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CLININCAL COURSE

LOK ADALATS

Submitted By:
Shikhar Agarwal

METHODOLOGY
In pursuing this study both the doctrinal and non-doctrinal approach would be
followed it will be mainly library based and doctrinal in nature. The study will
be based on primary secondary sources. From the primary source various books
on the Lok Adalat and some specific books have been relied upon.
The secondary source have been referred to and applied upon the articles which
are written by eminent judges, jurist, academicians, and lawyers journals etc.
published in leading law journals.
The material has been collected from various sources that of articles, books
various law journals, newspapers and internet. It contains viewpoint of many
jurists and advocates.
The material was collected and chaptered accordingly. This assignment
emphasizes on the concept of Lok Adalats in India.

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

1.

A.I.R.

All India Reporter

2.

Anr.

Another

3.

Art./Arts.

Article/Articles

4.

Ch.

Chapter

5.

Ed.

Edition

6.

H.C.

High Court

Honble

Honourable

9.

i.e.

That is

10.

Ex.

Example

11.

Govt.

Government

12.

Ltd.

Limited

13.

Ors.

Others

14.

No.

Number

15.

Orders

16.

Sec./Secs.

Section/Sections

17.

vs./v.

Versus

18.

S.C.

Supreme Court

19.

S.C.C

Supreme Court Cases

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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
1
2

M.P Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal History, 5th Ed. (1990)


Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, p. VII.

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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.
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.

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

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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, 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
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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 sees
some chance of settlement after the other party has been given an opportunity of
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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
4

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Legal Aid News Letter, May-August (1990).


Paras Diwan, Justice at the door step of the people, The Lok Adalat System, AIR 1991, Journal section, 85 at
86
6
Ibid.
5

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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 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

Legal Aid newsletter, May-August, 1990.


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
8

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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.
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;

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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
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
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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
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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 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

12
13

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

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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 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

14

Current Topics 1986, p 413;

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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 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

15

K.M.H Rayyappa, Lok Adalats : Objectives, pre-requisites, strategies and organization, Indian Bar Review,
Vol. 14(4) 1987 p.711 at 713.

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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

16
17

Mahabaleshwar N. Morje, Lok Nyayalay, AIR 1964 Journal Section 68.


Justice Guman Mal Lodha, Home Delivery System of Justice AIR 1963 Journal Section 73 at 79.

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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 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
18

D.K Sampa, Mediation (1991), p. 3


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.
19

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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 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 21 st
century.
22

Neela Kantho Das, Restructuring of Judicial Administration in Orissa, AIR 1991 Journal Section, 132
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
23

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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.27 Indian 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 lawabiding citizens. A touch here and a push there, and India may become
ungovernable under the present constitutional set-up.29
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
25

Dinesh Chander Mukherjee, Legal Education for Services to the Poor AIR 1982, Journal Section pp. 65,66
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
26

Page | 19

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

30

Upendra Baxi, Towards a Socoilogy of Indian Law, (1985), p. 90


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.
31

Page | 20

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 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.


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
34

Page | 21

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,
Page | 22

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 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
Page | 23

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 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
Page | 24

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
Page | 25

decision of 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)

Page | 26

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.
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 a queue 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.

Page | 27

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.
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
Page | 28

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 units of self-Government. With this in view the
institution of panchayats were brought into recognition.
The modern version of Lok Adalat, however, arose out of the
concern expressed by the Committees set up to report on organizing legal

Page | 29

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.
Page | 30

Why Lok Adalats?


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 | 31

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.
Page | 32

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 (Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal) cases settled, number of
total cases settled and compensation awarded in MACT cases:

Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal
Pradesh

1,59,110

No. of
MACT
Cases
Settled
1,12,169

481

549

4,925

3,01,37,176

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 & Kashmir


Jharkhand

3365
18166

8527
3487

119594
147598

1609457800
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

State/Union
Territory

No. of
Lok Adalats
held

No. of Cases
Settled (inclu.
MACT Cases)

Compensation
awarded in
MACT Cases
(in Rs.)

14,31,481

9,93,71,01,396

Page | 33

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

Uttar Pradesh

37934

72431

8223824

5742022194

Uttrakhand

1209

4121

241993

442574460

West Bengal

17873

34271

193645

2454330542

And. & Nico.


Islands
U.T. Chandigarh
D & Nagar Haveli
Daman & Diu

158

24

1789

3736468

6145
12
8

17842
119
61

192396
1781
135

1221173175
12007699
3099000

Delhi

10937

19287

589464

3048379536

Lakshadweep

73

11

131

435000

Puducherry

854

7967

28958

284499244

SCLSC

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.37 Even the International Labour Organization (ILO) has
appreciated the Punjab experience in Alternate Dispute Redressal of Labour
dispute cases.

37

Article by Maneesh Chibber, published in the Tribune dated March 4, 2006

Page | 34

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. 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 prelitigative 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
Page | 35

Lok Adalat whereupon the Lok Adalat Bench constituted for the purpose shall
attempt to resolve the dispute by helping the parties to arrive at an amicable
solution and once it is successful in doing so, the award passed by it shall be
final which has as much force as a decree of a Civil Court obtained after due
contest.

Page | 36

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.
Page | 37

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.
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
Page | 38

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.
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.

Page | 39

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


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

Page | 40

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

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]

Page | 41

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 LokAdalat Madhya Pradesh High Court held "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
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.
42
Punjab National Bank v. Lakshmichand Rah reported in AIR 2000 Madhya Pradesh 301, 304,

Page | 42

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.
Accordingly, in Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhav v. State of Gujarat,43 it
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
43

http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/lok-a.htm, visited on 16/01/2012.


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
44

Page | 43

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,
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 LokAdalat 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

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 | 44

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 | 45

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.

Page | 46

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;
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.

Page | 47

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

Page | 48

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 | 49

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 | 50

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
46

2005 (3) KLT 1042 SC


2006 (3) KLT 717
48
2005 (2) KLT 185
47

Page | 51

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
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.

49

2005 (4) KLT 1038


2000 Crl.L.J. 1192 (Karnataka
51
AIR 2004 SC 4105 / 2004 (7) SCC 555
52
2003 (1) KLJ 406
50

Page | 52

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 reason to create such camps were only the
pending cases and to 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 everincreasing 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 at 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.

53

AIR 1956 SC 346 (Crmnl. Bnch)

Page | 53

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 authority 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 Lok 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 from 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 resolving 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.
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.

Page | 54

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 | 55

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, it has 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 Job56 decided 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
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 | 56

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, 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.

57

2000 INDLAW MP 201, AIR 2000 MP 301

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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 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.

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

Page | 58

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 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.
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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.

Page | 61

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.
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.

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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 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;

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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 in
organizing 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

Page | 64

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
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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.
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.
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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 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
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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 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.
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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
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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
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
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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 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.
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(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


(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
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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.
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Scheme regarding pre-trial litigation


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 pretrial 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
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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.
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.
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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.

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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 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.

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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
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
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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 Law and the Lawyers, Gandhi M.K., Navjivan Trust, Ahmedabad,
India, 1962, Reprint 2001.
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
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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
www.academia.edu

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