By Bhavneet Vohra July 29, 2016
THE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT, 1987
On 5th December, 1995, the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) was constituted under the authority of The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 which deals with Lok Adalats.
How is Lok Adalat organized? (Section 19)
(1)Lok Adalat may be organized by the Central, State, District and Taluka Legal Services Authority at any interval and at any place as it thinks fit and satisfies their jurisdiction.
(2)Conciliators of Lok Adalat includes the following:
A. A judicial that may be serving or retired.
B. Other reputed persons in that field who may be appointed by the above stated authorities.
Which cases can be referred to the Lok Adalat? (Section 20)
According to Section 20 such cases may be referred to the Lok Adalat where;
- Both the parties gives consent to do the same.
- If any of the parties makes an application to the Adalat for reference.
- With the satisfaction of the court that the matter is appropriate to be taken by the Lok Adalat.
- Whichever case is referred to the Lok Adalat it seeks to dispose off the case by settlement or arriving at a compromise and is guided by the the principles of justice, equity, fair play and other legal principles.
- In certain cases where no settlement or compromise can be arrived at between the parties, then that particular matter is returned to the concerned court for disposal in accordance with the law and by following due procedures.
What is the authority of the award (decision) of the Lok Adalat? (Section 21)
As per the Section 21-
If the settlement or compromise for a case and the award is passed by the conciliators, then the matter need not be referred to the concerned court for consent decree.
Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be an equivalent decree by the Civil Court.
It shall be binding and final on all the parties that are related to the dispute and NO APPEAL shall be allowed from the award of a Lok Adalat.
Does Lok Adalats provide any benefits? What are they?
The applicability of this has increased tremendously and has turned out to be a successful venture for Alternative Dispute Resolution in India. Lok Adalats provide many benefits, some of which are as follows:
- It provides justice at zero cost.
- Saves a lot of time by providing speedy justice instead of following long laid procedures.
- It pertains to solves most of the problems at the backlog of cases.
- It helps to maintain cordial and strong relations between the parties.
How to reach Lok Adalat?
Procedure and Nature of cases referred to Lok Adalat (Section 19 (5))
According to the Section 19(5) of the Act,
- Any case pending before any court (POST LITIGATIVE STAGE)
- If the parties to the dispute agree and give consent to settle or compromise the dispute in Lok Adalat.
- If one of the parties to the dispute make an application to the court.
- If the court in which the case is filed initially finds and is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one for settlement in Lok Adalat.
- Any dispute which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the court. This basically refers to the PRE- LITIGATIVE STAGE – that is to settle the dispute before even going to the court.
- When the State or District Legal Services Authority as the case maybe receives an application from any one of the parties to the dispute to any pre-litigation stage matter, refer such matter to the Lok Adalat so that it can be arrived at an amicable settlement or compromise.
- The parties to the dispute who have agreed to avail the Lok Adalat Mechanism can simply approach the Court concerned or any of the Legal Service Institution. Moreover as per the Legal Services Authority Act it is a cost fee procedure and NO FEE is required to be paid by the parties to settle the dispute before Lok Adalat.
- Lok Adalat benches consisting of Judicial Officers, Advocates and social workers deal with cases referred to them and help the parties in arriving at a settlement.
Permanent Lok Adalat
In the year 2002, Parliament of India with certain amendments to the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 introduced a new CHAPTER 6A with the title “PRE LITIGATION CONCILIATION AND SETTLEMENT” which contains the Sections 22(B) which includes the establishment of PERMANENT LOK ADALATS which are specifically established to consider the cases in respect of the PUBLIC UTILITY SERVICES which usually includes the following:
- Postal, Telegraph or Telephone Service
- Transport service
- Provision and supply of power, light and water to public
- System of Public Conservancy or Sanitation
- Insurance Services
The same powers are vested in the Permanent Lok Adalat as in the Lok Adalat. For the above list, the party can approach the Permanent Lok Adalat of his state through an application.
Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat
It has been established by the National Commission for Women basically for the redressal and disposal of matters related to family and marriage affairs by arriving at a settlement or a compromise. They function exactly on the provisions of Lok Adalat only.
In order to reach the Parivarik Lok Adalat for reference to any case refer to the following contact details and the following link: http://ncw.nic.in/PDFFiles/Parivarik_Mahila_Lok_Adalats.pdf
National Commission for Women 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi-110002
Ph: 091-011-23237166, 23234918
Fax: 091-011-23236154 E Mail- firstname.lastname@example.org
Accreditation of NGOs
It is recommended that since Lok Adalats are working for the service for poor and underprivileged sections of the society, so more and more NGOs who are working in different fields for the benefit of various target groups can accredit themselves with the Legal Service Authority.
The following shows an example of form for Accreditation of NGOs to Legal Services Authority- http://apslsa.ap.nic.in/accredition_of_ngos.html
By reading the above stated advantages, we can very well interpret that establishment of Lok Adalat is a revolutionary step for the Indian Judiciary which has brought many positive effects and results to the same. Providing legal assistance at zero cost to the poor and needy and moreover helping in clearing the backlog cases which have reached in crores. So the concept of Lok Adalat has come out to be a very successful venture.
Image courtesy: http://edslsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/lok_adalat_big.jpg
Bhavneet Singh Vohra
Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies
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