NALSA along with other Legal Services Institutions conducts Lok Adalats. Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably. Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under the said Act, the award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law. If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate.
The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the victims for satisfactory settlement of their disputes. This system is based on Gandhian principles. It is one of the components of ADR systems. It is an Indian contribution to the world jurisprudence of ADR. Lok Adalat (people’s courts), established by the government, settles disputes by the principles of justice, equity and fair play, which are the guiding factors for decisions based on compromises to be arrived at before such Adalats.
The camps of Lok Adalats were initially started in the state of Gujarat in 1982. The first Lok Adalat was organized on 14th March 1982 at Junagarh. Maharashtra commenced the Lok Nyayalaya in 1984. The movement has now subsequently spread to the entire country. The reason to create such camps was only the pending cases and to give relief to the litigants who were in a queue to get justice.
Justice Ramaswamy says: “Resolving disputes through Lok Adalat not only minimizes litigation expenditure, it saves valuable time of the parties and their witnesses and also facilitates inexpensive and prompt remedy appropriately to the satisfaction of both the parties”
Law Courts in India face mainly four problems:
• The number of courts and judges in all grades are alarmingly inadequate
• Increase in flow of cases in recent years due to multifarious Acts enacted by the Central and State Governments
• The high cost involved in prosecuting or defending a case in a court of law, due to heavy court fee, lawyer’s fee and incidental charges
• Delay in disposal of cases resulting in huge pendency in all the courts
• Lok Adalat has a positive contributory role in the administration of justice. It supplements the efforts and work of the courts. Area of contribution chosen for the purpose especially concerns and helps the common man, the poor, backward and the needy-most sections of the society.
Nature of Cases to be Referred to Lok Adalat :
1. Any case pending before any court.
2. Any dispute which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the court.
3. Provided that any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under the law shall not be settled in Lok Adalat.
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