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1.

Lok Adalats in India:

ADR has been an integral part of our historical past. 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, People's 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 practiced 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 (People's 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.
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, neighborliness, transparency,
efficiency and lack of animosity.
The concept of Lok Adalats 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.
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.
Camps of Lok Adalats 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 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, and
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 than16 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.
The Statistics of the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority as to the number of cases
disposed, the amount of compensation paid etc. have been annexed herewith.

1.1 Legislation pertaining to Lok Adalats:

The advent of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 gave a statutory status to Lok
Adalats, pursuant to the constitutional mandate in Article 39-A of the Constitution of
India, contains various provisions for settlement of disputes through Lok Adalat. 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
organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice
on a basis of equal opportunity. Even before the enforcement of the Act, the concept
of Lok Adalat has been getting wide acceptance as People's Courts as the very name
signifies. Settlement of disputes at the hands of Panchayat Heads or tribal heads was
in vogue since ancient times. When statutory recognition had been given to Lok
Adalat, it was specifically provided that the award passed by the Lok Adalat
formulating the terms of compromise will have the force of decree of a court which
can be executed as a civil court decree.

1.2 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 Adalats 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 cases 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 pre-litigative stage i.e. disputes which have not yet been formally instituted
in any Court of Law. Such matters may be civil or criminal in nature, but any matter
relating to an offence not compoundable under any law cannot be decided by the Lok
Adalat even if the parties involved therein agree to settle the same. Lok Adalats can
take cognizance of matters involving not only those persons who are entitled to avail
free legal services but of all other persons also, be they women, men, or children and
even institutions. Anyone, or more of the parties to a dispute can move an application
to the court where their matter may be pending, or even at pre-litigative stage, for
such matter being taken up in the Lok Adalat whereupon the Lok Adalat Bench
constituted for the purpose shall attempt to resolve the dispute by helping the parties
to arrive at 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.

1.3 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 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 decrees 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.

1.4 Consent of Parties:

The most important factor to be considered while deciding the cases at the Lok Adalat
is the consent of both the parties. It can not be forced on any party that the matter has
to be decided by the Lok Adalat. However, once the parties agree that the matter has
to be decided by the Lok Adalat, then any party cannot walk away from the decision
of the Lok Adalat. In several instances, the Supreme Court has held that if there was
no consent the award of the Lok Adalat is not executable and also if the parties fail to
agree to get the dispute resolved through Lok Adalat, the regular litigation process
remains open for the contesting parties.
The Supreme Court has also held that compromise implies some element of
accommodation on each side. It is not apt to describe it as total surrender.
A compromise is always bilateral and means mutual adjustment. Settlement is
termination of legal proceedings by mutual consent. If no compromise or settlement is
or could be arrived at, no order can be passed by the Lok Adalat.

1.5 Benefits of Lok Adalat:

The benefits that litigants derive through the Lok Adalats 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.
# Second, 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.
# Third, 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.
# Last but not the least, faster and inexpensive remedy with legal status.
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.
Overall effect of the scheme of the Lok Adalat is that the parties to the disputes sit
across the table and sort out their disputes by way of conciliation in presence of the
Lok Adalat Judges, who would be guiding them on technical legal aspects of the
controversies.
The scheme also helps the overburdened Court to alleviate the burden of arrears of
cases and as the award becomes final and binding on both the parties, no appeal is
filed in the Appellate Court and, as such, the burden of the Appellate Court in
hierarchy is also reduced. The scheme is not only helpful to the parties, but also to the
overburdened Courts to achieve the constitutional goal of speedy disposal of the
cases. About 90% of the cases filed in the developed countries are settled mutually by
conciliation, mediation etc. and, as such, only 10% of the cases are decided by the
Courts there. In our country, which is developing, has unlike the developed countries,
number of Judges disproportionate to the cases filed and, hence, to alleviate the
accumulation of cases, the Lok Adalat is the need of the day.
8. New issues in the Lok Adalats Concept :

1. Permanent Lok Adalats:

During the last few years Lok Adalat has been found to be a successful tool of
alternate dispute resolution in India. It is most popular and effective because of its
innovative nature and inexpensive style. The system received wide acceptance not
only from the litigants, but from the public and legal functionaries in general. In India,
during the last few years Lok Adalat has been functioning continuously and
permanently in every District Centre. In Taluka centers also sittings of Lok Adalats
have been held successfully. Several thousands of pending cases and disputes which
had not reached law courts have been settled through Lok Adalats.
The major defect of the mechanism of Lok Adalat is that it cannot take a decision, if
one of the parties, is not willing for a settlement, though the case involves an element
of settlement. The adamant attitude shown by one among the parties will render the
entire process futile. Even if all the members of the Lok Adalat are of the opinion that
the case is a fit one for settlement, under the present set-up, they cannot take a
decision unless all the parties consent.
In his inaugural address at the second annual meet of the State Legal Services
Authorities, 1999, the then Hon'ble Chief Justice Dr. A.S. Anand airing him views
stated thus:
"There will be no harm if Legal Services Authorities Act is suitably amended to
provide that in case, in a matter before it, the Judges of the Lok Adalats are satisfied
that one of the parties is unreasonably opposing a reasonable settlement and has no
valid defence whatsoever against the claim of the opposite party, they may pass an
award on the basis of the materials before them without the consent of one or more
parties. It may also be provided that against such awards, there would be one appeal
to the court to which the appeal would have gone if the matter had been decided by a
court.... This course, I think, would give relief to a very large number of litigants
coming to Lok Adalats at prelitigative stage as well as in pending matters."
In 2002, Parliament brought about certain amendments to the Legal Services
Authorities Act, 1987. The said amendment introduced Chapter VI-A with the caption
PRE LITIGATION CONCILIATION AND SETTLEMENT. Section 22-B envisages
establishment of "PERMANENT LOK ADALATS (PLA)" at different places for
considering the cases in respect of Public Utility Services (PUS).
If there is a dispute with respect to PUS, as per Section 22-C(1), any party to such a
dispute can, before bringing it to a court of law for adjudication, make an application
to PLA for the settlement of that dispute. The party making such application need not
be a party who raises a claim against a public utility service. If a claim is made by one
against a public utility service, the establishment carrying out the public utility service
can also raise that dispute before PLA to resolve it. The only limitation is that PLA
shall not have jurisdiction to consider a dispute relating to an offence not
compoundable under any law or any matter where the value of the property in dispute
exceeds Rs.10 lakhs. But the Central Government can, by an appropriate notification,
increase this limit. Once an application has been made to PLA by one party, no party
to that application shall invoke the jurisdiction of any court in the same dispute.
PLA has to be established by the National Legal Services Authority or the State Legal
Services Authorities. It shall have three members; the Chairman, who is or has been a
District Judge or an Additional District Judge or has held a judicial office higher in
rank than that of a District Judge and two other members having adequate experience
in public utility service. Such persons shall be appointed by the State or the Central
Authority, as the case may be, upon nomination by the respective Governments. But
at the same time, such nomination shall be on the recommendation of the Central or
the State Authority. Section 22-C(3) provides that when an application is filed raising
a dispute, the parties shall be directed to file written statements with appropriate
proof, including documents and other evidence. Copies of documents produced and
statements made by the parties shall be given to each other. Thereafter PLA shall
conduct conciliation proceedings between the parties to bring about an amicable
settlement to the dispute. It is the primary duty of PLA as per Section 22-C(4). While
conducting such conciliation proceedings, it is incumbent on the members of PLA to
assist the parties to reach an amicable settlement.
The parties are also obliged to cooperate in good faith with PLA. If PLA is of the
opinion that "there exist elements of settlement in such proceedings, which may be
acceptable to the parties", it shall formulate the terms of possible settlement,
communicate its observations to the parties and if the parties agree, the settlement
shall be signed and an award shall be passed in terms of such settlement and copies of
the award shall be furnished to the parties. See Section 22-C(7). It is also provided in
sub-section (8) that in cases where there exist elements of settlement, but the parties’
fails to reach at an agreement, "the Permanent Lok Adalat shall, if the dispute does
not relate to any offence, decide the dispute". "For the purpose of holding any
determination" the Permanent Lok Adalat shall have the same powers as are vested in
a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 while trying a suit, in respect of
summoning and enforcing of attendance and examining of witnesses, discovery or
production of documents, reception of evidence on affidavits, requisitioning of public
records and documents and such other matter as the Government may prescribe. PLA
can specify its own procedure for deciding the dispute coming before it and the
proceedings shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings. The award of PLA, whether
made on merit or on settlement shall be final and binding on parties and be deemed to
be a decree of a civil court. It shall be executed as if it is a decree of a civil court
having jurisdiction in respect of the dispute involved. But the award cannot be called
in question in any "original suit, application or execution proceedings". This, in effect,
is the scheme of the amendment establishing a Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA).
This will, certainly, prove to be very effective, litigant-friendly and less-expensive
mechanism to resolve certain serious disputes. As PUS’s are rendered mainly by
corporate bodies, this virtually will be a forum for ordinary men and women to
ventilate their grievances against such corporate bodies. In the changing economic
scenario of the country where insurance, communication and other services are
thrown open to corporate giants, it is all the more necessary to provide for cost-
effective and delay-free tools for resolution of disputes. PLA is a structured clubbing
conciliatory mode with certain features of arbitration to arrive at decisions under
given circumstances. There is sharp criticism against this machinery both in its
constitution and its functioning especially from lawyers. The main opposition against
the amendment is based on the following viz.
(1) With regard to the constitution of PLA;
(2) insofar as PLA is given the power to decide a dispute unlike the ordinary Lok
Adalats (LA) envisaged as per Section 19 of the Act which only conciliates the
dispute; and
(3) Absence of provision for appeal against the decision of PLA.
It is submitted that there is no basis for these criticisms. As the Government is
nominating the members, there may be political consideration in their appointment, it
is said. It is true that the members of PLA shall be nominated by the respective
Governments. But such nomination shall be, in terms of Section 22-B(2)(b) of the
Act, on recommendation by the Legal Services Authority concerned. After such
nomination, they have to be appointed by the Legal Services Authority concerned. So
there is no chance for the Government's nominee getting appointed.
There is a Central Authority called the "National Legal Services Authority". Its patron
is the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India. Its Executive Chairman is the senior most Judge
of the Supreme Court of India. Two among the members are two Chairmen of the
State Legal Services Authorities who are invariably sitting Judges of the High Courts
concerned. Another member is the Secretary of the Department of Legal Affairs and
there is a Member Secretary who is a District Judge. Apart from that, there are
members like the Secretary, Department of Expenditure, and members appointed by
the Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. Those persons shall be
eminent persons in the field of law or persons of repute in the legal services schemes
or eminent social workers.
So far as the State Legal Services Authorities are concerned, it is headed by a Patron-
in-Chief who is none other than the Hon'ble Chief Justice of the High Court. In almost
all the State Authorities, except perhaps one or two, a sitting Judge of the High Court
functions as the Executive Chairman. A District Judge functions as the Member
Secretary.
So far as Kerala is concerned, the other members are the Registrar of the High Court,
the Advocate-General, the Director General of Prosecutions, the Chairman of the Bar
Council of Kerala, President of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association, the
Law Secretary, the Finance Secretary, Director of Health Services, Director General
of Police, Chairman, Kerala State Women's Commission and persons having special
knowledge and practical experience in social service etc. Other State Authorities also
have similar constitution. It is these authorities with such eminent personalities which
shall recommend the names of the members of PLA. It is a body consisting of the
Chief Justice of the High Court and a sitting Judge who is the Executive Chairman of
the State Authority, which consists of eminent persons in the legal field that
recommends such members. Members so recommended shall have to be nominated
by the Government. The members so nominated shall have to be appointed by the
authority concerned as members of PLA. It cannot be taken that the members so
recommended by the authority shall be on political consideration or incompetent to
function as members of PLA. It cannot be taken that a body consisting of the Chief
Justice and a sitting Judge or retired Judge and other persons with the status of a
District Judge and Advocate-General, Chairman of Bar Council etc. will recommend
incompetent persons to be members of PLA. These respectable persons, it is hoped,
will always recommend only competent persons. It cannot be presupposed that these
respectable bodies consisting of very eminent persons will recommend incompetent
incumbents.
There is criticism that the persons so appointed will not have legal background.
Presently, the specialized tribunals are appointed with the representatives of social
organizations or experts. In the case of machineries set up to try disputes raised by
consumers, members other than Chairman are persons without legal background.
Even in administrative tribunals, persons without legal background, but only with
administrative experience are appointed as members. Along with persons with judicial
background experts or experienced persons without legal background are also
appointed in other alternative dispute redressal forums.
The second criticism is with regard to the functioning of PLA insofar as it is given the
power to decide a dispute when the parties do not agree for a settlement. While
deciding the dispute, it is made clear that the provisions of the Code of Civil
Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act will not have application. In other words, the
determination or decisions will be in a summary manner. As already mentioned
above, PLA is given ample power in the matter of reception of evidence, examination
of witnesses etc. the power that a civil court has. A decision is possible only in those
cases where in the opinion of the Permanent Lok Adalat "there exist elements of
settlement". In such cases, PLA formulates the terms of a possible settlement and
gives such terms to the parties concerned for their observations. These observations
will be considered on the basis of evidence produced by the parties. If they do not
come to a settlement, PLA shall decide the dispute. That means, PLA is not given the
power to decide every dispute coming before it. Only those disputes where there exist
elements of settlement can be decided by the Permanent Lok Adalat. The decision or
the opinion of the Permanent Lok Adalat as to whether there exist elements of
settlement is also a matter which can be subjected to judicial review under Article 226
of the Constitution of India. Therefore, there shall be a check in that respect as well.
It is further ensured in the Act that while deciding the dispute on merit, PLA shall be
guided by the "principles of natural justice, objectivity, fair play, equity and other
principles of justice". Thus, a fair procedure is always envisaged. Therefore, there is
no reason for any criticism on the power granted to PLA to decide the dispute in the
event of a settlement not being arrived at despite the existence of an element of
settlement.
It cannot be said that there is no appeal against the decision of PLA. So far as the
ordinary Lok Adalats (LA) are concerned which is in existence even prior to the
amendment and is still being continued no appeal will lie against an award of that Lok
Adalat. The ordinary LA adopts only a conciliatory method and does not decide a
dispute. Therefore, disputes are settled on consent of the parties. When a dispute is
settled based on consent, no appeal need lie from any such order or award even if
there is a settlement in court. Under the civil procedure law also no appeal shall lie
from a decree passed on consent of the parties. This is the reason the Act declares that
"no appeal shall lie to any court against the award" of ordinary Lok Adalat (LA)
envisaged in Chapter VI of the Act.
But the award of Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA) envisaged in the newly introduced
Chapter VI-A is different. If it is an award upon consent of parties and is as a result of
compromise, necessarily, nobody will think of an appeal. When there is a decision by
PLA, as the parties did not agree for a compromise, it is possible that the aggrieved
party may think of an appeal. Every award of the Permanent Lok Adalat, whether it is
based on consent of the parties, or on compromise or upon the decision, "shall be
deemed to be a decree of a civil court". Thus the decision taken by PLA will have all
the attributes of a decree of a civil court. It will be taken and considered in all
respects, as a decree of a civil court. Every decree, unless it is appealed against and so
long as it is allowed to continue, will be final and binding on the parties. Same is the
case of an award of PLA. It is true that there is no provision for appeal. But appeal is
not expressly excluded, in the case of award of PLAs. It is not stated anywhere in the
Act that an award of a PLA shall not be called in question in any appeal, as is done in
the case of the award of an ordinary Lok Adalat (LA) in Section 21(2) of the Act.
Certainly, appeal will lie only if it is provided somewhere by law. Otherwise, one
cannot file an appeal. It seems that the provision of Section 96(1) CPC could be relied
on to establish that an appeal is not excluded. As already mentioned above, the award
of PLA has all the attributes of a civil court decree and it is deemed as a decree of a
civil court. Section 96(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides:
Save where otherwise expressly provided in the body of this Code or by any other law
for the time being in force, an appeal shall lie from every decree passed by any court
exercising original jurisdiction to the court authorized to hear appeals from the
decisions of such court." When the award of PLA is treated as a decree of civil court
and as it is not otherwise provided in the Legal Services Authorities Act that no
appeal shall lie from such award, necessarily, that being deemed a civil court decree,
an appeal shall lie from that decree.
An award of PLA shall be executed by a civil court "having local jurisdiction"
depending upon the amount of the decree. Necessarily, an appeal shall also lie to a
court depending upon the quantum of the amount involved in the decree or to the
High Court being a decision of a body consisting of three persons of which a District
Judge or a retired District Judge is the Chairman. So there is possibility for a judicial
review in an appeal.
In the case of the awards of ordinary Lok Adalat (LA), the statute specifically
provides that it shall not be challenged in an appeal. But the very same legislature did
not legislate such a provision when it dealt with the award of PLA. The manifest
difference in the provisions relating to the awards of PLA and LA is not accidental.
The difference really means that an appeal is possible against an award of PLA in
terms of Section 96(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, when it is not specifically
barred by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and as the award has all the
attributes of a decree of a civil court. Even otherwise, the jurisdiction under Article
226 of the Constitution of India cannot be ruled out, being one among the basic
features of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the criticism that the award of PLA
cannot be called in question in a higher forum has no force. Moreover, PLA is a
machinery to settle or decide disputes relating to public utility services. In the
changing economic scenario, the establishments rendering public utility services,
enumerated in the Act might be run by corporate sectors. Common people may have
claims against these corporates. If they are given a speedy and inexpensive remedy to
resolve their grievances, it should be welcomed.
Lawyers can very well apprise the client of the demerits, if any, of the machinery of
PLA. In spite of that, if the party is inclined to resort to the cheaper remedy, it cannot
be said that the legislation is anti-litigant, as there is no compulsion that one shall first
approach PLA before approaching a court of law.
Of course, as already mentioned, the party other than the claimant also can raise the
dispute before PLA and it is likely that PLA may render a decision, if no settlement is
arrived at, in spite of the existence of elements of settlement. Thus an award may
come against a person who really did not desire to avail of this remedy in respect of
his claims. In such circumstances, he can either resort to an appeal, or at any rate, to
proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It cannot be argued that
the members of PLA will be biased in their decision and that they may even defeat the
decision of the Chairman by forming a majority on extraneous considerations. Even if
it happens so in a rare situation, certainly it can be corrected either in a proceeding
under Article 226 of the Constitution of India or in an appeal as mentioned above.
There shall be some definite qualifications for the other members of PLA. Presently
what is required is that they shall have "adequate experience in public utility service".
This is too vague a phraseology. It is always advisable to spell out definite
qualifications, so that the litigants will have confidence that the persons deciding their
disputes are sufficiently qualified and able.

As already mentioned above, it is possible, if somebody raises a claim against public utility
services, the latter can bring that dispute before PLA. PLA may take some time to render a
decision. In case no compromise is arrived at, and if the case involves no element of
settlement what will happen, if in the meantime the period of limitation is over, so far as the
claimant party is concerned Can it be taken that he has been "prosecuting with due diligence
in civil proceedings" in a court, because, so far as PLA is concerned, he was not the party
initiating the dispute. The Lok Adalat is not treated as a court, but only vested with certain
powers of a civil court or shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purpose of Section 195
and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. These aspects require
consideration