Lok Adalat: Mechanism and Measures for Effective and Actual Work to Add Value
NALSA alongside other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats. Lok Adalat is one of the alternate dispute redressal instruments, it is where debates/cases pending in the courtroom or at pre-case stage are settled/bargained agreeably. Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
Under the said Act, the award (decision) by the Lok Adalats is regarded to be a decree of a civil court and is conclusive and official on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies under the watchful eye of any courtroom. In the event that the parties are not happy with the award of the Lok Adalat however there is no arrangement for an appeal against such an award, yet they are allowed to start suit by moving toward the court of fitting ward by recording a case by following the required system, in exercise of their right to litigate.
The cutting edge thought of Lok-Adalat was chiefly proposed and actualized by Justice P.N. Bhagwati, Former Chief Justice of India. Lok-Adalat is a non-adversarial system of resolving disputes, whereby courts (called Lok-Adalats) are organised by the National Legal Service Authority, State Legal Service Authority, District Legal Services Authority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee and Taluk Legal Services Committee, as the case may be. These Lok-Adalats are composed normally on indicated specified dates and have purview according to law to take up reasonable issues/matters for transfer.
There is no court fee payable when an issue is documented/filed in a Lok Adalat. In the event that an issue pending in the courtroom is alluded to the Lok Adalat and is settled in this manner, the court fee initially paid in the court on the objections/request is likewise refunded back to the parties. The people deciding the cases in the Lok Adalats are known as the Members of the Lok Adalats, they
have the job of statutory conciliators just and don’t have any judicial job; along these lines they can just influence the parties to arrive at a resolution for settling the matter outside the court in the Lok Adalat and will not pressurize or force any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either straightforwardly or in a roundabout way.
As per section 18(1) of the Act, a Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of –
(1) Any case pending before; or
(2) Any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of, and is not brought before, any court for which the Lok Adalat is organised.
Provided that the Lok Adalat shall have no jurisdiction in respect of matters relating to divorce or matters relating to an offence not compoundable under any law.
Lok Adalat is empowered while trying a suit given under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 with respect to the following matters:-
Power to summon and enforce the attendance of any witness and to examine him/her under oath.
Powers to enforce the discovery and production of any document
Powers to receive evidence on affidavits
Power for requisitioning of any public record or document or copy thereof, from any court.
Every Lok Adalat shall have the power to specify its own procedure for the determination of any dispute coming before it.
Lok Adalats have the power to solve criminal cases under the provisions of The Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The term ‘Lok Adalat’ is a Hindi word. In other words, it can be called ‘People’s Court’. The word ‘Lok’ means People in general terms, while the word ‘Adalat’ denotes the courts. Lok Adalat is hence a court for the people or rather for the benefit of people. It is an instrument or simply a medium to address the grievances of people and delivering speedy justice.
Lok Adalat was conceptualised to due to the drawbacks of Indian justice delivering system. It was a means to provide effective, efficient and low-cost justice.
It is a know fact to all that justice delayed is justice denied. With such a large pendency of cases before the Indian Judicial System and because of delay in getting justice, it was the need of society to develop mechanism for speedy trials and other quasi-judicial bodies and alternative dispute redressal mechanism.
Lok Adalat is a perfect blend of the three Alternate Dispute Mechanism- Arbitration, Mediation & Conciliation.
Lok Adalat as the name suggests is meant all for benefit of people, but what benefit would it reap if the beneficiaries are unaware of benefits they could get?
The basic and most important issue or drawback with Lok Adalat is the lack of awareness about the same amongst people. They hardly know about the functioning and procedures involved, because of this very reason instead of getting their disputes resolved expeditiously in Lok Adalat, they’ll rather go to the lowest step of Indian Judicial System.
Along with the fact of unawareness, comes the problem of lack of support. It is a common issue in India that laws are indeed framed but their implementation is far from being done. Lok Adalat too though have been established but their functioning and support to them is yet to be received.
Frequency in conduct of Lok Adalat is another issue, as at places where it’s being conducted frequently though indicates awareness, it raises pendency in front of the system. The effectiveness that is being sought is not achieved.
Another issue is the response of advocates, who are of view that if their cases got dissolved in Lok-Adalat they would lose their client and briefs and thus sustain financial losses.
Also, the serving the summon/notice timely is one of major issue for. Untimely serving of notice/summon effects attendance of parties which further effects and delays the disposal of cases.
First set of reform or suggestion would be related to proper and wide publicity of Lok Adalats so as to raise awareness among people. Camps, Nukkad Nataks,etc. could be organised to bring it to the notice of people. This publicity should be region specific meaning it should bring knowledge to the people in their own words and language. This connects and intrigues people more that giving out speeches in language that they could hardly comprehend. Merits of the system be bought to their notice along with the benefits they could receive being low cost, speedy disposal, etc. this is sure to grab their attention and encourage them to employ the means.
Secondly, Quantity won’t give fruitful results rather it is the quality that matters. Too much frequency in conducting Lok Adalat diminishes the quality results. Fewer Lok Adalat with better preparations would be much better and give out encouraging results. Getting too many cases in there should not be the end, Lok Adalat is a means while end should be giving out apt justice or relief in speedy manner.
Next recommendation would be regarding bringing co-ordination and co-operation between the Bar, Prosecution and Governmental Departments. For better and Positive outcome, it is very necessary. For support raises the result. Help of local governmental authorities along with police can be a major factor that helps better functioning of Lok Adalats. Without this support Lok Adalat being helpful means to Lower judiciary will still be a challenge. This selfishness needs to be put to an end, for this is a great obstacle in the judicial system, for one’s own motive justice to another is affected.
Lok Adalat as we know are held on mixed subjects. This diversity of subject is an issue for managing. Rather if Lok Adalats are being organised over a particular subject at a particular time this will help give better outcome for specialisation gives better result than diversification which is a well know principle. Further, this will simply help in keeping track of cases and maintain statistics and records and the success of Lok Adalats.
Infrastructure is another important subject that needs attention. If better results are to be sought then proper infrastructure in form of offices, vehicles, buildings, etc. is to be provided.
Another and one most important Recommendation would be the use of technology. Technology is the one of the greatest boons that time and today’s society has bought to man. Use of technology should be made compulsory. Using computers to store information won’t just lessen the paper work but also the work load. It would be a better means to store information. Alongside getting mobile numbers of party and giving updates over phone will not just bring reform to the present system but will also be helpful in raising confidence of parties in the system and regular attendance of parties as summons and notices could also be served over phones.
In this way Lok Adalat would surely be able to help Lower Judiciary and add to some value to the judicial system.
Nalsa.gov.in. 2020. Lok Adalat. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2020].
Author Details: Kratika Joshi (Amity Law School, Amity University Rajasthan)