Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. It is where disputes/cases pending in the courtroom or at the pre-litigation stage are settled/compromised in an amicable manner. 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 regarded to be a decree of a civil court and is last and official on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any courtroom. In the event that the parties are not happy with the award of the Lok Adalat, however, there is no arrangement for an appeal against such an award, yet they are allowed to initiate suit by approaching the court of appropriate purview by filing a case by following the required system, in exercise of their entitlement to litigate.
There is no court fee payable when an issue is documented in a Lok Adalat. On the off chance that a dispute pending in the courtroom is alluded to the Lok Adalat and is settled accordingly, the court fee initially paid in the court on the complaints/petition to is likewise refunded back to the parties. The people deciding the cases in the Lok Adalats are known as the Members of the Lok Adalats, they have the job of statutory conciliators only and don’t have any judicial role; in this manner they can just persuade the parties to reach a resolution for settling the dispute outside the court in the Lok Adalat and will not pressurize or force any of the parties to compromise or settle cases or matters either directly or indirectly. The Lok Adalat will not decide the matter so alluded at its very own example, rather the matter would be decided on the premise of the compromise or settlement between the parties. The members will help the parties in an independent and unprejudiced way in their endeavor to achieve an amicable settlement of their dispute.
Nature of Cases to be referred to Lok Adalat
1. Any case pending under any court.
2. Any matter which has not been brought under any court and is probably going to be filed under the court.
Given that any issue identifying with an offense not compoundable under the law will not be settled in Lok Adalat.
Which Lok Adalat to be Approached
According to section18(1) of the Act, a Lok Adalat will have jurisdiction to decide and to land at a compromise or settlement between the parties to a matter in regard of –
(1) Any case pending previously; or
(2) Any issue which is falling inside the jurisdiction of, and isn’t brought under any court for which the Lok Adalat is organized.
Given that the Lok Adalat will have no purview in regard to issues identifying with divorce or matters identifying with an offense not compoundable under any law.
How to Get the Case Referred to the Lok Adalat for Settlement
(A) Case pending under the court.
(B) Any matter at pre-litigative stage.
The State Legal Services Authority or District Legal Services Authority as the case might be on receipt of an application from any of the parties at a pre-litigation stage may allude such issue to the Lok Adalat for amicable settlement of the dispute for which notice would then be issued to the other party.
Levels and Composition of Lok Adalats:
At the State Authority Level –
The Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would establish seats of the Lok Adalat, each bench including a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or a sitting or retired legal officer and any one or both of either a member from the legal profession; a social worker occupied with the upliftment of the weaker areas and interested by the implementation of legal services plans or projects.
At High Court Level –
The Secretary of the High Court Legal Services Committee would establish benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench containing a sitting or retired judge of the High Court and any one or both of either a member from the legal profession; a social worker occupied with the upliftment of the weaker segments and interested by the implementation of legal services plans or projects.
At District Level –
The Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would establish benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench including a sitting or retired legal officer and any one or both of either a member from the legal profession; or a social worker occupied with the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the execution of legal services plans or programs or a man occupied with paralegal exercises of the area, ideally a lady.
At Taluk Level –
The Secretary of the Taluk Legal Services Committee organizing the Lok Adalat would establish benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench containing a sitting or retired legal officer and any one or both of either a member from the legal profession; as well as a social worker occupied with the upliftment of the weaker areas and inspired by the execution of legal services plans or programs or a man occupied with para-legal exercises of the area, ideally a lady.
National Lok Adalat
National Level Lok Adalats are held for at regular interims where on a single day Lok Adalats are held all through the nation, in every one of the courts staring right from the Supreme Court till the Taluk Levels wherein cases are disposed of in gigantic numbers. From February 2015, National Lok Adalats are being held on a particular topic every month.
Permanent Lok Adalat
The other sort of Lok Adalat is the Permanent Lok Adalat, composed 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 giving an obligatory pre-litigation system for conciliation and settlement of cases identifying with Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph and so on. Here, regardless of whether the gatherings fail to reach a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat has the jurisdiction to decide the matter, given, the matter does not identify with any offense. Further, the Award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is last and official on every one of the parties. The purview or jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalats is up to Rs. Ten Lakhs. Here if the parties fail to reach a settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat has the power to decide the case. The award of the Permanent Lok Adalat is last and official upon the parties. The Lok Adalat may lead the procedures in such a way as it thinks about suitable, considering the conditions of the case, wishes of the parties like requests to hear oral statements, speedy settlement of the dispute, etc
Portable Lok Adalats are likewise composed in different parts of the nation which venture out starting with one area then onto the next to resolve matters with the end goal to encourage the resolution of the dispute through this mechanism
As on 30.09.2015, more than 15.14 lakhs Lok Adalats have been organized out in the nation since its beginning. More than 8.25 crore cases have been settled by this mechanism up until now.