Lok Adalat is a forum where the cases (or disputes) which are pending in a court
Which are at pre-litigation stage (not yet brought before a court) are compromised or settled in an amicable(मैत्रूर्) manner.
Supreme Court has explained the meaning of Lok Adalat in the following way:
‘Lok Adalat’ is an old form of system prevailed in ancient India and it’s validity has not been taken away even in the modern days too.
Word ‘Lok Adalat’ means ‘People’s Court’->Based on Gandhian principles.
It is one of the components of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) system.
As the Indian courts are overburdened with the backlog of cases and
Regular courts are to decide cases involving a lengthy, expensive and tedious procedure.
Lok Adalat, therefore, provides alternative resolution or devise for expedious and inexpensive justice
First Lok Adalat camp in the post-independence era was organized in Gujarat in 1982.
This initiative proved very successful in the settlement of disputes.
Consequently, the institution of Lok Adalat started spreading to other parts of the country.
Given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
Act makes the following provisions relating to
Functioning of the Lok Adalats
State Legal Services Authority or the District Legal Services Authority or the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or the High Court Legal Services Committee or the Taluk Legal Services Committee may organize Lok Adalats at such intervals and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it thinks fit
Consist of such number of serving or retired judicial officers and other persons of the area as may be specified by the agency organizing such Lok Adalat
Generally, a Lok Adalat consists of a judicial officer as the chairman and a lawyer (advocate) and a social worker as members.
Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction
(i) Any case pending before any court; o
(ii) Any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of any court and is not brought before such court.
Matters such as Matrimonial / Family Disputes, Criminal (Compoundable Offences) cases, Land Acquisition cases, Labour disputes, Workmen’s compensation cases, Bank Recovery cases, Pension cases, Housing Board and Slum Clearance cases, Housing Finance cases, Consumer Grievance cases, Electricity matters, Disputes relating to Telephone Bills, Municipal matters including House Tax cases, Disputes with Cellular Companies etc. are being taken up
in Lok Adalats
Lok Adalat shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any case or matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law
Any case pending before the court can be referred to the Lok Adalat for settlement if :
(i) The parties thereof agree to settle the dispute in the Lok Adalat; or
(ii) One of the parties thereof makes an application to the court, for referring the case to the Lok Adalat; or
(iii) The court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat.
Lok Adalat shall have the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure (1908)
Lok Adalat shall have the requisite powers to specify its own procedure for the determination of any dispute coming before it
Every award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute. No appeal shall lie to any court against the award of the Lok Adalat.
No court fee
If court fee is already paid the amount will be refunded if the dispute is settled at Lok Adalat
Not Complex-No strict procedural laws like the Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act
Parties to the dispute can directly interact with the judge through
Award by the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties- Not cause the delay in the settlement
Law Commission of India summarized the advantages of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) in the following way
1. It is less expensive
2. It is less time-consuming
3. It is free from technicalities vis-à-vis conducting of cases in law courts
4. Parties are free to discuss their differences of opinion without any fear of disclosure before any law courts.
5. Parties have the feeling that there is no losing or winning side between them but at the same time their grievance is redressed and their relationship is restored
Permanent Lok Adalats
Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was amended in 2002 to provide for the establishment of the Permanent Lok Adalats to deal with cases pertaining to the public utility services
Free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society
Legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.
Spirit of conciliation(समझौता) outside the courts
The major drawback- Based on compromise or settlement between the parties
If the parties do not arrive at any compromise or settlement, the case is returned to the court of law- Unnecessary delay
Cases which arise in relation to public utility services such as Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Delhi Vidyut Board, etc., need to be settled urgently
Therefore, proposed to amend the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to set up Permanent Lok Adalats
Features of the new institution of Permanent Lok Adalats
Permanent Lok Adalat shall consist of a Chairman who is or has been a district judge or additional district judge or has held judicial office higher in rank than that of the district judge and two other persons having Sadequate experience in public utility services
Permanent Lok Adalat shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of one or more public utility services such as transport services of passengers or goods by air, road and water; postal
Jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be up to rupees ten lakhs
Not jurisdiction in respect of any matter relating to an offence not compoundable
Permanent Lok Adalat that there exist elements of a settlement
Every award made by the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties thereto and shall be by a majority of the persons constituting the Permanent Lok Adalat
Pdf of the Lecture :
Video Lecture by Veer Talyan :