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CLININCAL COURSE

SYNOPSIS

Chapter-15-22
Introduction....5-7
Meaning of Lok Adalat7-22

Chapter-2.23-32
History of Lok Adalat in India23-31
Salient features of Lok Adalat..31
Why Lok Adalats......................................................................................32

Chapter-3..33-37
Benefits of Lok Adalat33-36
Procedure36-37

Chapter-4.38-46
Legislation relating to Lok Adalat.38-41
Finality of award41-46

Chapter-5..47-50
Organisation of Lok Adalat.47-48
Jurisdiction of Lok Adalat48
Cognizance of Pending Cases & Determination..49
Powers of Lok Adalat...50

Chapter-6.51-64
Important precedents...51-53
Significance of Lok Adalat.53-62
Criticism of Lok Adalat..63-64

Chapter-7.65-80
Goal of Lok Adalat: Measures for its Achievement...65-76
Recent Concept of Mobile Lok Adalat: Justice at the Door Step........76
Conclusion..77-80

Bibliography.81-82

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

The roots of the present day human institutions lie deeply buried in the past. The same
is true about the countries law and legal institutions. The legal system of a country at a given
time is not the creation of one man or of one day, rather it represents the cumulative fruit of
the endeavour, experience and consistent thoughtful planning. Therefore to understand and
appreciate the present legal system adequately, it is necessary to acquire a background and
knowledge of the course of its growth and development.1 It is wrong not to lay the lessons of
the past before the future. History illuminates present and the present will illuminate the
future.2

Peace is the sine qua non for development. Disputes and conflicts dissipate valuable
time, effort and money of the society. It is of utmost importance that there should not be any
conflict in the society. But, in a realistic sense, this is not possible. So, the next best solution
is that any conflict which raises its head is nipped in the bud. With the judicial system in most
of the countries being burdened with cases, any new case takes a long time to be decided.
And, till the time the final decision comes, there is a state of uncertainty, which makes any
activity almost impossible. Commerce, business, development work, administration, etc., all
suffer because of long time taken in resolving disputes through litigation.

To get out of this maze of litigation, Courts and lawyers chambers; most of the
countries encourage alternative methods of dispute resolution. India has a long tradition and
history of such methods being practised in the society at grass roots level. These are called
panchayat and in the legal terminology, these are called arbitration. These are widely used in
India for resolution of disputes both commercial and non-commercial. Other alternative
methods being used are Lok Adalat (Peoples Court), where justice is dispensed summarily
without too much emphasis on legal technicalities. Methods like negotiation, mediation and
conciliation are being increasingly used to resolve disputes instead of going for litigation.
There have been recent amendments in the procedural law of India to incorporate these
methods so that people get justice in a speedy manner and there is lesser conflict in the
society.

1
M.P Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal History, 5th Ed. (1990)
2
Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, p. VII.

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The Constitution of India guarantees Right to Constitutional Remedies as a
fundamental right. The Government provides free legal aid to the needy. However, in a
country of continental dimensions and with population more than a billion, it becomes very
difficult to provide free legal aid to everyone. The National Legal Services Authority
(NALSA) is trying to spread legal literacy which is a step more than literacy. People care
about their rights much more when they are aware and are legal literate. Efforts are also
being done at provincial level. All these efforts seem to be a small drop in the ocean, but
small drops make mighty oceans.

Mahatma Gandhi,3 the Father of the Nation, wrote in his autobiography about the role
of law and lawyer, I had learnt the practice of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of
human nature, and to enter mens hearts. I realised that the true function of a lawyer was to
unite parties given as under. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that the large part of
my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about
private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby not even money, certainly
not my soul.

Any conflict is like cancer. The sooner it is resolved the better for all the parties
concerned in particular and the society in general. If it is not resolved at the earliest possible
opportunity, it grows at a very fast pace and with time the effort required to resolve it
increases exponentially as new issues emerge and conflicting situations galore. One dispute
leads to another. Hence, it is essential to resolve the dispute the moment it raises its head. The
method to achieve this goal must be agreeable to both the parties and it should achieve the
goal of resolving the dispute speedily. This state of uncertainty and indecisiveness should be
as brief as possible to avoid all psychological, physical and mental losses.

The Constitution of India has defined and declared the common goal for its citizens as
to secure to all the citizens of India, justice, social, economic and political; liberty; equality
and fraternity. The eternal value of constitutionalism is the rule of law which has three facets
i.e. rule by law, rule under law and rule accordingly to law. How to secure to all the citizens
the justice which the Constitution talks about is a big question being faced by the judiciary.
The Courts dockets are overloaded and new cases are being filed every day. It is becoming
humanly impossible to decide all these cases by the regular Courts in a speedy manner. And,

3
Gandhi, M. K., The Law and the Lawyers, Navjivan Trust, Ahmedabad, India, 1962, Reprint 2001, page 258

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this is not the situation in India alone. This, unfortunately, is the situation in a large number
of jurisdictions.

Meaning of Lok Adalat

The expression Lok Adalat comprises two words, namely, Lok and Adalat the
former expressing the concept of public opinion while the latter denoting the accurate and
through deliberation aspect of decision making. It is a non-formal forum organised by public
spirited social workers like retired judges, public spirited lawyers, and law teachers for
bringing about settlement of disputes between the parties through conciliatory and mediatory
efforts. One important condition is that both parties in dispute must agree for settlement
through Lok Adalat and abide by its decision.

Except matters relating to offences, which are non-compoundable, a Lok Adalat has
jurisdiction to deal with all matters. Matters pending or at pre-trial stage, provided a reference
is made to it by a court or by the concerned authority or committee may be referred to Lok
Adalat. Parliament enacted the Legal Services

Authorities Act, 1987, and one of the aims for the enactment of this enactment was to
organise Lok Adalat to secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice on the basis
of an equal opportunity.

Lok Adalat is a system of alternative dispute resolution developed in India. It roughly


means "People's court". The system of Lok Adalats is an improvement and is based on the
principles of Mahatma Gandhi. Lok Adalat is a non-adversarial system, whereby mock courts
(called Lok Adalats) are held by the State Authority, District Authority, Supreme Court Legal
Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee, or Taluk Legal Services
Committee. They are held periodically for exercising such jurisdiction as they determine.
These are usually presided over by retired judges, social activists, or other members of the
legal profession.

The Lok Adalats can deal with all Civil Cases, Matrimonial Disputes, Land Disputes,
Partition/Property Disputes, Labour Disputes etc., and compoundable criminal Cases. Cases
that are pending in regular courts can be transferred to a Lok Adalat if both the parties agree.
A case can also be transferred to a Lok Adalat if one party applies to the court and the court

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sees some chance of settlement after the other party has been given an opportunity of being
heard. Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public, where they can get their disputes settled
fast and free of cost. Criminal cases are out of the purview of Lok Adalat with an exception.

Lok adalats or Lok Nyayalay means a place of justice for common man in common
parlance, Lok Adalat means a peoples court. However, strictly speaking a Lok Adalat is not
a court in its accepted connotations; as understood by jurists. But the common people may
find attributes of courts in Lok Adalats. It is a new system of dispensation of justice which
has come into existence to grapple with the problem of giving cheap and speedy justice to the
people. Generally speaking Lok Adalat is a para-judicial institution being developed by the
people themselves, still its infancy, trying to find an appropriate structure and procedure in
the struggle of the common people for justice. It is a forum where the parties to the dispute
by, by voluntary efforts, aim at bringing about settlement through convivial and persuasive
efforts.4

Lok Adalat is not a substitute for a present judicial system but is constituted as a
substitute to it with a view to curtail the mounting arrears and to reduce the speed of new
institutions.5 The Lok Adalats cannot be dubbed as a substitute to the present judicial system
because as a matter of fact they do not decide cases, they merely resolve them by persuading
parties by explaining to them advantage of compromising a case. It is a forum where the
entire dilatory procedure of adverbial litigation is bypassed.6

The drive behind the Lok Adalat is to rouse the consciousness of the community to
prevent disruption of mutual and local unity and to secure equitable and substantial justice.
The amicable settlements by the Lok Adalats are not necessarily according to the legal
principles. They have their eyes on social goals like ending feuds rather pending disputes,
restoring peace in the family, community and the locality and ultimately providing for
destitute law or no law7, and also inculcating a nature of amicable settlement of disputes
among the people. It is really an institution to serve the poor by means of dispensing justice

4
Alternative Dispute Resolution, Legal Aid News Letter, May-August (1990).
5
Paras Diwan, Justice at the door step of the people, The Lok Adalat System, AIR 1991, Journal section, 85 at
86
6
Ibid.
7
Legal Aid newsletter, May-August, 1990.

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for the reason that the poor need to go out of his village, spend hard earned money and waste
weeks and months in town in litigation and be exploited by lawyers.8

The forum of Lok Adalat is contrived to enable the common people to ventilate their
grievances against the state agencies or against other citizens and to seek a just settlement if
possible. In order to ensure that the settlement is expedient, fair, just and according to good
conscience and at the same time not violative of law, the Lok Adalat implies resolution of
people dispute by discussion, counselling, persuasion and conciliation. It precisely implies
speedy and cheap justice and to common man at his door step. 9 Mutually agreed settlements
arrived at by the disputants in the Lok Adalat contribute to the greater social solidarity and
better cohesion among litigants.10

The Lok Adalat system may be visualized not as a substitute for the present law
courts but can become the additional and complimentary arm for existing judicial system.11

Judiciary through the activist approach has tried to revive the old strategy of
conciliation for amicable settlement of dispute. Lok Adalats can thus be termed as
conciliation courts and are basically judicial-aided and judge-guided strategies evolved to
save time in obtaining justice and clear the backlog of arrears of cases.

The techniques of conciliation may be divided in terms of number of parties involved


in the process of conflict resolution into Bipartite and Tripatite techniques. Whenever a
conflict arises between the parties, they try to resolve the conflict and differences bilaterally
through negotiations without the aid of third party. When this bipartite technique fails then
the disputants resort to tripartite techniques. The tripartite techniques take different forum
based upon the voluntary and statutory compulsion-persuasion to invite the third party to help
negotiations but with no compulsions to accept the solution offered by the third party. In
other words, the third partys view will not be binding as an award. The bipartite and
tripartite techniques of dispute settlement include the collective bargaining conciliation, fact
finding, arbitration and adjudication.

8
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Social Justice-Sunset or Dawn? (1987).
9
Paras Diwan, Justice at the door step of the people, The Lok Adalat System, AIR 1991, Journal section, 85 at
86
10
Professor N.R. Madhava Menon, Lok Adalat: Peoples Programme for Speedy Justice, Indian Bar Review
Vol. 13(2): 1986, p.129 at p.132, also see Upendra Baxi, Towards a Sociology of Indian Law, (1985), p. 90
11
ibid

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The basic objective of the Lok Adalat is to friendly overcome the differences and
hostility. They try to bring about a solution, which is acceptable to both the parties by the
intervention of the third party.

The main characteristics of the Lok Adalats by conciliation process are:

It is amicable and peaceful method of settlement of disputes;


It is bipartite, as well as tripartite technique for the resolution of the dispute;
The third party to the dispute i.e. mediator or conciliator is either invited by one party
or both the parties voluntarily or compulsorily to assist them to mutually arrive at an
agreement or compromises;
The third party conciliator is not arbitrator, whose award decision may be binding;
The conciliator must establish himself as a neutral, experienced, intelligent, objective
and benevolent participant in the efforts of the parties to negotiate settlement,
knowing fully well, that he does not have a feeling of irritation and frustration in the
event of no settlement;
The method adopted by the third party is of persuasion, legal and factual guidance,
advice, mutual give and take;
The decision of the conciliator is of recommendatory nature; in some cases, when
both the parties on the issue in the same sense, then the consent decree may be passed;
Voluntary acceptance of the solution to the dispute is the essence of the conciliation.
Nothing can be imposed on the parties to the dispute. Power and authority are the very
anti-thesis of the spirit in which really effective conciliation is carried on;

It is primarily the responsibility of the conciliator that he must keep negotiation/talks


moving towards settlements. For this, he must encourage the parties to explore fresh avenues
and choices, offer suggestions and alternative proposals, guide the discussions by feeding
valuable information etc.

The true basis of settlement of dispute by the Lok Adalat is the principle of mutual
consent and voluntary acceptance of the solutions with the help of a conciliator. The basic
purpose of the Lok Adalat is not merely to give justice based on evidence, law and legal
know how but the approach is to the very human problem itself. The concept of Lok Adalat
basically revolves around the principle of creating awareness amongst the poor, innocent,
illiterate and ignorant people to the effect that their welfare and interest really lies in arriving

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at immediate and peaceful settlement of their dispute. It is to make them conscience of the
fact that the only suitable remedy with them is in getting rid of their case by a single decision
through compromise which will save not on their hard earned money but multiplicity of
litigation, by being involved in appeal, review, revision, remand etc. the never ending chain.
It is the basic philosophy of the Lok Adalat to see that the tension, enmity, disquietitude of
the party are shunned by resolution of their case. Lok Adalat is to generate an environment of
friendship by making the people to understand that their relief lies not in enmity by winning
the case but by resolution in mutual friendship and brotherhood. It will create an atmosphere
of goodwill amongst the parties which in ultimate analysis will bring peace in the society at
large.

The main aim of Lok Adalat is humanitarian aspect and the basic purpose of Lok Adalat
is not to impose the justice but the people are awakened to their own rights and duties vis--
vis the rights and duties of others. There is a rational thinking on the part of both the parties
to the dispute without going towards adversary system of proving or disapproving guilt. It is
seeing that both the parties accept a solution as agreed to by them or suggested by the third
party i.e. mediator or conciliator, appointed by the Lok Adalats or by the parties themselves.
Actually none of the disputant is held totally guilty or totally innocent. When a dispute or
conflict is resolved between two parties through conciliation then a via-media is arrived at on
the give and take basis the court acts as middle agencies in finding out a solution which is
beneficial and agreeable top both the parties. The procedure and results are really determined
in a significant manner by the attitude of the disputants.

Lok Adalat works on the equitable principle rather than legal and technical
considerations. It is not purely judicial in character. Lok Adalat tries to inculcate the sense of
reasoning in the minds of disputants by having deep insight into their minds after the study of
their psychology, their leanings and prejudices.

Since, Lok Adalats are not having any statutory basis, so there is no hierarchy and
jurisdictional limitations on the working of the Lok Adalats. In contrast to traditional courts,
the judges of Lok Adalats are not appointed by the government directly but are nominated by
the Legal Aid and Advices Committee constituted in respective States. The city Lok Adalats
function under the overall supervision of the Chairman, Legal Aid and Advice Committee.
The Chairman appoints one or more service minded lawyers as convenors. The convenors

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make all arrangement for the place, where the sitting of Lok Adalat takes place and is in
charge of its conduct till its conclusion.12

The Lok Adalat comprises of a team of counsellors, retired judicial, revenue


administrative officers, advocates, academicians, social workers, etc. The team of conciliator
for Lok Adalats comprises not less than three and not more than five members.13 The Adalats
are arranged periodically at different places. There are no permanent court premises for
resolution of disputes through Lok Adalats. These are organized temporarily for a single day
either in traditional court premises or in universities class rooms or in other public or private
suitable places.

The procedure adopted for the conduct of the working of the Lok Adalats is altogether
different from the procedure followed in the traditional courts. There are no pecuniary or
territorial limitations as noticed earlier. Further, there are no well defined and demarcated
areas where these courts are to exercise their capabilities to settle the disputes. There is only a
single and uniform procedure to all civil and criminal cases. The procedure is very simple,
quick, flexible, informal and devoid of all technicalities and baffling formalities but moulded
in consonance with the exigencies of the situation.

Lok Adalats are voluntary efforts of judiciary and the litigants. There is no compulsion to
settle the disputes. If the parties agree to decide their disputes, only then Lok Adalats come
into picture, to render help to them. However, the constitution and the composition of Lok
Adalats varies from place to place, depending on the quantum and nature of cases.
Sometimes, these Adalats are presided over by retired High Court Judges and District Judges.
Public can also participate in it but they must be persons of status and experience. They are
required to possess the patience, tact, intelligence and gentle persuasiveness needed for
dealing with the disputants and bringing them round the settlement in the spirit of give and
take. Presence of lawyer is not required and is not a must. They are, however, welcomed and
not debarred from attending the Lok Adalats.

The process of negotiation usually starts when both the parties come before the Lok
Adalat. The negotiation is assisted by the volunteers, advocates of both the parties and judges
of the Adalat. They interview the parties and assess the scope of settlement acceptable to

12
M.R. Saxena Legal Aid Advice Scheme and Lok Adalat, AIR 1986 Journal Section, p. 105.
13
Ibid.

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them. Once the settlement is arrived at, it is reduced to black and white on the spot and
parties voluntary agree to be bound by the decision of the Lok Adalat and the signature of the
parties are obtained. Finally, this agreement is ratified by the respective judges of the local
courts where the case was pending and accordingly a consent decree is passed.

Thus, the Lok Adalats are very helpful in resolving amicably because there is neither a
cumbersome procedure like that of conventional courts nor evidence is needed or recorded
nor the presence of a lawyer is necessary.

Lok Adalats resolve cases at pre trial and in-trial level. Most of the cases decided by
them are related to accidents claims, matrimonial reliefs, small claims for compensation for
land acquisitions claims, wages claim, railways claim, claims relating to goods, municipal
claims, compoundable offences, traffic offences, etc14. Besides these cases other cases
decided by them are revenue cases under the Municipal Act, Shop Act, Forest Act and
Weights and Measures Act.15

One of the distinct advantages of the Lok Adalats strategy is that it can invent new
prospects for resolution of disputes which is not possible under the conventional justice
delivery system. The Lok Adalats can invent a new device under which both the parties to the
dispute can be accommodated. This method of consensus-decision making can be equally and
successfully made applicable to amicable settlement of individual dispute in the society also.
India has open society, an elected government, a vibrant opposition, a free press and a
independent judiciary, notwithstanding widespread illiteracy and grinding poverty can
successfully achieve the method of ending disputes with consensus at the basis of arriving the
decisions. The concept of Lok Adalat deserves to be strengthened, developed for preventing
litigation, ending pending litigation, ending the pending litigation and ultimately making Lok
Adalat a peace-making and peace-keeping institution.

To sum up, Lok Adalat contemplates a plate of justice at the door of the common ma, to
settle his dispute at the earliest opportunity and without delay and costs. The Lok Adalats are
based on the principles of honesty; fairplay and moral character as embodied in Indian culture
and civilization, with a view to restore the confidence of a common man in the judicial

14
Current Topics 1986, p 413;
K.M.H Rayyappa, Lok Adalats : Objectives, pre-requisites, strategies and organization, Indian Bar Review,
15

Vol. 14(4) 1987 p.711 at 713.

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system. The Lok Adalat contemplates the justice where strict provisions of the Evidence Act
and Limitation Act are not strictly followed and are relaxed whenever necessary in the ends
of justice. Lok Nyayalaya contemplates to hear and settle the dispute in the language of the
people, in public presence.16 The peoples dispute by the medium of Lok Adalats are decided
by mutually agreed amicable settlements.

Our dream, long cherished dream of justice cannot be achieved by our just wish but can
be achieved if we have burning desire and firm determination and work for the goal and
realize that Law and Justice for the people, of the people and by the people and there alone
lies salvation of our shivering, shaking, shambling, dwindling and fading Judicial System
which is all in fumes and Fire. We are no doubt at the cross-roads of judicial history.17

It is true that Parliament and State legislature are passing day in and day out social
legislation for the benefit of the poor and weaker sections of the society, but the real question
is whether the poor or the weaker is really benefited to the desired extent and have
meaningful access to the judicial system. The access is foremost the human right but the
problem to access to justice has many dimensions.

In the broader concept, justice has to cover more than bare court entry and is to include
the access to law makers, lawyers, police, enforcement agencies, capabilities to pay court
fees, the capacity to bear the cost and expenses of the witnesses and other incidental expenses
and charges, time and energy consuming factor, as also access to legal information. But the
reality is that the poor can never reach the court because he does not have adequate economic
means to meet the travelling expenses, engaging lawyers, paying court fees, spending for
marshalling evidence and so on.

Hence the poor and the downtrodden have in reality no access to justice, and at the very
outset they are, therefore, denied access to legal system by the reason of their poverty.18 The
net result is that the masses have no faith in the justice delivery system itself, which
developed in the last several hundred years, in British traditions and footprints. By the
passage of time, it has really grown more and more complex both in terms of substance and
procedure and the administration is inadequate to meet the needs of the time with the result

16
Mahabaleshwar N. Morje, Lok Nyayalay, AIR 1964 Journal Section 68.
17
Justice Guman Mal Lodha, Home Delivery System of Justice AIR 1963 Journal Section 73 at 79.
18
D.K Sampa, Mediation (1991), p. 3

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that the grievances like, access, delay, arrears, expenses are only the tips of the iceberg. 19
More so hierarchy of the courts, with appeals, revisions, review petitions etc. put legal justice
beyond the reach of the poor and weaker sections of the poor and weaker sections of the
society. Professional services a monopoly as lawyers are too dear to be paid and satisfied by
the poor.20

The effective access to justice is the basic requirement the most basic human right- of the
system which purports to guarantee legal rights. But rocketing costs of litigation hanging over
the heads of the teeming millions, sustaining themselves below the poverty line, has for them
remained the justice far beyond the reach of their tiny hands, and has thrown them into
merciless hands of tyranny, inequality, silent sufferance and unheard condemnation. Thus
process to justice is luxuriously laminated and cushioned for those whose purchasing power
and influence knows no bounds.21 In theory access to justice and court is available to all. It
has to be made possible for economically weak to fight the economically strong in court.

There are long delays in disposal of cases and disposal of justice, since litigation is
expensive and tiring. The quality of justice dispensed becomes adversely affected. The
elephantine backlog of cases and the enormous congestion in courts, result in inordinate
delays in the administration of justice. As the society has become more complex and
impersonal, the citizens have increasingly turned to the legal system for the dissolution and
solution of their disputes. The result has been unmanageable burden on the courts. Increased
urbanization, broadening of the government involvement in everyday life of the people and
waning away of non-judicial institutions traditionally engaged in dispute resolution have
combined to provide an unprecedented explosion of formal litigation, resulting in congestion
and delay reducing the effectiveness of the judicial system and the justice has become a
distant reality and remote dream.22

The common reason for the delay in disposal of cases are defective legislation, hasty an
injudicious action by the executive, apathy to solve the problem by negotiations, inadequacy
of judges, lack of administrative training for judicial officers and meaningful co-operation
from the legal profession and litigants. The main challenge, with which our judiciary is

19
Dhairya Sheel Patil, Justice Delivery System and Socio-Economic Realities, Indian Bar Review, Vol. 14(3):
1987, p.373.
20
Manohar Raj Saxena, Legal Aid Advice Scheme and Lok-Adalat, AIR 1986 Journal Section 103.
21
S.N. Johri, Programmes and Movement for Legal Aid to Poor, AIR 1981 Journal Section 7.
22
Neela Kantho Das, Restructuring of Judicial Administration in Orissa, AIR 1991 Journal Section, 132

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confronted, is huge arrears of cases pending at different levels at different stages in the
courts. The adversary system, procedural wrangles and multiplicity of appeals, revisions,
review and remands are some of the factors which leave a litigant as bitter frustrated person
while waiting for justice for years.23the adversary system of adjudication breeds a sort of
animosity and bitter hatred in the minds of the disputants, in this kind of approach, the
litigation is considered as a battle and that too a battle of wits and not for truth between the
parties to somehow, won by the litigants. A judge merely sits as an umpire to enforce the
rules of the battle. Consequently, one is necessarily the victor and other a loser. Victor leaves
the court with the sense of pride and vanquished with a sense of humiliation and bitterness.24
This kind of approach to the litigation is certainly not fit for the changing needs and values of
society during fast approaching 21st century.

Justice is substantive nourishment for the stomach but for human and soul emphasis
throughout has been that justice must not only be done but it must appear to have been
done.25 Study reveals that our philosophy of justice no doubt is very rich but our borrowed
judicial system is not capable of implementing it and delivering- resulting in true concept of
justice. The great judge and jurist; Justice Krishna Iyer after his retirement emphasized: the
myth is that the court of law administers justice, the truth is that they are agents of
injustice.26 The justice system which developed in the last several hundred years, in British
tradition has not been forsaken even after independence, has become ever and ever more
complex not only in terms of substance but in procedure and its administration as
well.27Indian Parliament and all the state legislatures are passing Lawson all conceivable
aspects of human life. There are unending chains of heaps of legislations, rules, notifications,
regulation etc, which make the people baffling about their rights. Bunker Roy is justified
when he says: India has 19th century conditions and 21st century legislation.28 Our legal
system has made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for the law-abiding citizens. A
touch here and a push there, and India may become ungovernable under the present
constitutional set-up.29

23
Report of the First Regional Workshop on Legal Literacy through Universities/Colleges held at Shimla.
24
I.P. Massey, Conciliation through the sub-ordinate courts: A Unique Himachal Experience
25
Dinesh Chander Mukherjee, Legal Education for Services to the Poor AIR 1982, Journal Section pp. 65,66
26
F.S Nariman, The Judiciary and the Role of Path Finders, 1987 p. 373
27
Dhairya Sheel Patil, Justice Delivery System and Socio-Economic Realities, Indian Bar Review, Vol. 14(3):
1987, p.373.
28
Times of India, November 17, 1991, p.6
29
N.A. Palkivala, We the People (1988),p. 3

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The purpose of law and a judicial system is that in the event of the dispute, to arrive at a
conclusion as to on which side the truth is and then to decide accordingly. One of the
important aspect and utility of the system is search for truth. The spirit of enquiry aiming at
search for truth must always be the guiding principle for all justice system and the laws. The
growth of law and development of jurisprudence through centuries clearly brings out that
efforts are made to find truth in courts of law, though the process of finding truth is not only
very difficult but in courts truth is very poor competitor. It would be a wonder if in our
adversary judicial system; the courts ever succeed in establishing truth by untutored evidence.
In the existing judicial system findings of facts end with the trial court and first appellate
court and the higher court would not interfere unless perversity of the findings is established
to their satisfaction.

The administration of adversary system of justice necessitates giving twist to facts and
suppressing truth. The Rajasthan study reveals that when a villager has only outsider as
Nyaya Panchas the atmosphere is very similar to that of court if law where a man could
indulge in all sorts of falsehood; sometimes even under oath with the sense of impunity and
without any fear of social conscience operating against him.30

India is a country famed for its saints who propagated truth as they perceived. The spirit
of trust Dharma as the basis of our way of life gave to the civilization and culture a longevity
which others lacked and perished, while we still live on though the skies have been
unfavourable to us for centuries.

There is thus a great need to look forward for new methods, means and modes to settle
the disputes. There appears to be deep-felt need to avoid all sorts of confrontations and adopt
peaceful and amicable methods of conciliation with the hope to maintain peace and amity in
the society.31 Desirability thus is for introducing changes in the mode, method and even in the
forum for settling disputes, before the existing judicial system itself is engulfed by its own
weight and debris.32

To quote Justice Bhagwati, India possessed the large corpus of law; social justice was
yet to percolate to the poor. The poor had lost faith in the capacity of the courts to deliver

30
Upendra Baxi, Towards a Socoilogy of Indian Law, (1985), p. 90
31
I.P. Massey, Conciliation through the sub-ordinate courts: A Unique Himachal Experience
32
See Justice D.A. Desai, Times of India, January 26, 1986.

Page | 14
justice. Every new law seems to take away something without giving the poor anything. The
poor had begun to feel that law is repressive.33

The basic principles and underlined idea of Lok Adalats is to provide cheaper and quicker
justice at the door steps to the people. It will not only retrieve the work load on the regular
courts, but also go a long way in settling disputes outside the forum of courts.

Our present judicial system has badly failed to keep pace with the aspirations of the
people.34 The system is cracking and on the verge of collapse. 35 Now blind folded Dike, the
Greek Goddess of justice, and twenty first century goddess of justice holding a scale of
justice even her hand, cannot and need not be blind folded. Her eyes must be wide open so as
to see that justice is being done between the parties and no one turns its back to justice with
bitterness.36

Therefore, it is the result of social philosophy of judges, jurists and eminent scholars that
judiciary has entered a new alternative for a in the form of Lok Adalats.

33
The Times of India, January 26, 1986.
34
Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Judicial Justice (1986)
35
P.n. Bhagwati, Chief Justice remarks at Law Day Function in Delhi,1986
36
Parkash Narain, Role of Supreme Courts and its Effectiveness of Judicial Remedies

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Chapter 2

History of Lok Adalat in India

Like the zero, the concept of Lok Adalat (Peoples Court) is an innovative Indian
contribution to the world jurisprudence. The institution of Lok Adalat in India, as the very
name suggests, means, Peoples Court. Lok stands for people and the vernacular
meaning of the term Adalat is the Court.

India has a long tradition and history of such methods being practised in the society at
grass roots level. These are called Panchayat and in the legal terminology, these are called
arbitration. These are widely used in India for resolution of disputes both commercial and
non-commercial. Other alternative methods being used are Lok Adalat (Peoples Court),
where justice is dispensed summarily without too much emphasis on legal technicalities. It
has been proved to be a very effective alternative to litigation. Lok Adalat is one of the fine
and familiar forums which has been playing an important role in settlement of disputes.

The ancient concept of settlement of dispute through mediation, negotiation or


through arbitral process known as Peoples Court verdict or decision of Nyaya-Panch is
conceptualized and institutionalized in the philosophy of Lok Adalat. Some people equate
Lok Adalat to conciliation or mediation, some treat it with negotiations and arbitration. Those
who find it different from all these, call it Peoples Court. It involves people who are
directly or indirectly affected by dispute resolution.

The salient features of this form of dispute resolution are participation,


accommodation, fairness, expectation, voluntariness, neighbourliness, transparency,
efficiency and lack of animosity. The concept of Lok Adalat was pushed back into oblivion in
last few centuries before independence and particularly during the British regime. Now, this
concept has, once again, been rejuvenated. It has, once again, become very popular and
familiar amongst litigants. This is the system which has deep roots in Indian legal history and
its close allegiance to the culture and perception of justice in Indian ethos.

The history of the evolution of Lok Adalats, popularly known as peoples court goes
back to Vedic times when the kings, in return for taxes paid to him by the people performed
the duty of judge. The Vedic king wielded authority as the head of the judiciary and claimed

Page | 16
himself as the upholder of Dharma of law like Varma. The judicial powers of the king
swallowed with the passage of time and the machinery for the administration of justice put
into by him consisted by Sabha and Samiti. The study of Dharmasutras discloses that king
started delegating his judicial authority to his royal officers who were the member of village
assembly known as the Sabha. The most pronounced feature of Hindu policy was that the law
was administered by the Sabha. Normally it was the Sabha or the popular village assembly
rather than the king who tried to arbitrate when it was feasible to do so. There is substantial
corroboration of the fact that in the later vedic times Samhitas and Brahmanas of the old
Vedic tribal council called the sabha developed into the kings court as well as his council.

There were functioning two seats of courts simultaneously, viz the royal court and
popular court i.e lok Adalat. With the expansion of royel powers after 600 B.C subordinate
royal courts began to be constituted for important towns and cities which were often located
in the headquarters of terriritorial division like Sthana. Dronamukha and Kharvatika. These
courts functioned under the authority of royal seal and were popularly known as Mudrita in
later times. Similarly, there were special Royal courts of criminal jurisdiction known as
Kantakasodhana courts. In addition to these royal courts, there were no. of popular courts in
the ancient Indian polity. Though the ancient Indian polity was a highly centralized one but it
left a number of disputes to be decided by unofficial courts.

Gradation and Composition of Peoples Courts

To reiterate, the lok Adalats i.e., popular courts or peoples courts are for the first
instance mentioned in Yajnavalkya Smriti. He mentions three types of popular courts, viz. (a)
Puga, (b) Sreni, and (c) kula. Similarly, P.V. Kane is of the view that Puga, Sreni, and kula
were arbitration tribunals like modern Panchayats or the lok Adalats of today. The judges of
the popular courts had office either by election or by inheritance according to local custom.
There was a well established hierarchy of the popular courts, the highest being the court of
Gana and the lowest on the ladder was the Kula court. The Sreni court was in between the
two. These same courts are mentioned in the same order by Brihaspati who points out that an
appeal would lie to the Sreni court from the decision of Kula court and to the Puga court from
the decision of the Sreni court.

The word Puga appears to have denoted the local corporations of towns are villages
during the post-vedic period. The study of chullavaga discloses that the word Puga has been

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used to have a sense of corporation of a town or a village. Yajnavalkya opines that the Puga
court consisted of member belonging to different castes and profession but staying in the
same villages or town. Puga courts functioned as an agency of adjudication other than official
ones. One find a detail description about the nature and composition of the Puga courts in the
philosophy of Altekar. He was of the view that Puga courts consisted of members belonging
to different caste and profession and staying in the same villages or town. It is thus clear that
Puga courts played an important role almost throughout the long course of Indian history.
Though Puga courts were non official, they had the royal authority behind them since they
were sanctioned by the king. Puga courts also enjoyed appellate jurisdiction in all cases
decided by Sreni and kula court.

The Sreni was an association of persons engaged in similar pursuits. It was an


association or a corporation of merchants or guilds. The Dharmasastra and Nitisastra shows
that Sreni courts had jurisdiction to resolve disputes among their members. The Sreni had
their own executive committees of four or five members and it was likely that these
committees functioned as the Sreni court when the efforts at family arbitration failed.
Vijnansesvara describes Sreni as agencies of adjudication other than official ones. The Sreni
courts had appellate jurisdiction the appeal could lie against the decision of Kula courts in the
Sreni courts.

Kula was the lowest court, headed by the kirismen. Mitaksara defines Kula as a group
of relative. The Kula court was informed body of family elders. It enjoyed the judicial
function but was considered to be inferior in jurisdiction to officers appointed by the king. It
was an arbitration tribunal like modern panchayat or the lok Adalats of today.

Powers and Functions of Peoples Courts

The Hindu scriptures throw a flood of light on the powers and functions of the
popular court prevelant in ancient India. The authoritative sources disclosed that these courts
had the authority to decide civil and criminal cases accept those involing trail for an offence
committed with violence i.e Sahasna. They had no authority to administer sentences of fines
and corporal punishment. The matter of this nature had to go before the king, who alone had
the power to execute such sentences if it met with his approval. Besides, sahasna matters, the
popular courts were almost autonomous in their powers of investigation and the decision of

Page | 18
the disputes in their own jurisdiction. Narada has gone to extent of declaring peoples courts
independent in their affair equal to a king.

The king of the country happens to be upper most and supreme court for civil and
criminal cases in his kingdom. In case of grave crimes or when the condemned party refuse to
obey the judgment of local court, the court of king was concerned with litigation.

Though the popular court where essentially non official, they had still the royal
authority behind them and were sanctioned by the king. The decision s of these courts were
authoritative in nature and the government was bound to execute their decrees because the
state had delegated these powers to them. The govt. had a considered policy that these
popular courts should flourish, it refuse to entertain any suit accept in appeal against their
decisions.

The peoples courts were empowered to impose fines or awards imprisonment,


banishment depending in the nature of cases decides by them. Fines, mutilation and death
sentence were in vogue. Fines were most common. Those sentenced to imprisonment were
often made to work on roads and in public places, so that there should be a deterant effect. In
early times the punishment for the murder of a Brahmana was a thousand cows, for that of a
Kshatriya five hundred cows, for that for Vaisya hundred cows and for that of a sudra only
ten cows.

Judicial Procedure of the Peoples Courts

The whole judicial proceeding was divided into four main heads.

1. The plaint (Bhasa Pada or Pratijna)


2. The reply (or written statement)
3. The proof (or evidence on behalf of the plaintiff and the defendant i.e Kriya Pada or
Sadhna)
4. The decision (or judgment) (Nirnaya)

This concept is, now, again very popular and is gaining historical momentum.
Experience has shown that it is one of the very efficient and important ADRs and most suited
to the Indian environment, culture and societal interests. Lok Adalats have worked very well
and satisfactorily in our country.

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Camps of Lok Adalat were started initially in Gujarat in March, 1982 and now it has
been extended throughout the Country. The evolution of this movement was a part of the
strategy to relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases. The reason to create such
camps were only the pending cases and to give relief to the litigants who were in aqueue to
get justice.

The first Lok Adalat was held on March 14, 1982 at Junagarh in Gujarat the land of
Mahatma Gandhi. Lok Adalats have been very successful in settlement of motor accident
claim cases, matrimonial/family disputes, labour disputes, disputes, relating to public services
such as telephone, electricity, bank recovery cases and so on .Some statistics may give us a
feeling of tremendous satisfaction and encouragement. Up to the middle of last year (2004),
more than 200,000 Lok Adalats have been held and therein more than 16 million cases have
been settled, half of which were motor accident claim cases. More than one billion US dollars
were distributed by way of compensation to those who had suffered accidents. 6.7 million
persons have benefited through legal aid and advice.

Lok Adalat can be said to be the extension of our traditional Nyaya Panchayats
with some modification in its functioning and characteristics.

The Nyaya Panchayats were once popular tribunals in the rural countryside
settling civil and criminal disputes through the intervention of village elders. But its
origin can be traced back from the period of Vedas. In very ancient India, during the
Vedic civilization, there are mentions of two Parliament-like gatherings of the Indo-Aryan
kingdoms called the Sabha and the Samiti. During the time of the Buddha, many states were
even tribal republics, called the Sanghas.

The Sabha has been interpreted by the historians as a representative assembly of the
electthe important men of the clan, which ran day-to-day business with the king. The
Samiti seems to be a gathering of all the male members of the kingdom, and probably
convened only for the ratification/election of a new king. The two largely democratic
institutions, which kept a check on the absolutism of the king, were given a sacred position,
and have been called the daughters of the deity Prajapati in the Vedas, the holiest of all Hindu
scriptures and the earliest Indo-European literature. The Sabha is mentioned in many
passages of the Rig-Veda as body of the elders. It was attended by persons of noble truth -
Brahmanas and rich patrons.

Page | 20
It was as important as the Samiti. The Sabha acted as the national judicature. Various
passages of Rig Veda refer to Samiti but they do not define its exact character and function.
The Samiti was an ordinary assembly of the tribe and its members were called Visha. The
king attended the Samiti.

The most important work of the Samiti was to elect the king. Justice was based on
Dharma. The king was the fountain head of justice. Main crimes of the age were theft,
burglary, robbery, cheating etc. Cattle lifting was the commonest of all. Monetary
compensation was given to the relatives of the man killed. To prove their innocence the
criminals were subjected to fire and water ordeals. Aryans were skilled warriors. Main
weapons of war were bow and arrow. Other weapons included swords, spears, axes and
lances. Most of the wars were fought from bullock driven chariot. Horse riding was known.
Cavalary as a military unit had not been formed. Local government played a more important
part in the Rig Vedic days. The lowest unit of administration was the family or kul and its
chief was known as Grihapati or Kulapati. A group pf families or kuls constituted a village
which in the Rig Vedic days were called Grama. The village officer was called Gramini. The
village head Gramini led the villagers in time of war and attended the meetings of the Sabha
and Samiti.

Several villages together formed a clan and its chief was called Vispati. He was also a
military leader and used to lead his clan in times of war under the guidance and instructions
of the Rajan of the tribe. The tribe was known as the Jana and the head of the Jana was the
Rajan who was constantly assisted by the Senani and the Purohita However, these democratic
institutions became weaker as republics became larger and elected chieftainship moved
towards hereditary and absolute monarchy. The Sabha and the Samiti bear almost no mention
in later literature. After this, India would not have any democratic legislature till the British
times, culminating in its modern democratic Parliament (whose two Houses still bear the
name of Sabha).

With the advent of Independence, the Constitution movers made a provision in


Article 40, under which one of the directive principles of state policy specifically laid
down that the state would take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them
with such power and authority as may enable them to function as u nits of self-
Government. With this in view the institution of panchayats were brought into
recognition.
Page | 21
The modern version of Lok Adalat, however, arose out of the concern
expressed by the Committees set up to report on organizing legal aid to the poor and
the alarm generated by judicial circle on the mounting arrears of cases pending for
long at different levels in the Court system.

The setting up of the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Scheme (CILAS)
by the Union Government in 1980 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice P.N.
Bhagwati and later on under the chairmanship of Mr. R.N. Misra gave a future
impetus to the legal aid movement in general and the concept of legal aid camps and
Lok Adalat in particular.

Special Features of Lok Adalat

You can get your dispute settled at the lowest possible cost and without delay. You
need not pay the court fee.
You need not appoint an advocate instead you can personally appear before Lok
Adalat.
The conciliators, one of whom is a judge, will guide you in order to settle the dispute
amicably.
You can compromise only when you are satisfied with the relief suggested by the
conciliators.
The same justice you get from the court in which your case is pending for
adjudication you also get in Lok Adalat.
Generally the judgment rendered in Lok Adalat is final and is not appeal able. It is
binding on both the parties and has the same force as the judgments rendered by the
Civil Court.
By filing Execution Petition in the Civil Court you can get the judgment of Lok
Adalat executed.

If a case pending before the court is settled in Lok Adalat the court fees paid in that case is
refunded partially or fully as per law.

Why Lok Adalats?

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Judicial justice is much despised in our country by the common man because of the
ruinous cost of litigation, far too technical legal process, prolonged litigation and
inordinate delay in disposal of cases.
This form of redressal is needed for enabling the common people to ventilate their
grievances against the state agencies or against other citizens and to seek a just
settlement if possible.
There are certain definite advantages of this institution.
The parties are saved from extremely technical court procedures, which are followed
in a regular court.
They are saved from protracted litigation, anxiety, bitterness apart from the saving of
expenses of court fees and other expenses, which they are likely to incur in future
litigations by way of further appeal etc.
The organization of Lok Adalat is informal and flexible. Apart from some minimum
requirements in respect of procedures and approaches, the rest of the exercise is
simple and varied as the nature of the problems and the culture of the community
demand.
The following types of cases can be brought before the Lok Adalats:
Pre-litigation cases i.e. the disputes, which have not yet gone to the law courts.
Pending cases i.e. the disputes, which have already gone to the law courts.

Page | 23
CHAPTER 3

Benefits of Lok Adalat

The benefits that litigants derive through the Lok Adalat 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. Secondly, 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. Thirdly, 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. 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.

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. They get faster and inexpensive remedy
with legal status. Success of Lok Adalats in India can be judged from the number of cases
settled by the Lok Adalats in all the States. The difference between the work done by Lok
Adalats and the regular courts becomes much more marked if one takes into account the
number of cases settled at various Lok Adalats and compares them to the corresponding
figures for those decided by regular courts. The table below shows the number of Lok
Adalats held in all the States till 30th November 2011 from its inception, number of MACT
Page | 24
(Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal) cases settled, number of total cases settled and
compensation awarded in MACT cases:

No. of Compensation
No. of No. of Cases
State/Union MACT awarded in
Lok Adalats Settled (inclu.
Territory Cases MACT Cases
held MACT Cases)
Settled (in Rs.)
Andhra Pradesh 1,59,110 1,12,169 14,31,481 9,93,71,01,396
Arunachal
481 549 4,925 3,01,37,176
Pradesh
Assam 3,976 22,869 2,47,406 1,26,75,88,835
Bihar 20550 120135 8,25,871 93,89,46,619
Chhattisgarh 9365 8329 81072 759240532
Goa 658 5206 8004 306091648
Gujarat 113239 182344 6864186 10739579473
Haryana 13954 34868 1165674 3289016583
Himachal Pradesh 5614 5414 93014 422908879
Jammu &
3365 8527 119594 1609457800
Kashmir
Jharkhand 18166 3487 147598 489116740
Karnataka 76463 132589 1298306 6250538966
Kerala 23722 121157 285533 5064256058
Madhya Pradesh 33645 121096 3022786 9227305797
Maharashtra 32375 82614 1173676 9615545572
Manipur 43 1170 1185 57221500
Meghalaya 109 926 6157 110729186
Mizoram 1268 240 1272 6094080
Nagaland 99 1049 1648 109098322
Orissa 12099 44128 4067482 3002792997
Punjab 18964 16889 999956 1472283274
Rajasthan 112633 598919 2365331 5373836690
Sikkim 1068 160 4008 9101000
Tamil Nadu 244675 154380 547320 14513720409
Tripura 568 3103 23756 67753578

Page | 25
Uttar Pradesh 37934 72431 8223824 5742022194
Uttrakhand 1209 4121 241993 442574460
West Bengal 17873 34271 193645 2454330542
And. & Nico.
158 24 1789 3736468
Islands
U.T. Chandigarh 6145 17842 192396 1221173175
D & Nagar Haveli 12 119 1781 12007699
Daman & Diu 8 61 135 3099000
Delhi 10937 19287 589464 3048379536
Lakshadweep 73 11 131 435000
Puducherry 854 7967 28958 284499244
SCLSC 6 44 179 --
Total 981418 1938495 34261536 97881720428

The efforts of the Punjab Legal Services Authority (PLSA) in resolving disputes
through innovative methods have not gone unnoticed. The Union government has asked to all
the states to follow Punjabs example in successful usage of Alternate Dispute Redressal
(ADR) mechanism to deal high number of consumer cases.37Even the International Labour
Organization (ILO) has appreciated the Punjab experience in Alternate Dispute Redressal of
Labour dispute cases.

At an ILO conference in Manesar (Haryana) in 2005 representatives of eight countries


decided to study the Punjab experience in detail and then to suggest their respective
governments to implement the same. The ILO has also sought details from the Punjab
Government on the mechanism, adopted by the Lok Adalats in settling Labour disputes out of
court and that too in a matter of hours.

Procedure at Lok Adalat

The procedure followed at a Lok Adalat is very simple and shorn of almost all legal
formalism and rituals. The Lok 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. It is revealed
by experience that in Lok Adalat it is easier to settle money claims since in most such cases
the quantum alone may be in dispute. Thus the motor accident compensation claim assets are
brought before the Lok Adalat and a number of cases were disposed of in each Lok Adalat.
37
Article by Maneesh Chibber, published in the Tribune dated March 4, 2006

Page | 26
One important condition is that both parties in dispute should agree for settlement through
Lok Adalat and abide by its decision. A Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to settle, by way of
effecting compromise between the parties, any matter which may be pending before any
Court, as well as matters at pre-litigative stage i.e. disputes which have not yet been formally
instituted in any Court of Law. Such matters may be civil or criminal in nature, but any
matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law cannot be decided by the Lok
Adalat even if the parties involved therein agree to settle them. 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 anamicable 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.

Page | 27
CHAPTER 4

Legislation Pertaining to Lok Adalat

Ever since 1987, Lok Adalats have been given statutory recognition. The Legal
Services Autorities Act, 1987, pursuant to the constitutional mandate in Article 39-Aof the
Constitution of India, contains various provisions for settlement of disputes through Lok
Adalat. Thus, the ancient concept of Lok Adalat has, now, statutory basis. It is an Act to
constitute legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker
sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any
citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organise Lok Adalats to secure that
the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity. In 2002,
Parliament of India amended the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 requiring
establishment of permanent Lok Adalats for public utility services.

The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (as amended vide Act No. 37 of
2002)provides for setting up of a Permanent Lok Adalat which can be approached by any
party to a dispute involving public utility services which have been defined in the Act (as
amended) to include transport services for the carriage of passengers or goods by air, road or
water; postal, telegraph or telephone services; insurance service, as also services in hospital
or dispensary, supply of power, light or water to the public, besides systems of public
conservancy or sanitation.

Any civil dispute with a public utility service and where the value of the property in
dispute does not exceed Rupees one million (about US $ 2200); or any criminal
dispute which does not involve an offence not compoundable under any law, can be taken up
in the Permanent Lok Adalat.

An important feature of this amendment is that after an application is made to the


Permanent Lok Adalat, no party to that application can invoke jurisdiction of any Court in the
same dispute. Such disputes involving public utility services shall be attempted to be settled
by the Permanent Lok Adalat by way of conciliation and failing that, on merit, and in doing
so the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be guided by the principles of natural justice, objectivity,
fair play, equity and other principles of justice without being bound by the Code of Civil
Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act.

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Besides the Legal Services Authorities Act, there have been several other changes in
the law in recent times and one of the most important being the amendment in Code of Civil
Procedure. Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure as amended in2002 has opened the
scope for introduction of conciliation, mediation and pre-trial settlement methodologies.

Once the model rules framed by the Committee headed by Justice Jagannadha Rao,
Chairman, Law Commission of India under the directions of the Supreme Court of India have
been adopted by all the High Courts, funds will need to be sanctioned to meet the need
for providing the requisite infrastructure and for employment of mediators and conciliators as
part of the justice-delivery system. This would drastically bring down the pendency of cases
by accelerating disposal of such cases. In California, U.S., where the systems of mediation,
conciliation and pretrial settlement have been introduced only two decades ago, it has been
found that 94% of cases are referred for settlement through one or the other of the ADR
systems and 46% of such cases are settled without contest.

The result is that California has been able to achieve the goal of final decision of civil
cases within a period of less than 2 years from the date of institution. The mediators and
conciliators shall have to be trained so as to acquire professional expertise in the art of
mediation and conciliation in India. The constitutional validity of amendments made to
Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure incorporating Alternative Disputes Resolution
methods have been upheld by the Supreme Court of India in a recently decided case. (2.
Supreme Court of India, Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu v. Union of India,
decided on August 2, 2005.

Some of the relevant sections from the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 are quoted
as under:

Section 19

1. Central, State, District and Taluk Legal Services Authority has been created who are
responsible for organizing Lok Adalats.
2. Conciliators for Lok Adalat comprise the following:
a. A sitting or retired judicial officer.
b. Other persons of repute as may be prescribed by the State Government in
consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court.

Page | 29
Section 20: Reference of Cases

Cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat as under:

1. By consent of both the parties to the disputes.


2. One of the parties makes an application for reference.
3. Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken
congnizance of by the Lok Adalat.
4. Compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of justice, equity, fair play
and other legal principles.
5. Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation, the matter shall be
returned to the concerned Court for disposal in accordance with Law.

Section 21

After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties, award is passed by the
conciliators. The matter need not be referred to the concerned Court for consent decree. The
Act provisions envisage as under:

1. Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed as decree of Civil Court.


2. Every award made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to
the dispute.
3. No appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat.

Section 22

Every proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings for the
purpose of:

1. Summoning of Witnesses.
2. Discovery of documents.
3. Reception of evidences.
4. Requisitioning of Public record.

Finality of Lok Adalat Award

Page | 30
One issue which raises its head often is the finality of the award of the Lok Adalat.
During the Lok Adalat, the parties agree to abide by the decision of the Judge at the Lok
Adalat. However, it is often seen that later, the same order is challenged on several grounds.
In one of the recent decisions, the Supreme Court of India has once again laid to rest all such
doubts. In unequivocal terms, the Court has held that award of the Lok Adalat is as good as
the decree of a Court. The award of the Lok Adalat is fictionally deemed to be decree of
Court and therefore the Courts have all the powers in relation thereto as it has in relation to a
decree passed by itself. This, includes the powers to extend time in appropriate cases. The
award passed by the Lok Adalat is the decision of the Court itself though arrived at by the
simpler method of conciliation instead of the process of arguments in Court. (Supreme
Court of India, P.T. Thomas v. Thomas Job38)

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 Adalat under 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.39 By virtue of Section 21, the award of the Lok Adalat shall be
deemed to be a decree of a civil Court and shall be final and binding to all the parties to the
dispute.

It is also final against the court and even the court which has referred the case to Lok-
Adalat cannot became functus officio, to decide the case after the award passed by Lok
Adalat.40 Therefore, an award passed by statutory court conducted by any of the authorities,
as per the provisions of the Act, cannot be challenged through the regular remedies available
under the law, including under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.41

While adding the rational of the finality in the nature for the award of the Lok-Adalat
Madhya Pradesh High Court held -

38
Decided on August 4, 2005, Appeal (Civil) 4677 of 2005, (Arising Out of S.L.P. (C) No. 20179/2003); AIR
2005 SC 3575.)
39
P. T. Thomas v. Thomas Job AIR 2005 SC 3575 [para 22]; 2005 AIR SCW 4593
40
Valarmathi Oil Industries v. Saradhi Ginning Factory AIR 2009 MADRAS 180 [Para 14]
41
P. K. Rajeswari v. P. K. Sooraj Kumar AIR 2006 KERALA 137 [Para 5]. P. T. Thomas v. Thomas Job,
(2005) 8 SCC 478 : (AIR 2005 SC 3575), Thomas Job v. P. T. Thomas AIR 2004 Ker 47, Moni
Mathai v. Federal Bank of India AIR 2003 Ker 164 followed.

Page | 31
"The provisions of the Act shall prevail in the matter of filing an appeal and an
appeal would not lie under the provisions of Section 96 C.P.C. Lok Adalat is
conducted under an independent enactment and once the award is made by Lok
Adalat the right of appeal shall be governed by the provisions of the Legal Services
Authorities Act when it has been specifically barred under Provisions of Section
21(2), no appeal can be filed against the award under Sec. 96 C.P.C." The Court
further stated that "It may incidentally be further seen that even the Code of Civil
Procedure does not provide for an appeal under Section 96(3) against a consent
decree. The Code of Civil Procedure also intends that once a consent decree is passed
by Civil Court finality is attached to it. Such finality cannot be permitted to be
destroyed, particularly under the Legal Services Authorities Act, as it would amount
to defeat the very aim and object of the Act with which it has been enacted, hence, we
hold that the appeal filed is not maintainable.42

Award of Lok Adalat and Judicial Review

One of the objectives of Lok Adalat is to settle the disputes, which are pending before
the courts by negotiations, conciliation and by adopting persuasive common sense and
humane approach to the problems of the disputants. This can help to put an end to the
disputes summarily and thereby reduce the burden of the courts. As provided by the Legal
Services Authorities Act, 1987 Lok Adalat decides the matter on a consent or compromise
basis and there is no need either to reconsider or review the matter again and again. The
award passed by the Lok Adalat is final and binding on the concerned parties.

However, the consent of the parties must be clear, agreed upon and without any fraud
and misrepresentation.

This shows that matter of consented decree need not go in appeal, specifically when it
is expressly provided by the Act itself. However, the power of judicial review in such a case
is not barred and is implicit in the Constitution of India unless expressly excluded by the
provisions of statute itself. Here, it is submitted that, there is always a scope to go for a writ
petition to challenge the award in case of any grave illegality. There is always a possibility of
fraud, misrepresentation, coercion etc, while arriving at the consent or compromise. The
likelihood of such event cannot be ruled out in Lok Adalat proceedings.

42
Punjab National Bank v. Lakshmichand Rah reported in AIR 2000 Madhya Pradesh 301, 304,

Page | 32
Accordingly, in Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhav v. State of Gujarat,43it was held that,
in case, Lok Adalat exceeds its powers, committed an error of law, breach of rules of Natural
Justice or abused its powers, the award passed by it cannot be tolerated and it will justify the
interference by courts under Article 226 and Article 32 of the Constitution of India.

As far as the question of appeal and judicial review is considered in case of Permanent
Lok Adalat, the position is different as there is no provision of appeal but is also not
expressly excluded by the provisions of the said Act.44 Here, however, the Permanent Lok
Adalat does not simply adopt the role of an Arbitrator whose award could be the subject
matter of challenge but the role of an adjudicator. The Parliament has given the authority to
the Permanent Lok Adalat to decide the matter.

Court, however categorically expressed that there is not as much of scope for the
review of the award passed by the Lok-Adalat. Specially, u/s 96 (3) of C.P.C., 1908, no
remedy is available and as the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 is special legislation, the
remedy shall be sought under that act, and not under procedural law. Such award can only be
challenged and open for judicial review on limited grounds.45
Award of the Lok-Adalat is open to challenge and subject to judicial review on the
grounds such as,

43
http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/lok-a.htm, visited on 16/01/2012.
44
This may be because the Permanent Lok Adalats differ from Lok-Adalat in several respects. The former has
power to act both as conciliator and adjudicator, whereas, the latter only has to restrict its role as conciliator. See
for more detail for the role of Permanent Lok-Adalat, United India Insurance Co. Ltd vs Ajay Sinha And
Another on 13 May, 2008, [Bench: Justice V Sirpurkar, Justice S. B Sinha, judgement delivered by Justice S.B.
Sinha], the court describe,
'....the Permanent Lok Adalat does not simply adopt the role of an Arbitrator whose award could be the subject
matter of challenge but the role of an adjudicator. The Parliament has given the authority to the Permanent Lok
Adalat to decide the matter. It has an adjudicating role to play.' [Para 26].' Available at
http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1100992/ visited on 05.02.2011
45
A.P. High Court in Board of Trustees of the Port of Visakhapatnam v. Presiding Officer, Permanent, Lok
Adalat-cum-Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Visakha-patnam and
another reported in 2000(5) ALT 577 [2000 Lab IC 3735] held,
"The award is enforceable as a decree and it is final. In all fours, the endeavour is only to see that the disputes
are narrowed down and make the final settlement so that the parties are not again driven to further litigation or
any dispute. Though the award of a Lok Adalat is not a result of a contest on merits just as a regular
suit by a Court on a regular trial, however, it is as equal and on par with a decree on compromise and will have
the same binding effect and conclusive just as the decree passed on the compromises cannot be challenged in a
regular appeal, the award of the Lok Adalat being akin to the same, cannot be challenged by any regular
remedies available under law including invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the
correctness of the award on any ground. Judicial review cannot be invoked in such awards especially on the
grounds as raised in this writ petition.
See also, P. T. Thomas v. Thomas Job AIR 2005 SC 3575 [para 24]; 2005 AIR SCW 4593. For ratio and limit
of jurisdiction of Lok Adalat on 'Compromise and settlement, See, "Shashi Prateek v. Charan Singh Verma"
AIR 2009 ALLAHABAD 109

Page | 33
a) Fraud and misrepresentation
b) Absence of free Consent, absence of parities or any parties or
consent not proper
c) By coercion, or pressuring the parties to refer the matter to Lok-Adalat by Court
d) No dispute existed between the parties for resolving or settling
e) Impair the interest of the minor
f) Totally arbitrary and unreasonable
g) If the award is observed to be without the parties having
voluntarily, out of their own accord, without a free will, have
entered into settlement.
h) Ex-parte or Ex-facie judgment without compromise and
settlement.
i) Production of Succession Certificate -cannot be considered as
consent
j) If the parties are not heard in the matter.
k) Procedural lapses.
l) Related to non-compoundable offence.
m) Without jurisdiction and contravenes the principles of justice,
equity and fair-play.
n) If court overstep its power while referring the matter to Lok-Adalat.

Page | 34
CHAPTER 5

Organisation of Lok Adalat

Section 19 of the Act states that The State Authority and District Authority, Supreme
Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee and Taluk Legal
Services Committee (mentioned in Section 19 of the Act) can organize Lok Adalats at such
intervals and places as may be deemed fit.

Every Lok Adalat so organized shall consist of:

a) Serving or retired judicial officers,


b) other persons, as may be specified.

The experience and qualification of other persons in a Lok Adalat conducted by


Supreme Court Legal Services Committee shall be prescribed by the Central Government in
consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

At present, Rule 13 of the National Legal Services Authorities Rules, 1995 prescribes
such experience and qualifications as:

a) A member of the legal profession; or


b) A person of repute who is specially interested in the implementation of the Legal
Services Schemes and Programmes; or
c) An eminent social worker who is engaged in the upliftment of weaker sections of
people, including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children, rural and
urban labour.

The experience and qualification of other persons mentioned in clause (b) shall be
prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court.

At present, Rule 13 of the Kerala State Legal Services Authorities Rules, 1998 prescribes
the experience and qualifications as:

1. Eminent social workers who are engaged in the upliftment of Scheduled Castes,
Scheduled Tribes, women, children, rural and urban labour and other weaker sections
of the society;

Page | 35
2. Advocates of standing; or
3. Persons of repute who are specially interested in the implementation of the Legal
Services Schemes and programmes.

Definition of Court

According to Section 2 (1) (aaa) of the Act Court means a civil, criminal or revenue court
and includes any tribunal or any other authority constituted under any law for the time being
in force, to exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions.

Jurisdiction of Lok Adalat

According to Section 19(5) 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:

i. any case pending before; or


ii. any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of, and is not brought before, any
court for which the Lok Adalat is organised.

The Lok Adalat can compromise and settle even criminal cases, which are compoundable
under the relevant laws.

Page | 36
Cognizance of Pending Cases & Determination

Section 20 of the Act says:

A. On Application:

i. When all the parties to the case agree for referring the case to Lok Adalat, or
ii. When one of the party to the case makes an application to court, praying to refer the
case to Lok Adalat and the court is prima facie satisfied that there are chances for
settlement

B. Suo Moto:

Where the court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of, by
the Lok Adalat.

Then, the court shall refer the case to the Lok Adalat, after giving a reasonable opportunity
for hearing to all the parties.

Further, the Authority or Committee organising Lok Adalat may, on application from any
party to a dispute, refer the said dispute to Lok Adalat, after giving a reasonable opportunity
for hearing to all the parties.

Lok Adalat shall proceed to dispose of a case refereed to it expeditiously.


Shall be guided by principles of law, justice, equity and fair play.
Shall yearn to reach a settlement or compromise between parties.
When no compromise or settlement is accomplished, the case is to be returned to the
court which referred it. Then the case will proceed in the court from the stage
immediately before the reference.

Page | 37
Powers of Lok Adalat

A Lok Adalat has the following powers:

(1) The Lok Adalat shall have the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure,
1908, while trying a suit, in respect of the following matters.

a) Power to summon and enforce the attendance of any witness and to examine him/her
on oath.
b) Power to enforce the discovery and production of any document.
c) Power to receive evidence on affidavits,
d) Power for requisitioning of any public record or document or copy thereof or from
any court.
e) Such other matters as may be prescribed.

(2) Every Lok Adalat shall have the power to specify its own procedure for the determination
of any dispute coming before it.

(3) All proceedings before a Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the
meaning of Sections 193, 219 and 228 of IPC

(4) Every Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for the purpose of Sec 195 and
Chapter XXVI of Cr.P.C.

Page | 38
CHAPTER 6

Important Precedents

a) Thomas v. Thomas Job 46

The award of the Lok Adalat is fictionally deemed to be decrees of the Court and
therefore the courts have all the powers in relation thereto as it has in relation to a decree
passed by itself. This includes powers to extend time in appropriate cases. The award passed
by the Lok Adalat is the decision of the Court itself though arrived at by a simpler method of
conciliation instead of the process of arguments in court. The effect is the same. The effort
shall be to give life and enforceability to a compromise award and to defeat it on technical
grounds. The award of Lok Adalat is final and permanent which is equivalent to a decree
executable and the same is ending to the litigation among parties. Held 2003 (3) KLT 936 not
good law.

b) Thomas v. Florence47

Which court to execute the award of the Lok Adalat? It would be the court of
competent jurisdiction that would have entertained the matter for trial, had the matter not
been settled in the Lok Adalat.

c) Krishnakumari v. Venugopal 48

Settlement arrived at by the Lok Adalat shall be guided by the principles of natural
justice, equity, fair play and other legal principles. Lok Adalats are not meant to bring down
the pendency of cases somehow. When matters over which Family Courts are having
jurisdiction are dealt with by Lok Adalats, the decisions arrived at must be in consonance
with the provisions contained in Section 9 of the Family Courts Act. Award can be interfered
with by the High Court, under Articles 226 and 227 of Constitution, if a patent illegality is
involved.

d) Chandran v. Prakasan 49

46
2005 (3) KLT 1042 SC
47
2006 (3) KLT 717
48
2005 (2) KLT 185

Page | 39
The finality of the award of the Lok Adalat will not bridle the power of the Court to
re-determine or cancel the maintenance as provided for u/Sec 127 of Cr.P.C.

e) State of Karnataka v.Gurunath50

As per the charge sheet, the offence is u/Sec 326 which is not compoundable. But the
medical certificates make out only an offence u/Sec 324 which is compoundable. The
reference to Lok Adalat is valid.

f) State of Punjab v. Phulan Rani51

Difference between the terms compromise and settlement. Compromise means


settlement of difference by mutual concessions. Settlement denotes termination of legal
proceedings by mutual settlements.

g) Moni Mathai Others v. Federal Bank Ltd.52

Lok Adalat shall not take advantage of ignorance of a party and close their eyes to the
legal effect of the terms of settlement.

h) Sailendra Narayan Bhanja Deo v. The State of Orissa53

The judgment by consent or default is as effective an estoppel between the parties as


judgment whereby the court exercise its mind on a contested case.

Significance of Lok Adalat

Camps of Lok Adalat were started initially in Gujarat in March 1982 and now
it has been extended throughout the Country. The evolution of this movement was a
part of the strategy to relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases. The

49
2005 (4) KLT 1038
50
2000 Crl.L.J. 1192 (Karnataka
51
AIR 2004 SC 4105 / 2004 (7) SCC 555
52
2003 (1) KLJ 406
53
AIR 1956 SC 346 (Crmnl. Bnch)

Page | 40
reason to create such camps were only the pending cases and t o give relief to the
litigants who were in a queue to get justice.Seekers of justice are in millions and it is
becoming rather difficult for the Courts to cope up with the ever-increasing cases with
the present infrastructure and manpower. Courts are clogged with cases. There is
serious problem of overcrowding of dockets. Because of the ever -increasing number
of cases the Court system is under great pressure. Therefore, if there was at the
threshold a permanent mechanism or machinery to settle the matters a t a pre-trial
stage, many matters would not find their way to the Courts.

Similarly, if there are permanent forums to which Courts may refer cases, the
load of cases could be taken off the Courts.In order to reduce the heavy demand on
Court time, cases must be resolved by resorting to 'Alternative Dispute Resolution'
Methods before they enter the portals of Court.

Here comes the significance of Lok Adalat which has showed its significance
by settling huge number of Third Party claims referred by Motor Accident Claim
Tribunal (MACT). Except matters relating to offences, which are not compoundable, a
Lok Adalat has jurisdiction to deal with all matters. Matters pending or at pre -trial
stage, provided a reference is made to it by a court or by the concerned a uthority or
committee, when the dispute is at a pre-trial stage and not before a Court of Law it can
be referred to Lok Adalat. Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act
1987, and one of the aims for the enactment of this Act was to organize Lo k Adalat to
secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice on the basis of an equal
opportunity.

The Act gives statutory recognition to the resolution of disputes by compromise


and settlement by the Lok Adalats. The concept has been gathered f rom system of
Panchayats, which has roots in the history, and culture of this Country. It has a native
flavour known to the people. The provisions of the Act based on indigenous concept
are meant to supplement the Court system. They will go a long way in r esolving the
disputes at almost no cost to the litigants and with minimum delay. At the same time,
the Act is not meant to replace and supplants the Court system. The Act is a
legislative attempt to decongest the Courts from heavy burden of cases. There is a
need for decentralization of justice.

Page | 41
Since April 1985, Lok Adalats have been exclusively organized for settlement
of motor third party claims. Although the concept of Lok Adalat was very much vogue
claims through this medium as both claimants do and the Insurance company get
benefit out of it. That is the reason why Insurance Companies are interested in settling
Third Party claims by Lok Adalats.

The increase in cases in Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT) and backlog
of pending cases pressed the insurer and the judicial system to think about the quick
disposal oriented system like Lok Adalat/Conciliatory forums should be utilized to
optimum level.Lok Adalat now is playing sole role in solving disputes and settling
MACT cases. It has become a Dispute Management Institution. It is an informal
system of dispute resolution. This is the expeditious method to settle large number of
MACT claims. It is the best provisions by the effort of judiciary. Disposal through
Lok Adalat is the only panacea for controlling the arrears of cases. Insurance
Company can save additional interest.

The greatest challenge that the justice delivery system faces today is the delay in
disposal of cases and prohibitive cost of litigation. ADR was thought of as a weapon to meet
this challenge. Justice Mali math Committee in 1990 stressed the importance of ADR
mechanism to supplement the legal forum with a view to relieve law courts of the burden of
overflowing dockets.54

Lok Adalats, perhaps, because the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 which
envisages constitution of legal services authorities to provide free and competent legal service
to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not
denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities and to organize Lok Adalats
to see that operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity.
The alternative modes of settlement of disputes have been given impetus by the amendments
to the Recent Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, s. 89,
courts have been empowered to explore the possibilities of settlement of disputes through
Lok Adalats, arbitration and conciliation.

54
K.A. Abdul Gafoor, J., The Concept of Permanent Lok Adalat and the Legal Services Authorities Amendment
Act, 2002, (2003) 5 SCC (Jour) 33.

Page | 42
Barring matters relating to an offence not compoundable under any law, the Lok
Adalat has jurisdiction to determine and arrive at a compromise in respect of any case which
falls within its jurisdiction. Taking cognisance of the cases by Lok Adalats is governed by s.
2055, which states:

It may be inferred that after the establishment of lok adalats, ithas done a
commendable job in speedy disposal of cases even though much more is needed to be done in
this arena, nevertheless its worth mentioning. The legislature has also done a commendable
job by removing every kind of possible difficulties for the smooth functioning of this eminent
feature of the judiciary.

The most important aspect brought in by the legislature in this regard in that the
award of the Lok Adalat is not made subject to any appeal. However in certain conditions it is
made subject to an appeal.

According to s. 21, award of Lok Adalat is fictionally deemed as decree of court. As


the award passed by the Lok Adalat is deemed to a decree of a civil court, execution may be
carried out, and any contrary view execution may be carried out, and any contrary view might
defeat the purpose of Lok Adalats and the award such passed by it is taken to be final and so
appeal will lie from such award.

The provision of the Act has been very well illustrated in the case of P.T Thomas vs.
Thomas Job56decided on 04 August 2005. The prime question before the Apex Court was
whether an award passed by a Lok Adalat may be questioned in a court of appeal. The Apex
Court observed that the award of the Lok Adalat is fictionally deemed to be decree of a court
and therefore the courts will have all the powers in relation thereto as it has in relation to a
decree passed by it. Such award will be passed by the Lok Adalat after 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 will be final. Even as under the Code of Civil Procedure,

55
Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, s. 20(1) wherein any case referred to in s. 19(5)(i)(a), cl. (i) the parties
thereof agree; or (b) one of the parties thereof makes and application to the court, for referring the case to the
lok adalat for settlement and if such court is prima facie satisfied that there are chances of such settlement; or
(ii) the court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognisance of by the lok adalat; the
court will refer the case to the lok adalat: Provided that no case will be referred to the Lok Adalat under sub-cl.
(b) of cls. (i) or (ii) by such court except after giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the parties.
56
2005 (3) KLT 1042 SC

Page | 43
1908, s. 96, no appeal will lie from a decree passed by the court with the consent of the
parties.

In this context, it is worth mentioning, Punjab National Bank v. Lakshmichand Rai,57


where the high court held that the provisions of the enactment will prevail in the matter of
filing an appeal and an appeal may not lie under the provisions of the Code of Civil
Procedure, 1908, s. 96. Lok Adalat is conducted under an independent enactment and once
the award is made by Lok Adalat, the right of appeal will be governed by the provisions of
the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and appeal may be when it has been specifically
barred under provisions of s. 21(2), no appeal may be filed against the award under the Code
of Civil Procedure, 1908, s.96.

The court further stated that it may incidentally be further seen that even the Code of
Civil Procedure, 1908 does not provide for an appeal under s. 96 against a consent decree.
The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 also intends that once a consent decree is passed by civil
court finality is attached to it. Such finality may not be permitted to be destroyed, particularly
under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, as it may amount to defeat the very aim and
object of the enactment with which it has been enacted; hence, we hold that the appeal filed is
not maintainable.

In a similar observation58 the High Court of Andhra Pradesh held that, the award is
enforceable as a decree and it is final. In all four, the endeavour is only to see that the
disputes are narrowed down and make the final settlement so that the parties are not again
driven to further litigation or any dispute. Though the award of a Lok Adalat is not a result of
a contest on merits just as a regular suit by a court on a regular suit by a court on a regular
trial, however, it is as equal and on par with a decree on compromise and will have the same
binding effect and conclusive just as the decree passed on the compromises may not be
challenged in a regular appeal, the award of the Lok Adalat being akin to the same, may not
be challenged by any regular remedies available under law including invoking the
Constitution of India, art.226 challenging the correctness of the award on any ground. The

57
2000 INDLAW MP 201, AIR 2000 MP 301
58
Board of Trustees of the Port of Visakhapatnam vs. Presiding Officer, Permanent, Lok Adalat cum- Secretary,
District Legal Services Authority, Visakhapatnam, 2000 (5) ALD 682; also refer to Raja Sri Sailendra Narayan
Bhanja Deo vs. State of Orissa, 1956 INDLAW SC

Page | 44
award of Lok Adalat is final and permanent which is equivalent to a decree executable, and
the same is amending to the litigation among parties.

However in certain circumstances, court may entertain an appeal for questioning an


award passed by the Lok Adalat. This aspect was very well explained by the Karnataka High
Court, on 03 August 2001 in The Commissioner, Karnataka State Public Instruction
(Education), Bangalore v. Nirupadi Virbhadrappia Shiva Simp.59

The question was whether high court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Arts. 226
and 227 may interfere in matter to put at rest impugned order in face of s. 21(2) which bars
any appeal to any court against award power of judicial review in given case is implicit
under Constitution unless expressly excluded by provisions of Constitution.

In this case, the petitioners had challenged the award passed by the Lok Adalat. The
writ petition had brought in certain important questions of law which certainly had a big
bearing on the functioning of Lok Adalats. The petitioner among other issues had raised that
is the role of Lok Adalat limited to merely striving to bring about a compromise or can it go
beyond that and decide the dispute even where one of the parties to the dispute is not
agreeable for a compromise but is keen to fight it out on merits. Along with the previous
issue, the petitioner had also sought for clarification as to what is the remedy available to the
state when it is facing the wrong end of the stick as a result of an order passed by the Lok
Adalat. Should the order be final or is it open to challenge under Arts.226 and 227 of the
Constitution of India?

The Honble High Court observed that the order in the case does not bear out that the
parties were subsequently heard on the question of reference, except noting their presence.
The power to refer the case to Lok Adalat vested in the civil court under s. 20 of the
enactment being subject to the rider as contained in the proviso; any reference either under
Sub-cl. (b) of cls. (i) or (ii) will be invalid if the parties are not heard in the matter. When the
reference made is not valid in the eye of law, the Lok Adalat would not derive jurisdiction to
determine any dispute and the Lok Adalat may not take cognizance of the case under s. 20
sub-s. 3. The civil court even if prima facie is satisfied under cl. I, sub-cl. b that there are
chances of settlement, still it is barred from acting there under if s. 20 proviso is not complied
with by giving a reasonable opportunity. Compliance with the proviso to s. 20 is condition

59
2001 INDLAW KAR 359, 2001 AIR(KAR) 504.

Page | 45
precedent for reference by the civil court. The civil court even if prima facie is satisfied under
cl. (i), sub-cl. (b) that there are chances of settlement, still it is barred from acting there under
if the s. 20 proviso is not complied with by giving a reasonable opportunity. Compliance with
the s. 20 proviso is condition precedent for reference by the civil court.

The next obvious question that comes forward and has also put in the forefront is as to
what must happen to such an order and whether the high court in exercise of its jurisdiction
under the Constitution of India, art. 226 and 227 may interfere in the matter to put at rest the
impugned order in the face of s. 21(2)which bars any appeal to any court against the award of
the Lok Adalat. The court observed that the power of judicial review in a given case is
implicit under the Constitution unless expressly excluded by a provision of the Constitution.
This power is available to correct any order passed by a statutory authority which is violating
of any of the provisions of the statute. The Lok Adalat is a creation of statute and gets
jurisdiction from it and hence this court is competent to go into an order passed by it, to
decide whether the order in question is valid in law. The writ jurisdiction of the high court
may not be circumscribed by provisions of any enactment as is to be found in s. 21 and it may
always exercise its jurisdiction if an order, left alone, would amount to abrogating the rule of
law.

Therefore it may be inferred that an award passed by the Lok Adalat is final and no
appeal lies against such award but however if the court referring a matter to the Lok Adalat
fails to adhere with the provisions laid down in the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 then
such award will be null and void and will not be a binding on the parties and the matter will
revert back to the referring court.

In Khatri Vs. State of Bihar,it has been held that the Constitutional duty to provide
legal aid arise from the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time
Continues whenever he had produced for remand.

In Madav Hayavadanrao Hoskot vs. State of Maharastra, it has been held that a
person entitled to appeal against his/her sentence has the right to ask for a counsel, to prepare
and argue the appeal.

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Section 304 of Criminal Procedure Code also provides that if the accused does not
have sufficient means to engage a lawyer, the court must provide one for the defence of the
accused at the expense of the state.

Beside this The Magistrates and sessions judges must inform every accused who
appears before them and who is not represented by a lawyer on account of his poverty or
indigence that he is entitled to free legal services at the cost of the State.

'February 7th, 2010'

Mega Lok Adalat at Delhi on 7th Feb2010 for ICICI Bank Customers

Indias first completely paperless digital Lok Adalat will be held in New Delhi on
Sunday (8th February). It will try civil and criminal cases related to ICICI Bank, Delhi Legal
Services Authority (DLSA) Project Officer Sanjay Sharma said.

Litigants involved in cheque-bounce cases would be able to avail of a digital Lok


Adalat at five district courts in New Delhi. In these digital courts 100 magistrates would
resolve matters related to ICICI Bank.

Mr. Sharma said that, litigants can access data through ICICI Banks centralized
database by just mentioning the credit card number, housing and auto loan number and
unique ID number of the case.

After furnishing all details by the litigant, a computer printout would be generated
consisting of essential details like the unique ID number of case and name of the court that
would help ICICI representatives present their view to resolve the matter.

Mr. Sharma further added that, in case the accused or defendant and ICICI agree to
settle the matter, the statement would be recorded in the perform an order sheets. To deal
with the mounting backlog of cases of coequal bounce, the five district courts will take up
over one lakh such cases in a mega Lok Adalat on February 8. The Lok Adalat will be fully
sponsored by the ICICI Bank, which mooted the idea in the first place.

The Lok Adalat, according to bank officials, was planned keeping in mind the huge
backlog of cases pertaining to the Negotiable Instruments Act.

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On January 7, the bank sent the proposal to the Delhi Legal Services Authority, which
approved it. Soon, the bank sent a list of 1.1 lakh cases for immediate settlement.

The DLSA has divided the cases into categories like home loan, credit card, auto loan
and personal loan, which will be taken up by 100 metropolitan magistrates. These cases will
be settled through the three-fold mechanism of withdrawal, rescheduling and instalments.

To facilitate instant disposal of these cases, the DLSA has set up a centralised server
containing details of the 1.1 lakh cases. This server will be connected to computers in the five
courts. Once a case is settled, its file will be sent to the concerned judge for disposal.

Special counters will be set up for female litigants, disabled persons and senior
citizens. The concept is unique, as a litigant can walk into any district court complex,
irrespective of where the case is pending, and can reach a settlement. Supreme Court Judge
Arijit Pasayat will preside over the inaugural ceremony of the digital Lok Adalat.

Our purpose was to make the mechanism litigant-friendly and fetch maximum results
within the stipulated time period, Sanjay Sharma, project officer, DLSA, said.

Criticism

The system of lok adalat is not without limitations. Conflicting views have been
expressed on the advisability of the new institution of lok adalats. They are meant to
supplement the judicial process and not to supplant it. Also it is being said that when
conciliation becomes the norm, peoples attitude to resort to court will change. On the other
hand, it is being suggested that with the giving of statutory basis, the informality of lok adalat
will disappear and every technicality that bogs down regular courts will creep into the lok
adalats and a parallel court system under a different label may emerge. The permanent lok
adalats are conciliation-cum-arbitration tribunals to settle disputes between selected public
utility service and individuals. It appears that recourse to these tribunals in preference to civil
court is unlikely. Public utility services would rather compel the private parties to have
recourse to legal redress instead of, they themselves seeking it and private parties likely to
prefer civil courts, to these new institutions. In consequences, these new institutions might be

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of very little use in reducing the burden of courts. There are many other loopholes which are
discussed below:

1. Adjudication before a Lok Adalat is by consent, if one party does not agree, the case
goes back to the court. If there is no consent, there is no decision;
2. The procedure of Lok Adalat - organizing, conducting and awarding of Lok Adalat is
becoming rigid especially after the enforcement of the Legal Services Authorities Act,
1987;
3. The goal of the Lok Adalat is to affect a compromise but in mass scale disposal of
cases in Lok Adalats, it is difficult to expect that compromise settlements of mutual
benefits would be searched for;
4. The legislation has given the judiciary an almost exclusive role inorganizing Lok
Adalat and directed the observance of norms the judiciary adhere to in adjudication.
There is little role for people especially trained in negotiation, mediation and
conciliation;
5. In the name of the speedy resolution of the disputes the fair interests of the parties are
sacrificed. The case of Manju Gupta vs. National Insurance Company, demonstrates
the sad state of compromises and settlements in Lok Adalats denying the fair
minimum claims of the petitioners. The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 emphasis on speedy
resolution of the claim but due to inordinate delay the claimants settle at the lowest
compensation with the insurance companies; and

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6. A major drawback of Lok Adalats is that its emphasis is on a compromise or
settlement between the parties. If the parties do not arrive at any compromise, either
the case is returned to the court of law or the parties are advised to seek remedy in a
court of law.

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CHAPTER 7

Goal of Lok Adalat: Measures for its Achievement

There is a Latin maxim that interest reipublicae ut sit finish litimus it is the interest
of the State that there should be an end of law suits.

The concept of Lok Adalat is based upon to achieve this goal. In Lok Adalat the cases
are decided on the basis of amicable settlement. Settlement by compromise ends litigation. A
Lok Adalat is a rustic tribunal based on the concept of village panchayat. Most of the
litigation in our Court is rural. A judicial system based on common law and strict rules of
procedure is not common law and strict rules of procedure is not suited to our primitive rural
society. Therefore a different system is needed. The concept of Lok Adalat derives from this
requirement. Lengthy procedure and healthy life of litigation also contribute to develop
something different from ordinary law Courts.

As nomenclature denotes it is a Court of ordinary masses where a litigant can express


his grievances by open mind, without hesitation and directly to the Court. It is something
different from Court of law. It aims towards conciliation between confliction interest and
justice. When conciliation fails a Lok Adalat is not empowered to adjudicate the matter
except in case of public utility services. Therefore the scope of Lok Adalat is limited to cases
when parties are at settlement and have resolved their disputes. In our civil and criminal
procedural law there is an effective provision for compounding of offences and compromise
of cases. The parties can very well settle their disputes and end the litigation in regular
Courts. When there is a provision for compromise and Courts generally accept the
compromise application, then what is the need to constitute another forum or compromise?
The answer is that a settlement between the parties takes place on the basis of positive advice
and good counselling which cannot be possible in regular Courts. Therefore a different
tribunal is needed in which the pedestal of high office does not appear and the parties are able
to express their mind and the person behind the bench can also reciprocate the same. With the
above object a social worker and advocates are also included in the Bench. In order to
achieve a fruitful result of the concept of Lok Adalat, a pragmatic provision u/S. 89 C.P.C.
have been included in which a duty is canst upon the Court to formulate the terms of
settlement and after observation, the Court refer the same of arbitration, conciliation, judicial
settlement through Lok Adalat or mediation.

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Although our judicial machinery is very keen to achieve the high graph of figures of
case settled in Lok Adalat but even then the system is not providing good results. The regular
Courts send a number of cases to the Lok Adalat but only few are settled. In most of the case
litigants are absent in the Court or sometimes one party may come but other party may not
come. Sometimes both the parties are present but their counsel may not be present. According
to section 8 of the scheme of Lok Adalat, in Madhya Pradesh the sitting of Lok Adalat are
held only on holidays or Sundays. In holidays and Sundays most of the lawyers are busy with
their clients. Only for one case it is inconvenient for them to come to the Court on holidays
therefore mostly they do not turn up. In that situation it will only be a coming and going
affairs of the judicial officers. The above circumstances frustrate the purpose of Lok Adalat.

Section 21 (1) of the Legal Services Authorities Act also provide for refund of Court
fees in cases settled in Lok Adalat. Even then the results is not encouraging. Sometimes the
parties are ready to compromise before the regular Courts but the cases are adjourned to put
the case before the Lok Adalat to provide the benefit of refund of Court fees or to achieve the
high graph of cases settled in the Lok Adalat. It seems that presently the concept of Lok
Adalat is in a primitive stage and require a new imagination to meet the above situation.
Therefore we must explore the reasons behind its unsuccessfulness and try to eradicate it.

Scheme relating to Civil Cases

(1) Every civil case is to be presented before that designated Lok Adalat
according to the amended provisions of C.P.C. The Lok Adalat may follow the procedure
provided in order 1 to 10 C.P.C. relating to parties of suit, frame of suit, institution of suits,
service of summons, pleadings, plaint, written statement, consequence of appearance and
non-appearance of parties and examination of parties.

(2) On first date when case is presented before the Lok Adalat, the plaintiff may
be asked about what is his expectation or on what term he would be able to compromise the
case. His answer is to be recorded, which may be useful for future negotiations with the
defendant.

(3) The plaintiff should pay the process fees and file the copy of plaint according
to the number of defendants with the filling of plaint. The plaintiff shall also file all the
documents. The Court may issue a summons with a copy of plaint to the defendant. When the

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defendant appear and file the written statement and the documents, the Court shall examine
both the parties as per the provisions of Order X Rule (2) C.P.C. This provision is mandatory
but are not being followed in all cases. Rule (2) & (3) are important for present purpose
which reads as follows:-

2. (1) At the first hearing of the suit, the Court

a. shall, with a view to elucidating matters in controversy in the suit, examine


orally such of the parties to the suit appearing in person or present in Court, as
it deems fit; and
b. may orally examine any person, able to answer any material question relating
to the suit, by whom any party appearing in person or present relating to the
suit, by whom any party appearing in person or present in Court or his pleader
is accompanied.

(2) At any subsequent hearing, the Court may orally examine any party appearing in
person or present in Court, or any person, able to answer any material question relating to the
suit, by whom such party or his pleader is accompanied.

(3) The Court may, if it thinks fit, put in the course of an examination under this rule
question suggested by either party.

3. The substance of the examination shall be reduced to writing by the Judge, and
shall form part of the record.

The examination of parties is much more important to the Lok Adalats. By examining
the parties a Lok Adalat would be able to know the real facts of the dispute. At this stage the
pleadings and documents have been filed. On the basis of pleadings and documents the
question asked by the Judge must disclose the facts which may not be in the pleadings and
documents. The questions may be asked to explore the possibility of settlement which may be
extended to the question ns not relating to the case or totally irrelevant with the case. After
recording the statement, the Lok Adalat may conversant with the parties and their pleaders
about possible settlement. At this juncture the counselors of the Lok Adalat may make an
effort to convince the parties and help them in making decision. Keeping in view the
pleadings, documents, statements and observation of the parties, the Lok Adalat may

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formulate the terms of compromise. It may give them to the parties for their observation and
after receiving the observation of the parties the Lok Adalat may reformulate the terms of a
possible settlement. The Court may invite the proposed compromise from both the parties. If
both the party reach at some settlement it may pass an award which may be signed by both
the parties and binding on them. In order to arrive at some settlement the Court may postpone
the proceeding for future date but the case should not be adjourned for more than three dates.

Scheme regarding criminal cases

(1) After framing the charge the criminal Court may transfer all the compundable
criminal case to the Lok Adalat. In compoundable cases the charge is to be framed on the first
date after filing of challan.

(2) The Lok Adalat shall issue a summons to the complainant or any other person
who is competent to compromise the case. When the complainant come before the Court he
may be asked to state the realities of incident any may also be asked whether he is ready for
compromise. At this juncture the Court, advocates and counselors of the Lok Adalat may
negotiate with the parties about composition. If the parties are ready to compromise, the Lok
Adalat shall acquit the accused from the charge

(3) If even after a sincere effort the Court is of opinion that the composition is not
possible, the Court shall send the record of the case with accused, complainant and other
witnesses present in the Court, to the Court having jurisdiction for trial on the same day. If it
is possible for the trial Court, it shall record the statement of the complainant and other
witnesses on same day otherwise fix another date and proceed according to law.

The above some scheme increases the burden of Lok Adalat. The successfulness of
the scheme depends much more on the competency of presiding Judge of the Lok Adalat. His
personality and legal knowledge play an important role in the process of settlement. His
judicious advice reduce the passion of parties and the fighting parties may come down and a
settlement may be possible. Therefore the services of high caliber Judges are required. So the
good and experienced Judges of the district may be deputed to the designated Lok Adalats.

Exclusion of other person from the bench of Lok Adalats

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Section 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act and the scheme of Lok Adalat made
u/S. 4(b) of the Act, provides that the bench of Lok Adalat shall comprise (i) a sitting or
retried judicial officer, (ii) a member of legal profession and (iii) a social worker preferable
woman. These private persons have been included in the bench of Lok Adalat with a view to
provide a considered and justified advice to the litigants so that they become able to resolve
their dispute. Their position cannot be said to be more than as a counselor. The settlement or
compromise between the parties is justified or not is a matter which may be decided by the
judicial authority. The private member can play no role in this regard. The services of private
persons are no longer required for decision of a case. Therefore there is no need to include
them as member of bench instead they can be included as a counselor of the Lok Adalat.

General

(1) The counseling and compounding process shall be held in open Court with the
help of parties, their counsels, social workers, eminent persons or other law knowing persons.

(2) So many criminal cases be compounded if adequate compensation are given to


aggrieved party. The civil dispute may also be settled by paying money to the losing party,
therefore a Lok Adalat may consider about the quantum of compensation which may be
awarded to the aggrieved party in civil and criminal cases. A number of claim cases and cases
u/S. 138 Negotiable Instrument Act be compromised by negotiations with the parties about
quantum of compensation.

(3) In maintenance cases u/S. 125 CrPC and cases relating to cruelty u/s. 498 A
IPC, the counseling and conciliation proceedings be held in Camera. In case of failure of
settlement the Court shall record the real cause of dispute between husband and wife which
may be considered during trial.

(4) In other cases also if conciliation or settlement fails, a Lok Adalat shall record
the cause of dispute and reasons for its failure, while deciding the case the trial Court shall
take it into account.

Required legislative changes to implement the scheme:

(1) The implementation of above scheme require that a Lok Adalat function
parallel to the ordinary Courts. If there is mandatory provision that every case is to be

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presented before a Lok Adalat then it require a regular sitting. Therefore the provision
regarding holidays sitting must be deleted.

(2) Section 89 has been inserted in CPC in the year 1999 but even after passes of
6-7 years no Courts are referring the cases to other institutions. A person come before the
Court for adjudication or settlement of his dispute. It is not justified to delegate this job to
some other forum. People may not trust upon them. Therefore the provision regarding
reference of cases become redundant. The above scheme provides for presentation of cases
directly to the designated Lok Adalat and it also provide the formulation of terms of
settlement by the Lok Adalat itself. The idea of formulation of terms of compromise by the
Lok Adalat is important. It provides clues to the litigants to reach at a settlement. But as
stated above, it is not good if the terms of compromise are made by the trial Court. Therefore,
in the light of above scheme and reasons stated above, the whole provision of section 89
become inapplicable and be deleted.

(3) In the year 1999 when Section 89 has been inserted in CPC, simultaneously
Rule 1A, 1B, 1C has also been included in Order 10 CPC which provides for the direction of
the Court to parties to opt either mode of the settlement outside the Court as specified in sub-
section (1) of Section 89. These provisions also provides for fixing of dates of appearance
before such forum. But in view of the above scheme these provisions are no longer required,
therefore the provisions under Order 10 Rule 1-A, 1-B, 1-C be also deleted.

(4) The above scheme provides for presentation of civil cases before designated
Lok Adalat. The Lok Adalat shall try to conciliate the matter and if it is not possible to settle
the dispute it may transfer the case having jurisdiction to try the case. The above scheme
require legislative change in CPC and in the Legal Service Authorities Act.

(5) The above scheme provides of transfer of compoundable cases to designated


Lok Adalat after framing of charge. Therefore a provision be made in CrPC which makes
necessary to frame the charge in all compoundable cases on 1st date after filling of challan
and transfer of all compoundable cases to designated Lok Adalat.

(6) Section 498-A IPC be included in the list of offences mentioned in Section
320 (2) Cr.P.C

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(7) A change is needed in Section 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act not to
include other persons as a member of bench. A provision be made to utilize their services as
counselor of Lok Adalat.

(8) One other thing is also important Section 19 provides that a retired judicial
officer may also be included in the bench of Lok Adalat. The aim of Lok Adalat is to settle
the matter by convincing the parties. A retired Judge may not have a deep impact over the
parties to settle the matter. Although the may have a long experience to decide the cases but
because he is a retired person it may be possible that the parties may not concurrent with his
opinion and views. His physical and mental fitness is also important. Therefore the word or
retired judicial officers be deleted in Section 19(2) of the Legal Service Authorities Act.

(9) In the above scheme the cases are to be presented before a Lok Adalat and are
to be presented before a Lok Adalat and are to be decided by mutual consent, therefore the
provisions under Order 1 to 10 CPC as far as possible. be applicable to these decisions
regarding production of documents, examinations of witnesses, adjournments and issuance of
commission in certain cases where the circumstances of the case require so far.

(10) Section 19 & 20 of the Legal Services Authorities Act provides for
organization of Lok Adalat and cognizance of cases by it. The implementation of above
scheme require a change in the organization of Lok Adalat and cognizance by it. Therefore a
change in Section 19 & 20 (1) (2) of the Legal Services Authorities Act is required.

(11) The offence u/S. 498 A IPC arises due to distortion in marital relation of the
parties. Sometimes their dispute is resolved and they live together, in that situation a Lok
Adalat should be empowered to record the compromise even after statement of the
complainant and other witnesses or at any stage of trial.

(12) Under the above scheme to examination of parties by Lok Adalat is required
to know the real facts of the case and settlement. Under Order X Rule 2 (1) (a) C.P.C. this
examination is necessary with a view to elucidating matter in controversy, therefore under
Order Rule 2 (1) (a) after words with a view to the words know the real facts of the case
an settlement or be inserted.

Scheme regarding pre-trial litigation

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Section 19 (5) (2) of the Legal Services Authorities Act provides that a Lok Adalat
have also jurisdiction in a matter which have not come before a Court. It means that a person
may come before a Lok Adalat even before filing a suit. In the Legal Services Authorities Act
and the scheme of Lok Adalat made there under prescribes no procedure for pre-trial
litigation. Regarding pre-trial litigation a Lok Adalat may adopt following procedure.

If a person come before a Lok Adalat without filing a suit. It may examine him about
his grievance. It may require to file all the documents. If the Lok Adalat think that there is a
prima-fact case to call the opposite party it may summons the defendant to appear in person
and file all the documents. When he appears, the court shall examine him. After examining
both the parties, the Court find out what is the dispute between the parties and on what point
it may be resolved. If both the parties agree and settle their dispute the Court shall pass an
award accordingly which is binding on them. If even after a sincere effort, the dispute is not
possible to be resolved it may advice the parties to go to the proper Court for seeking
remedies or give them the correct advice that how they can resolve their dispute and what are
their rights and liabilities.

Scheme relating to pending cases

All the pending cases in which the written statement has been filed are to be send to
the Lok Adalat. The Lok Adalat shall examine both the parties as per the provisions or Order
10 CPC with a view to find out the possibility of settlement. With the help of pleadings,
documents and statement of both parties or other persons, the Lok Adalat shall formulate the
terms of compromise and hand over them to the parties for their observation. The presiding
judge and the private members of the Lok Adalat may take active part in negotiations
between the parties. They may be helpful to give a correct advice about the rights and
liabilities of the parties and pro and cons of the proposed settlement. They may also advice
the parties as to what they may get after adjudication and much or less, what they are getting
by the proposed settlement. If the parties agrees, the Lok Adalat may pass an award which
may be signed by the parties and binding on them otherwise if they do not come at any
settlement. It may send the record of the case to the concerned Court and direct the parties to
appear before it. The concerned Court may proceed from the stage from which the case has
been sent to the Lok Adalat.

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Although the above scheme is a drastic one it transfers the original jurisdiction of civil
Court from ordinary law Court to the Lok Adalat, but in the scheme, a Lok Adalat would also
governed by rules prescribed in Orders 1 to 10. It shall also follow the other relevant rules of
C.P.C. The designated Lok Adalat is also presided by a judicial member, therefore, there is
no change in transferring the jurisdiction. From presentation of suit till examination of parties
under Order 10, the procedure followed by the Lok Adalat would be the same as followed by
the ordinary law Courts. One thing is included in the mid of journey of case, as provided in
Section 89 CPC, the Lok Adalat should formulate the terms of compromise and try to settle
the dispute. If it fails it may refer the case to the Court having jurisdiction.

Therefore the scheme provide no change in the process of trial and create no hardship
in implementing it. Some formal legislative changes are required which may be possible to
reduce the graph of 2 crore cases pending in subordinate Courts of the country. It certainly
change the present adversary system of administration of justice. The need of the hour is to
constitute a regular conciliation Court which may function parallel to the ordinary Courts.
The spirit of the above scheme is to involve the concept of Lok Adalat in a real sense and a
Lok Adalat would become a Court of public n its reality.

Recent Concept of Mobile Lok Adalat: Justice at the Door Step

Recently, the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority has introduced an


innovative scheme named as, "Scheme for Mobile Legal Services-cum- Lok Adalat". It
provides for organization of Mobile Lok Adalat. The idea behind this concept of mobile Lok
Adalat has recognized the fact that, still today the poor, needy and marginalized sections of
our society face many difficulties to approach the Court of law for enforcement of their rights
or redressal of their grievances and so the Legal Services and Lok Adalat itself would
approach them at their door step. Through this scheme, the trained and experienced judicial
officers, social activists, Law students etc. in collaboration with concerned District Legal
Services Authority, are able to visit every nook and corner of the villages including remote
tribal areas, slum Lok Adalats to resolve disputes amicably and instantly.

Thus, the concept of Lok Adalat aims at giving speedier justice at the door steps of
the parties by way of associating the community representatives and at lesser costs. The
endeavor is to enliven the Constitutional goals of 'equal and effective access to justice.

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Conclusion

The large population of India and the illiterate masses have found the regular
dispensation of justice through regular Courts very cumbersome and ineffective. The special
conditions prevailing in the Indian society and due to the economic structure,highly sensitised
legal service is required which is efficacious for the poor and ignorant masses. The Lok
Adalat movement is no more an experiment in India. It is now a success and needs to be
replicated in matters which have not yet been under the domain of Lok Adalat. May be some
brainstorming on the part of law makers, judges, lawyers and teachers would result in some
modifications so that the same model can be used effectively in business disputes. At present
there is an urgent need to have an alternative dispute resolution for business disputes which is
as good as the model of Lok Adalats. Moreover, there is a need to use the techniques used in
Lok Adalat in conflicts related to public issues where the number of players is quite large and
in most of the matters the government is also involved in one way or the other.

Lok Adalats have to reinvent after almost six months to meet the challenges
faced by the judiciary. The new branches of law will require newer tools to have decisions
acceptable to the litigants. As new branches emerge aspirations are very high. Only time
will tell how far Lok Adalat movement shall go in India and elsewhere in curbing
conflicts and disputes and in spreading harmony.

In India, courts are flooded with litigations. Thousands of cases are pending for
disposal in the Supreme Court of India, lakhs of cases are pending in the High Courts and
millions of cases are pending in the subordinate courts for disposal. In India, litigation span
of life is ordinarily running into a decade.

Lok Adalat is definitely a positive step towards access to justice particularly by poor
and down trodden of our country. The people of India have received benefits out of it without
realizing the nature and status of the institution and not bothering to know how their role is
strengthening it.

India has to be a venue for international arbitrations. New trends in litigation, such as
those related to intellectual property rights, cyber-crimes, environment, money laundering,
competition, telecom, taxation, international arbitration and so on need expertise. This could
be possible only by providing proper training to the judges of lok adalat. Establishing

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separate permanent and continuous Lok Adalats for government departments, statutory
authorities and public sector undertakings for disposal of pending cases as well as disputes at
pre-litigation stage, which is not yet done. Though this measure is thought to been taken up
by the NALSA in the year 1998 but yet not implemented. So the same must be brought into
picture as soon as possible.

Moreover, there has to be more creation of awareness to Legal Aid Schemes and
programmes under it.

Lok Adalats are certainly a big boon to the present judicial system. However lots of
work needs to be done in this sphere. More discipline must be brought into the present
system. For instance, since December 2005, over 2000 applications have been filed with the
lok adalat of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Less than 100 cases have been disposed off
till date. The claims filed with the Lok Adalats pertain to inadequate compensation for loss of
crop, land, livestock, boats and ancillary equipments, life, disability and small-scale
businesses. Also the relief packages are being interpreted contrary to the spirit of the law,
depriving most poor people of basic means of sustenance to restore their livelihood.

Lok Adalat play a very important role to advance and strengthen equal access to
justice, the heart of the Constitution of India, a reality. This Indian Constitution to the world
ADR jurisprudence needs to be taken advantage of maximum number of Lok Adalats need to
be organized to achieve the Gandhian Principle of Gram Swaraj and access to justice for
all.

During the last few years Lok Adalat has been found to be successful tool of alternate
dispute of India. It is most popular and effective because of its innovative nature and
inexpensive style. The system received wide acceptance not only from litigants, but from
public and legal functionaries in general. Also the ambit of the lok adalat must be widened
for speedier disposal of more cases.

The provision of consent must be done away with if the matter is a perfect case to be
referred to the lok adalat. Such a step will bring in more disputes to the lok adalat for the
speedy disposal of the matter. Finally, the awards of the Lok Adalats must be given precedent
value for similar disputes brought forward in the Lok Adalats. It is because the awards given
by the lok Adalats are final and in nature as no appeal may be preferred against such an

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award. Therefore, it is humbly submitted that if such steps are taken by the eminent
lawmakers of our country then we sincerely feel that 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.

The study points out that in Lok Adalats, justice has fallen victim to the desire for the
speedy resolution. Instead of trying genuine compromise, in some cases Lok Adalats try to
force an adjudicatory decision upon unwilling litigants. The right to fair hearing, which is one
of the basic principles of natural justice, is denied to the people. Many sitting and retired
judges while participating in Lok Adalats as members, tend to conduct the Lok Adalats like
courts, by hearing parties and by imposing their views as to what is just and equitable on the
parties. Sometimes they get carried away and proceed to pass order on merits even though
there is no consensus or settlement. The presiding officers should resist from the practice of
making adjudicatory decisions in the lok adalats. Such acts instead of fostering alternative
dispute resolution through Lok Adalats will drive the litigants away from the Lok Adalats.
The study stresses that the people in India should take resort to the lok adalats to get their
disputes settled in an indigenous way.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books Referred:

Clinical legal Education, N.R. Madhava Menon, Published by Eastern Book


Company, Lucknow.
The Lawand theLawyers,
GandhiM.K.,NavjivanTrust,Ahmedabad,India,1962,Reprint2001.
Public Interest Litigation, Legal Aid and Lok Adalats, Mamta Rao,3rd Edition,
Eastern Book Company, 2010.
Law relating to Lok Adalats (Legal Services Authority Act,1987), Justice
P.S.Narayan, 3rd Edition (Asia Law House)
Lok Adalat and the Poor, M.G. Chitkara, 3rd Edition, Ashish Publishing House.
Hand Book on Lok Adalat in India, Dr. (Mrs.) Nomita Aggarwal, Universal Book
Company.
Law of Arbitration and Conciliation,Avatar Singh, 9th Edition, Eastern Book
Company.
The Constitution of India, Universal Law Publications, 2010.

Articles Referred:

Rao,Varahagiri Prasada Constitution of Lok Adalats Andhra Law Times, 2001(5)


34-9.
Chief Justice Warren Burger, Dr K.S Chauhan ADR in India
Jitendra Bhatt J.A round table justice through Lok Adalat
An article by : Sayan Chakraborty and Saumya Misra

Web Sites Referred:

http://kelsa.gov.in/act1.htm
http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/lok_a.htm
http://dlsa.nic.in/lokadalat.html
http://legalservices.maharashtra.gov.in/new_page_2.htm
legalservices.maharashtra.gov.in
www.prsindia.org

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www.academia.edu

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