reducing the pendency of cases in courts.

Disciplinary proceedings are another type of government litigation which could be handled through Lok Adalats. Most of the proceedings under this category involves such disputes which are very simple, the backdrop is not confusing and there are no complexities but the parties are unable to avail any remedies and the limitation factor approaches. Other cases include withholding of pension and other retirement allowances, and labour disputes involving disciplinary proceedings where Lok Adalats can play a major role. The provisions of conciliation and mediation available under labour laws have been generally successful in resolving petty misunderstandings.

Other forms of Lok-Adalats:

  1. Mini Lok Adalat: Legal aid camps or Lok-Adalats at rural areas and in villages are like forums, especially to cater to backward and tribal people without much problems and conveniently.
  2. Village Courts: These are considered as the units of self-government that are somewhat like village Panchayats dealing with issues, giving rise to village courts under articles 40 of our Indian Constitution.
  3. Mediation Centre's: First mediating centres were started in the year 1983 in Tamil Nadu which provided legal aid and worked as an advice Board.
  4. Centres for women: To give a special status to women and their exclusive problems Tamil Nadu state gave thrust and expansion to exclusive women mediation centres by aiding them with matrimonial disputes. They promote rights of women family matters in cases like:
    • Voluntary agencies
    • Professionals
  5. Mobile Lok Adalats 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.
The need for creating awareness about Lok Adalats and encouraging parties to participate voluntarily in the resolution of disputes through alternative mechanisms has been emphasized by our hon'ble Supreme Cour in many of its judgements stating the importance of ADR and other dispute resolution methods.

Review of Literature
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, believed in people's participation and decentralised justice. He rightly said that his idea of village Swaraj is complete republic, independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants and yet beeng interdependent for many others in which dependence is a necessity. The government of the village will be conducted by the Panchayat of five persons annually elected by the villagers, male and female, possessing minimum prescribed qualifications. Panchayat will be the combination of all legislature, judiciary and executive in every village itself and with such initiative any village can become a such a republic today without much interference.

Legal aid as a human right is implicit in Article 7,8 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right and more particular, it flows clearly and inevitably from clause 3(d) of Article 14 of International Convention on Civil and political Rights. The Universal Declaration also reads that everyone has a fundamental right of an affective remedy by the competent national tribunal for any such acts violating the fundamental rights which are granted by constitution of India.

The Law commission of India, in its Fourteenth Report prepared under the chairmanship of Shri M.C. Setalvad was former Attorney General of India he had views of equal laws for all and believed equality is the should be the basis of all modern system of administration of justice and jurisprudence, in so far as a person who is unable to access to a court of law for having his wrong redressal, justice in such case become unequal and the laws which are meant for our protection then have no meaning and to some extent fail in their purpose. Unless some provision is made for assisting the poor man for the payment of court fees and lawyer's fees and other incidental costs of litigation, he is denied equality in the opportunity to seek justice.

When Lok Adalat is to be approached?

According to section 18(1) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, Lok Adalats have been given the authority to settle any matters between the parties to the dispute and decide them, which include:
  1. Any cases that are pending currently in the court,
  2. Any matter that comes under the jurisdiction of any court for which the Lok Adalat is set up but is not brought up with that court.
With the stipulation that our Lok Adalat lacks jurisdiction over divorce-related issues or any such issues which involv crimes that are not punishable by a lawful punishment for repeat offenses.

In case of Board of Trustees of the Port of Vishakhapatnam v. Presiding Officer Andhra Pradesh high court held that the judgment of a Lok Adalat will be is final and binding and will be enforceable as a decree. It's goal is to make sure that the matter is settled by mutual agreement and that a compromise is reached so that the parties will not have to seek additional litigation in the future. In spite of not being the result of a proper courtroom litigation with examination of evidences and facts, the award given by a Lok Adalat will be final and binding as the decree of a civil court, against which no provision of appeal exists.

There Are Various Benefits Of Lok Adalat System:

  • It is an inexpensive dispute resolution system which does not involve any court fee. If in case the court fee is paid during the course of litigation, it will be refunded once the matter is settled by a Lok Adalat.
  • Under lok Adalat system the procedures are more flexible in order to resolve the disputes. No strict laws are followed while the claim is assessed by Lok Adalat. It is an informal process.
  • Direct interaction between the parties, with the aid of their counsel, and the judge is possible, unlike in a regular court of law.
  • The award by the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties and it has the status of a decree of a civil court and it is non-appealable, which allows the settlement of disputes finally without delay.

Lok Adalat is very effective in settling claims related with money. Matrimonial disputes, partition and damage claims also come under the jurisdiction of Lok Adalat, as compromise can easily be reached between the parties through give and take. Lok Adalat can handle civil suits like marital and family disputes and also criminal suits for compoundable offences. It is needless to say that in the present scenario, the alternative dispute resolution system of Lok Adalat Movement is one of the components and has assumed great importance in recent times.

The Lok Adalat system has become a regular feature and a living and continuous movement. Day by day, large number of even private litigants are getting their cases disposed off in Lok Adalats. The general populace nowadays has become quite aware of their rights and avail ADR for speedy and efficient disposal of their disputes. It would thus be clear that the Lok Adalat Movement has become feasible, constructive and effective ADR system. Written By: Haseeb Khan and Navya Yadav
Students of Amity Law School, Amity University Lucknow Uttar Pradesh

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly