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Lok Adalat should be permanently established in each District of India as an

Organization body instead of organizing like an occasional event.

Lok adalat literally means Peoples court. Lok is the hindi word for people and Adalat is used
for denoting Courts. As we know, there is a plethora of cases pending in our courts, one of the
main reason being that procedure takes a lot of time and until expressly proved or disproved, a
point is continuously debated upon. In situation like this, Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mechanisms proves to be very useful process. Lok Adalats are one of the most successful forms
of alternative Dispute settlement. These Adalats were established with two aims in the mind, first
being relieving the courts from heavy workload due to large number of cases and secondly to
provide people with an alternative method of dispute resolution (ADR). These courts dispense
cases in form of summary trials without going in too much legal technicalities.

This Essay aims at explaining how Lok Adalats can be a very powerful aid in lessening the
burden of Indian courts and how their permanent establishment in each district of the country can
cater to ever increasing need of establishing more courts in the country.

Lok Adalats are an Indian innovation. Some trace the evolution of this concept way back to vedic
era. Such a system has also been referred in ancient treaties of Yajnavalkya, Brishaspati and
Kautilya . This system is said to be entirely disrupted by advent of britishers in India. However,
Post-independence ,this system was resumed. The first Lok Adalat took place on 14th march,
1982 in Junagarh in state of Gujarat. In the same year the Lok Adalats were extended to the
states of Maharashta, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. Now they have been extended to all over the
country.

Article 39-A of our constitution introduces Right to free Legal aid. This article has ordained the
state to secure a legal system which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunities. Use of
shall shows presence of mandate. On the same lines, Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 was
enacted. Chapter 6 of the Act deals with Lok adalats.

Lok Adalats can deal with a number of subjects like compoundable civil, revenue and criminal
cases, partition cases, Damage claims, Motor Vehicle accident compensation claim cases,
Matrimonial and family disputes, Mutation of land cases, Land pattas Cases, Bonded labour
Cases, Family Court cases, land acquisition disputes, Arrears of retirement benefits cases, Bank
unpaid Loan cases and cases which are not sub-judice.

Apart from this A lok Adalat may also take cognizance of certain cases as per section 20 of Legal
services Authority Act in case either the parties agree or one of the party makes an application
for referring the case to the Lok Adalat for such settlement and he is prima facie satisfied that
there are chances of such settlement. Also if the court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate
one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat, court may refer it to Lok Adalat.
Lok Adalats can take cognizance of matters involving not only those persons who are entitled to
avail free legal services but of all other persons also, be they women, men, or children and even
institutions. Anyone, or more of the parties to a dispute can move an application to the court
where their matter may be pending, or even at pre-litigative stage, for such matter being taken up
in the Lok Adalat whereupon the Lok Adalat Bench constituted for the purpose shall attempt to
resolve the dispute by helping the parties to arrive at an amicable solution and once it is
successful in doing so, the award passed by it shall be final which has as much force as a decree
of a Civil Court obtained after due contest.The procedure followed by Lok Adalats is a very
simple one. The Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judicial officer as the chairman,
with two other members, usually a lawyer and a social worker.

Section 21 of Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 talks about finality of Lok Adalat Award. ection
21(2) of said Act makes it crystal clear which read as, "Every award made by Lok Adalat shall be
final and binding on all the parties to the dispute and no appeal shall lie to any court against the
award." On this point a number of debates and discussions have also taken place . Supreme court has
also taken up this question. In case of P.T. Thomas vs Thomas Job , the Apex court held that
Every award of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a decree of a Civil Court or, as the case may
be, an order of any other Court and where a compromise or settlement has been arrived at, by
a Lok Adalat in a case referred on it under sub-section (1) of Sec.20, the court fee paid in such cases
shall be refunded; in the manner provided under the Court Fees Act, 1870 (7 of 1870) (2)
Every award made by a LokAdalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute, and no
appeal shall lie to any Court against the award.
The award of Lok Adalat is final and permanent which is equivalent to a decree executable, and the
same is an ending to the litigation among parties.
Also , Supreme Court recently in,Jagdev Singh vs Jagdev Singh held that, The Lok Adalat will pass
the award with the consent of the parties, therefore there is no need either to reconsider or
review the matter again and again, as the award passed by the Lok Adalat shall be final. Even
as under Section 96(3) of C.P.C. that "no appeal shall lie from a decree passed by the Court
with the consent of the parties". The award of the Lok Adalat is an order by
the Lok Adalatunder the consent of the parties, and it shall be deemed to be a decree of the
Civil Court, therefore an appeal shall not lie from the award of the Lok Adalat as under
Section 96(3) C.P.C. In the light to section 21 of Legal Service Authorities Act and the two
crucial judgement of Apex court its is now transparent that, the Lok Adalat having the position
same like of civil court its Award is binding on parties and no appeal will lie aginst it. as the
Hon'ble the Supreme Court opined that right of appeal is not inherent.
The benefits that litigants derive through the Lok Adalats are many. First, there is no court fee
and even if the case is already filed in the regular court, the fee paid will be refunded if the
dispute is settled at the Lok Adalat.

Second, there is no strict application of the procedural laws and the Evidence Act while assessing
the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat. The parties to the disputes though represented by their
advocate can interact with the Lok Adalat judge directly and explain their stand in the dispute
and the reasons therefore, which is not possible in a regular court of law.

Third, disputes can be brought before the Lok Adalat directly instead of going to a regular court
first and then to the Lok Adalat.? Fourthly, the decision of the Lok Adalat is binding on the
parties to the dispute and its order is capable of execution through legal process. No appeal lies
against the order of the Lok Adalat whereas in the regular law courts there is always a scope to
appeal to the higher forum on the decision of the trial court, which causes delay in the settlement
of the dispute finally. The reason being that in a regular court, decision is that of the court but in
Lok Adalat it is mutual settlement and hence no case for appeal will arise. In every respect the
scheme of Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public, where they can get their disputes settled
fast and free of cost.

Last but not the least, faster and inexpensive remedy with legal status.

The system has received laurels from the parties involved in particular and the public and the
legal functionaries, in general. It also helps in emergence of jurisprudence of peace in the larger
interest of justice and wider sections of society. Its process is voluntary and works on the
principle that both parties to the disputes are willing to sort out their disputes by amicable
solutions. Through this mechanism, disputes can be settled in a simpler, quicker and cost-
effective way at all the three stages i.e. pre-litigation, pending-litigation and post-litigation.

Overall effect of the scheme of the Lok Adalat is that the parties to the disputes sit across the
table and sort out their disputes by way of conciliation in presence of the Lok Adalat Judges, who
would be guiding them on technical legal aspects of the controversies.

In 2002, Parliament brought about certain amendments to the Legal Services Authorities Act,
1987. The said amendment introduced Chapter VI-A with the caption PRE LITIGATION
CONCILIATION AND SETTLEMENT. Section 22-B envisages establishment of
"PERMANENT LOK ADALATS (PLA)" at different places for considering the cases in respect
of Public Utility Services (PUS).

If there is a dispute with respect to PUS, as per Section 22-C(1), any party to such a dispute can,
before bringing it to a court of law for adjudication, make an application to PLA for the
settlement of that dispute. The party making such application need not be a party who raises a
claim against a public utility service. If a claim is made by one against a public utility service,
the establishment carrying out the public utility service can also raise that dispute before PLA to
resolve it. The only limitation is that PLA shall not have jurisdiction to consider a dispute
relating to an offence not compoundable under any law or any matter where the value of the
property in dispute exceeds Rs.10 lakhs. But the Central Government can, by an appropriate
notification, increase this limit. Once an application has been made to PLA by one party, no party
to that application shall invoke the jurisdiction of any court in the same dispute.
During the last few years Lok Adalat has been found to be a successful tool of alternate dispute
resolution in India. It is most popular and effective because of its innovative nature and
inexpensive style. The system received wide acceptance not only from the litigants, but from the
public and legal functionaries in general. In India, during the last few years Lok Adalat has been
functioning continuously and permanently in every District Centre. In Taluka centers also sittings
of Lok Adalats have been held successfully. Several thousands of pending cases and disputes
which had not reached law courts have been settled through Lok Adalats.

These Adalats should be established permanently because these Adalats have been a very useful
aid to people. In this country with huge population, with lots and lots of cases pending, where
some cases are brought up after the death of the applicant. Also, these provide a speedier system
of solution as compared to normal courts. Lok Adalats should be established permanently in all
districts of the country because with the day by day increasing population , we need these
Adalats to cater the needs of people and to help the courts in providing speedier justice to people.
By such establishments, people will always have an option to approach a Lok Adalat instead of
adding up to long list of cases already pending. We need more ADR systems like Lok Adalats .

These permanently established Lok Adalats can be very valuable to our countrys legal sytem.
This approach should be totally adopted and establishment of Permanent Lok Adalats in every
district of the country should be started. It would drastically bring down the number of pending
cases in our country and would provide speedy justice to everyone as justice delayed is justice
denied.