Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR is a settlement reached out of court. Settlement can be discussed by any party at any time during litigation and is often a cost-effective option to trial. They are being promoted in a big way in view of the huge arrears of the cases and delays in justice delivery.
An important aspect of ADRs is preserving the important social relationships for disputants, which a judicial process or outcome is never able to maintain. Generally, the court does not require the parties to discuss or attempt settlement, but most courts’ assistance in a settlement. Malimath Committee 1990 which is also known as the Arrears Committee, approach a comprehensive evaluation of the working of the court system, specifically all aspects of arrears and Law’s delay, and underlined the need for an alternative dispute resolution mechanism as a viable alternative to the conventional court litigation.
Alternative Dispute Resolution consists of several techniques being utilized to resolve disputes with third-party intervention. ADR system repudiates the rigidity and inflexibility of traditional and orthodox procedures. The importance of the ADR, which is informal and flexible, is on helping the parties to help themselves. It is not to supplement the traditional method of resolving disputes through litigation. In fact, it offers an only alternative option to litigation. Mainly there are some commonly practiced alternative dispute resolution mechanisms
- Lok Adalat
Arbitration – It is a traditional alternative to court-based litigation which is frequently quite time and resource-consuming. Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process in which there are two disputing parties and a third, neutral person, called an arbitrator or arbiter, who sits as a private judge. It is a binding method of dispute resolution governed by statutes and laws. The arbitrator solves the dispute of the parties in a confidential manner. The appointed arbitrator considers the proofs presented by both parties and then issues an award, which is enforceable by the courts. The procedures used in arbitration can range from informal to rules which essentially mirror court procedures. Arbitration is chosen as it is fast, private, and less expensive as compared to litigation.
Conciliation – Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby a neutral third party is appointed as a conciliator with consent of the disputants. The conciliator is not bound by the rules of evidence. His job is to pacify both parties by settling their issues. This conciliator then requests both the parties to prepare a list of objectives they wish to resolve. At no point of time during the conciliation process do the two parties meet. Therefore, the conciliator moves back and forth, and is in negotiation with both parties. Once the parties have reached to a common stand point they can pen down and sign a contract elaborating the agreement reached. Conciliation differs from arbitration in that the conciliation process has no legal binding, and the conciliator usually has no authority to seek evidence or call witnesses, does not have decision making power, and makes no award.
Mediation – Mediation is a voluntary and consensual process wherein the disputing parties are assisted in reaching a mutually agreeable settlement by a neutral third party termed as a mediator, whose role is to facilitate communications and discussions, but who has no decision making power. Generally, the terms conciliation and mediation are used interchangeably. Not much difference between them.
Lok Adalat – Lok Adalat is the concept having its roots in people’s Court. It is the system of Nyaya panchayat conceptualized and institutionalized as Lok Adalat. It involves people who are directly of indirectly affected by dispute resolution. The main reason for brining this system is to lessen the burdens of Court and provide speedy justice with peoples participation in decision making. The Supreme Court has considered the legal aid as a Fundamental Right under Article 21.Lok Adalat has been made a part of the movement to provide legal aid to the people. It has been given special status under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, which provides statutory base to such Lok Adalat. There is no court fee. They are regularly organized primarily by the State Legal Aid and Advice Boards with the help of District Legal Aid and Advice Committees. The whole emphasis in the Lok Adalat proceedings in on conciliation and not on adjudication.
Finality of Settlement arrived before Lok Adalat- Every award for
- Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be decree of Civil Court
- Every Order made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on the all the parties
- No appeal shall lie form the order of Lok Adalat
Establishment of Permanent Lok Adalat under the Act- Chapter VI A was newly added by Amendment Act, 2002, introducing the concept of permanent Lok Adalat. The Central or State Authorities may establish by notification, Permanent Lok Adalat at any place, for determining issues in connection to Public Utility Services. It includes the following.,
- Transport service,
- Postal, telegraph or telephone services,
- Supply of power, light and water to public,
- System of public conservancy or sanitation,
- Insurance services and such other services.
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