Emergence of Lok Adalat as the most efficacious tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Lok Adalat has shown to be the most effective alternative dispute resolution instrument.
- In 2021, a total of 1,27,87,329 cases were resolved. Lok Adalats have reached the doorsteps of parties thanks to technology advancements such as E-Lok Adalats.
What are Lok Adalats?
- The title 'Lok Adalat,' which means 'People's Court,' is derived from Gandhian ideas.
- According to the Supreme Court, it is an ancient form of adjudicating system that existed in ancient India and whose validity has not been questioned even in current times.
- It is a component of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system that provides informal, low-cost, and quick justice to the general public.
- In Gujarat, the first Lok Adalat camp was established in 1982 as a voluntary and conciliatory organisation with no legal underpinning for its judgements.
- The Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 gave it statutory standing as a result of its growing popularity. The Act establishes rules for the creation and operation of the lok adalats.
- The State/District Legal Services Authority, the Supreme Court/High Court/Taluk Legal Services Committee, or the Supreme Court/High Court/Taluk Legal Services Committee may hold Lok Adalats at such intervals and locations as it sees fit, and for such purposes and regions as it sees suitable.
- Every Lok Adalat created for a particular area must include the number of serving or retired judicial officers, as well as other local residents, as determined by the organising body.
- A Lok Adalat is usually chaired by a judicial officer, with members including a lawyer (advocate) and a social worker.
- Lok Adalats are held by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and other legal services institutions.
- NALSA was established under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, which went into effect on November 9, 1995, to create a nationwide standard network for delivering free and competent legal services to the poor.
- In 2002, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was revised to allow for the establishment of Permanent Lok Adalats to handle matters involving public utility services.
Jurisdiction of Lok Adalats
- A Lok Adalat has the authority to determine and reach a compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in any case pending before a court, or in any matter that falls within the jurisdiction of a court but is not presented before it.
- Any court case can be submitted to the Lok Adalat for resolution if the parties agree to settle the disagreement in the Lok Adalat, one of the parties applies for referral of the case to the Lok Adalat, or the court determines that the matter can be resolved by a Lok Adalat.
- On receipt of an application from either of the parties to the disagreement, the subject can be submitted to the Lok Adalat in the case of a pre-litigation dispute.
- Lok Adalats deal with issues such as matrimonial/family conflicts, criminal (compoundable offences) cases, land acquisition cases, labour disputes, workmen's compensation cases, bank recovery cases, and so on.
- The Lok Adalat, on the other hand, has no jurisdiction over any case or matter involving an offence that is not punishable by law. In other words, offences that are not punishable under any law are not covered by the Lok Adalat.
- Under the Code of Civil Procedure, the Lok Adalat will have the same powers as a Civil Court (1908).
- A Lok Adalat will also have the authority to set its own method for resolving any dispute that comes before it.
- Every Lok Adalat shall be regarded to be a Civil Court for the purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and all proceedings before a Lok Adalat shall be understood to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code (1860). (1973).
- A Lok Adalat award is believed to be a Civil Court decree or an order from any other court.
- There is no court charge, and if one has been paid, it will be repaid if the case is resolved through Lok Adalat.
- There is procedural flexibility, as well as a quick resolution of issues. When evaluating Lok Adalat's claim, there is no rigorous adherence of procedural laws.
- In contrast to traditional courts of law, the parties to the dispute can interact directly with the judge through their counsel.
- The Lok Adalat's award is binding on the parties and has the character of a civil court order. It is also non-appealable, thus it does not prolong the final resolution of problems.