Lok Adalat| By Rahul Saxena @ Lexcliq

Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms, it is a forum where disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/ compromised amicably. DPSP – Article 39 – A was inserted in the constitution by the 42nd Amendment act. It enjoins upon the state to secure that the operation of legal System promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity and in particular to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under the said Act, The award (decision) made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law. If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat though there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, but they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction by filing a case by following the required procedure, in exercise of their right to litigate .There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat. If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties. The persons deciding the cases in the Lok Adalats are called the Members of the Lok Adalats, they have the role of statutory conciliators only and do not have any judicial role; therefore they can only persuade the parties to come to a conclusion for settling the dispute outside the court in the Lok Adalat
and shall not pressurize or coerce any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either directly or indirectly. The Lok Adalat shall not decide the matter so referred at its own instance, instead the same would be decided on the basis of the compromise or settlement between the parties. The members shall assist the parties in an independent and impartial manner in their attempt to reach
amicable settlement of their dispute.

Nature of cases that can be referred to the Lok Adalats
Any case pending before any court. Any dispute which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the court.

Condition – Provided that any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under the law shall not be
settled in Lok Adalat.

Levels
National Lok Adalat

National Level Lok Adalats are held for at regular intervals where on a single day Lok Adalats are held
throughout the country, in all the courts right from the Supreme Court till the Taluk Levels wherein cases are
disposed off in huge numbers

Permanent Lok Adalat
The other type of Lok Adalat is the Permanent Lok Adalat, organized under Section 22-B of The Legal Services
Authorities Act, 1987. Permanent Lok Adalats have been set up as permanent bodies with a Chairman and two
members for providing compulsory pre-litigative mechanism for conciliation and settlement of cases relating to
Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph etc.
At the State Authority Level –
The Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute
benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or a sitting or
retired judicial officer and any one or both of- a member from the legal profession; a social worker engaged in
the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or
program.

At High Court Level –
The Secretary of the High Court Legal Services Committee would constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each
bench comprising of a sitting or retired judge of the High Court and any one or both of- a member from the legal
profession; a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the
implementation of legal services schemes or program.

At District Level –
The Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute benches of the
Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one or both of either a member
from the legal profession; and/or a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and
interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or program or a person engaged in para-legal
activities of the area, preferably a woman

At Taluk Level –

The Secretary of the Taluk Legal Services Committee organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute benches of
the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one or both of either a
member from the legal profession; and/or a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and
interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or program or a person engaged in para-legal
activities of the area, preferably a woman.

Some data about the functioning
• Lok Adalats organized across the country from 2016 to 2020 disposed of 52,46,415 cases.
• National Lok Adalats (NLAs) organised under the aegis of NALSA settle a huge number of cases
across the country in a single day.
• NLAs conducted on February 8, 2020, disposed of 11,99,575 cases.
• From 2016 to 2020, NLAs have disposed of a total of 2,93,19,675 cases.
• The average number of cases disposed of per NLA since 2017 has gone up even when the
number of NLAs organised each year has reduced.

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