Lok Adalat

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In the lok adalat, cases (or disagreements) that are pending in court or that are in the pre-litigation stage (have not yet been presented before a court) are compromised or amicably resolved.

Meaning

The following is how the Supreme Court defined the significance of the Lok Adalat institution:

  • The “Lok Adalat” is a traditional type of adjudicating method that was used in ancient India and whose applicability is still applicable now. ‘Lok Adalat’ is a Hindi term that translates to ‘People’s Court. Gandhian values serve as the foundation of this system. It is one of the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) system’s components. The ordinary courts are required to decide matters involving a drawn-out, expensive, and tiresome method since the Indian courts are swamped with the backlog of cases. Even minor cases are resolved by the court after many years.
  • Therefore, the Lok Adalat offers an alternate means of resolving disputes or a plan for quick and affordable justice.
  • In Lok Adalat procedures, there are no winners and losers, and as a result, no hostility.
  • As a feasible, economical, effective, and informal alternative conflict resolution method, the experiment of “Lok Adalat” has gained acceptance in India.
  • Another alternative in judicial justice is the Lok Adalat. This is a recent method of providing informal, affordable, and quick justice to the general public by resolving legal disputes that are pending in court as well as those that have not yet reached the courts through negotiation, conciliation, and the application of a persuasive, common sense, and human approach to the disputants’ problems, with the help of specially trained and experienced members of a team of conciliators.

Regulatory Status

In Gujarat, the first Lok Adalat camp was held in the post-independence era in 1982. This initiative was quite effective at resolving conflicts. As a result, the Lok Adalat institution began to spread to other regions of the nation. At the time, this institution was operating as a conciliatory and voluntary organization without any legal authority to support its decisions. There was a clamor to give this institution and the prizes offered by Lok Adalats a statutory foundation due to its rising popularity. Thus, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 conferred legal legitimacy on the Lok Adalat institution.
The Act establishes the following rules for the Lok Adalats’ structure and operation:

  1. Lok Adalats may be organized by the State Legal Services Authority, the District Legal Services Authority, the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, the High Court Legal Services Committee, or the Taluk Legal Services Committee whenever, wherever, and for whatever purposes it sees fit.
  2. The number of active or retired judges and other local residents who make up each Lok Adalat organized for a particular area will be determined by the organization of the Lok Adalat. A lawyer (advocate), a social worker, and a judicial officer serve as the Lok Adalat’s chairman and members, respectively.
  3. Any disagreement involving:
    (i) a case that is pending before any court; (ii) an issue that is within the purview of any court but has not been presented before that court may be resolved by agreement or settlement reached by the parties.
    Thus, in addition to cases that are already in court, the Lok Adalat can also handle disagreements that are in the early stages of litigation offenses that are not punishable under a legislation that. In the Lok Ad, a variety of issues are discussed, including matrimonial and family disputes, criminal (compoundable offenses) cases, land acquisition cases, labor disputes, workmen’s compensation cases, bank recovery cases, pension cases, housing board and slum clearance cases, housing finance cases, consumer grievance cases, electricity matters, disputes relating to telephone bills, municipal issues, including house tax cases, disputes with cellular companies. The Lok Adalat, however, has no jurisdiction over any case or subject involving an allows for compounding. In other words, the Lok Adalat is not authorized to deal with offense that is not punishable by a law.
  4. Any case that is currently pending before the court may be referred to the Lok Adalat for resolution if: (i) the parties agree to resolve their differences in the Lok Adalat; (ii) one of the parties submits an application to the court requesting that the case be referred to the Lok Adalat; or (iii) the court determines that the matter is appropriate for the Lok Adalat to take cognizance of.
    Upon receiving a request from any of the parties to the disagreement, the organization hosting the Lok Adalat may send the pre-litigation dispute to the Lok Adalat for resolution.
  5. When trying a case, the Lok Adalat shall have the same authority as a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure (1908) with regard to the following matters: (a) the summoning of any witness and enforcing his attendance to testify under oath; (b) the discovery and production of any document; (c) the receipt of evidence on affidavits; (d) the requisition of any public record or document from any court or office.
    A Lok Adalat will also have the necessary authority to define its own process for resolving any disputes that are brought before it. Additionally, every Lok Adalat must be assumed to be a Civil Court for the purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) and all proceedings before a Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code (1860).
  6. A Lok Adalat decision is equivalent to a civil court ruling or any other kind of court judgment. Every decision rendered by a Lok Adalat is final and enforceable against all disputing parties. Any court cannot hear an appeal against a Lok Adalat decision.

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