The expression Lokadalat refers to a summary procedure for disposal of cases pending in various courts through the process of arbitration and settlement between the parties at the instance of the institution is called Lokadalat. By virtue of section 19 the Legal Services Authority Act 1987, every state authority, district authority, Supreme Court legal services committee, high court legal services committee or the Thaluk legal services committee may organize lokadalats for settlement of cases pending in court. The basic idea of Lokadalat is to speed up clearance of pending legal cases. The first Lokadalat was held at Gujarat in 1982.
Different types of cases are being settled in lokadalats like motor accident cases, matrimonial cases, family disputes, labour disputes etc. There are many advantages of Lokadalat. Ancient concept of mediation, negotiation and decision of Nyaya-panch is conceptualized instutionalised in the philosophy of Lokadalat. In Telangana Lokadalat mechanism became successful and the aim is for faster the case procedure and gets solved. In Telangana different cases are resolved till now like revenue cases, civil cases, land acquisition cases etc. Public utility services in different districts were established.
In this Research Lokadalat objectives and functions in Telangana and its services rendered , how to approach a Lokadalat ,process of filing a case in Lokadalat ,about permanent Lokadalat and what type and how many cases resolved every year whenever it is conducted are discussed in detail. In state Telangana the Lokadalat mechanism is functioning successfully. So far many cases which are pending are resolved /settled. Because the procedure followed at a Lokadalat is very simple and short of all legal formalism and rituals.
The main aim or basic idea behind the scheme of Lokadalat is to speed up clearance of pending of huge cases in courts and fulfill the constitutional goal of access to equal, fair and efficacious justice to all irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth and socio-economic position.
Key words: justice, speedy clearance, mediation, negotiation.
LOK ADALAT IN TELANGANA
There is a horrendous situation not only in courts of Telangana but all over India .The horrendous congestion in the courts, uneven dispensation of justice, delay in vindication of even the simplest of just claims ;mountains of crimes unpunished encouraging further crimes ,political opponents harassed as Criminals ,demoralization of judges ,rampart unethical practices at the bar leading to monopoly of briefs and spreading corruption :These are some of the problems confronting the people .
There are many cases in which one generation files the case and second generation gets the judgment .According to a report in the New Indian Express, there are nearly three crore civil and criminal cases are pending with various courts. Over 2.5million cases are pending in the courts of subordinate judiciary and over 3.5million cases in the High courts. Eighteen percent of the high courts cases have been pending since years.
As large part of Indian population live in the villages. They have little knowledge about their legal rights. Those who have knowledge about their rights are so poor and do not have courage to file the suit and go to the courts. At the same time the cost of litigation in Indian judiciary is expensive. Presently the awareness of the people rights had been increased .New laws were being introduced to grant various rights to the people. The courts in India also started functioning in a more meaningful way to add flesh and blood to the skeleton of laws and rights. There is a saying that conciliation is better than arbitration and arbitration is better than litigation. As better dispute mechanisms has started from that LOK ADALAT is also one. Lokadalat is conducted by NALSA along with other Legal services Institutions.
Lokadalat means Peoples Court .Lok stands for people and the word Adalat means Court. Lokadalat is a special kind of people’s court in which disputes solved by direct talks between the litigants. The expression Lokadalat refers to a summary procedure for disposal of cases pending in various courts through the process of arbitration and settlement between the parties .By the virtue of sec.19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 every state authority, district authority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or the Thaluk Legal Service Committee may organize Lokadalats for settlement of the cases pending in courts.
The Lokadalat is now widely accepted as an informal, voluntary dispute settlement agency involving people and public spirited lawyers and citizens. The basic idea behind the scheme of Lokadalat is to speed up clearance of pendency of huge cases in the different courts .The salient features of this form of this form of dispute resolution are participation ,accommodation, fairness ,expectation ,voluntary, transparency, efficiency and animosity.
Lokadalat is fairly an old form of adjudicating system prevailed in ancient India .Lok Adalat has long tradition and history to settle the disputes on basis of principles of honesty, fair
Play and moral character as embodied in Indian culture .The institution was prevailed in Indian society at the grass root level in the name of the panchayats.
Keeping in the view the importance of the Lokadalat and the capacity of the noble institution for dispensation of speedy and cheap justice, the researcher has undertaken the present work to study the working of Lok Adalats in India in general and in state of Telangana. Basically Lok Adalat system is based on Gandhian principles. It is part of the ADR system. It is an Indian contribution to the world Jurisprudence of ADR .The camps of the Lok Adalats were initially started in the state of Gujarat in 1982.The first Lok Adalat was organized on 14th march 1982 at Junagarh; Maharashtra commenced the Lok Nyayalaya in 1984.The reason to create such camps was only the pending cases and give relief to the litigants who were waiting to get justice. As the researcher took particularly state of Telangana, there are 31 districts. The total geographical area of the state is 112,007Sq Kms. Around 350.04lakhs people are living in Telangana.
The sex ratio is 988 females per 1000 males. Before Telangana was separate state it was part of Andhra Pradesh , after a long struggle it formed a separate state on 2nd June 2014.The economy of Telangana mostly depend on agriculture and depend on rain water. After separation establishment of IT’s many people got employed. As new state was formed devoplments took place in law and order also. The main objective of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987, according to article 39-A of the Constitution Of India it says to provide free legal aid to the people with equal justice by the suitable legislation or schemes .The primary objective of the Act is to provide free and competent justice to the weaker sections of the people. To organize the lokadalats for amicable settlement of the cases.
ORIGIN OF LOKADALATS
Generally it is considered Lok Adalats were originated from British Rule. Even though it is old form of dispute system however it has been rejuvenated a lot. Lok Adalat has long history in ancient India. The principles of Lok Adalat honesty, fair play, and moral character are embodied in Indian culture. These Lok Adalats are named as people’s court or popular court or panchayats. These courts played an important role in ancient to medieval period. The importances of these texts are discussed in the writings of Yajnavalkya, Narad, Gautama, Kautilya, Manu and Bhringu. These people’s court is of three kinds Punga, Sreni, and Kula. During Muslim rule these people’s court name’s has been changed .During Islamic rule there was systematic control on the administration of the justices in the villages.
After Independence, the existing judicial system has not fulfilled the demands of the people. As decades are passing the changes in judicial system are being made a lot. Now Lok Adalat has become very popular amongst the litigants. Studies shows that it is one of the most efficient and important ADR mechanisms and most suited to the Indian environment, culture and societal interests of the people. Lok Adalats were initially established in Gujarat in March 1982 but started in Chennai and now have been extended throughout the country.
The Lok Adalat originated in the Indian legal system to provide fast, effective, and affordable justice. The evolution of this movement was a part to relieve the heavy burden on the Courts with cases pending.
Lok Adalats are a blend of three forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution: arbitration, mediation, and conciliation. The use of conciliation with elements of arbitration give decisions are binding, and are an illustration of legal decentralization as conflicts are returned to communities from when they originated for local settlement
PROCEDURE OF LOKADALAT
In Telangana Legal services Institutions along with NLASA conducts Lok Adalats. Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute mechanisms. It is form of dispute mechanism where pending cases are settled in the court of law which are in pre litigative stage, are made them to compromise in a friendly manner. Lok Adalats have been given status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under this Act, the decision made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and it is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an decision lies before any court of law.
The advantage in this Lok Adalat is there is no court fee when a case is filed in the court. If the case is pending in the court of law it is referred in Lok Adalat and case is settled subsequently, the court fee which is paid in the court on the complaints/petition is refunded back to the parties. The persons who decide the cases in Lok Adalat are called the Members of the Lok Adalats. They do not have any judicial role but act as conciliators. They can only make the parties by making a conclusion for the dispute, by solving the dispute outside the courts in Lok Adalat.
The cases are solved by direct talks between the litigants. The main of Lok Adalat is solve the cases as soon as possible and give justice to the people. Consent of the parties is only criteria for settlement of the cases. The decision passed by Lok Adalat in respect of the matters at Pre Litigation stage shall be executable through the Court of District Judges of the District in which the Lok Adalat is held as per Rule 18 of AP State Legal Services Authority Rules, 1995.
Nature of Cases referred in Lok Adalat
1. Any case pending before any court.
2. Any case which has not been brought before any court and is likely to be filed before the Lok Adalat court.
If any case related to an offence of compoundable then it is not settled.
Which Lok Adalat to be Approached
As per section 18(1) of the Act, a Lok Adalat have jurisdiction to determine and to make a compromise or settlement between the parties of dispute in respect of –
(1) Any case pending before; or
(2) Any case which is falling within the jurisdiction, and is not brought before, any court then it is will brought in Lok Adalat.
It said that the Lok Adalat will have no jurisdiction in matters related to divorce or matters relating to any offence not compoundable under any law.
The Supreme Court categorized the cases, and said which are suitable for ADR process .According to the Supreme Court decision the following cases are not referred in Lok Adalat:
(i)The suits under order1 rule 8 of CPC ,involves public interest of the common people or many persons are not the parties before the court of law or in the procedure of Lok Adalat.
(ii)Disputes relating to the public offence like murder, rape, etc.
(iii) Cases involving serious and specific allegations of fraud, fabrication of documents, forgery,impersonation,coercionetc.
(iv) Cases against minors, deities and mentally challenged people
(v) Cases involving prosecution for criminal offences.
(vi) Cases of divorce.
The Supreme Court also said about the cases which are should be seen in Lok Adalat
All cases related to
i. Matrimonial cases or maintenance cases
ii. Trade and commerce
iii. Land acquisition cases
iv. Consumer disputes
v. Cases pending in Labour Court
vi. Cases involving commercial banks
vii. Compoundable civil and criminal cases
viii. Partition claims
ix. Family court cases
x. Arrears of retirement benefit cases
ADVANTAGES OF LOK ADALAT
a) Speedy justice and saving from lengthy court trials.
b) No court fee.
c) Solving pending cases
d) Maintenance of co-ordinal relations
e) The parties of the dispute can directly interact with the judge.
f) It is informal, procedural, speedy justice.
POWER’S OF LOK ADALAT:
For the purpose of determination of the dispute, the Lok Adalat shall have following powers:
- To summon and enforce the attendance of any witness and examine him on oath.
- To discovery and production of documents.
- To receive evidence on affidavits.
- To requisition of public record or copy of the record.
COMPOSITION OF LOK ADALAT
AT STATE AUTHORITY LEVEL:
The member secretary organizes the Lokadalat constitutes benches of the lokadalats and each bench comprises of a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or a serving or retired judicial officer and any one or both of the following :
A member from legal profession and a social worker who is engaged in the upliftment of the weaker section of the society and in implementation of legal services schemes or programmes.
AT HIGH COURT LEVEL:
The Secretary of the High Court Legal Services committee organizes the Lok Adalat which constitutes benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting of a retired judge of the High court or a serving or any retired judicial officer , any one or both of the following a member from the legal profession; a social worker belonging engaged in working for the welfare of weaker sections of the people(scheduled tibes,scheduled castes, rural and urban labour)and in implementation of legal services schemes or programmes.
AT DISTRICT LEVEL:
The Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority organizes the Lok Adalat and constitutes benches of the Lok Adalat; each bench comprises sitting of retired judicial officer. Below given members or anyone them.
A member from legal profession and a social worker engaged in the welfare of the weaker sections mainly for women and interested in implementation of legal services or programmes.
AT THALUK LEVEL:
The chairman of the Thaluk Legal Services Committee organizes the Lok Adalat would constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each comprising of a sitting or judicial officer or any one in both of the following:
A member from the legal profession and a social worker engaged in the welfare of the weaker sections mainly for women and interested in implementation of legal services or programmes
TYPES OF LOK ADALAT
National Lok Adalats held for every two month across the country. Law ministry said that more than 50 lakhs are disposed every year on an average. In 2015 it disposed around 60 lakh cases, in 2016 50 lakh cases are disposed, and in 2017 29 lakh cases are disposed.
Cases disposed by national Lok Adalat
National level lokadalats are held at regular intervals where as single day lokadalats are held all over the country and huge cases are disposed off. National Lokadalats are being held on specific subject matters from 2015.In 2017 in Telangana around 22,102 pre-litigation cases.45, 470 pending cases are settled. And compensation for all this cases together is 473412878.
PERMANENT LOKADALAT IN TELANGANA
From types of Lokadalat one type is Permanent Lok Adalat. It is organized under Section 22-B of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.Generally Permanent Lok Adalats had been set up as permanent bodies.
Permanent Lok Adalat is a Public Utility Service of Legal Services Authorities Act. It is a process which involves pre-litigation, conciliation and settlement. Permanent Lok Adalat consists of a Judicial Officer who is working as District Judge and other members have experience in Public Utility Service. Permanent Lok Adalats deal with cases pertaining to the following public utility Services at Pre-litigation stage.
- i) Transport services by air, road or water
- ii) Postal, telegraph or telephone service
- iii) Power supply, light and water to public by any establishment; or
- iv) Public system of conservancy or sanitation; or
- v) Service in hospital or dispensary; or
- vi) Insurance service, banking services, financial services
- vii) Public Distribution Services
- viii) Schemes like NREG (declared as Public Utility Services vide GO.Rt.No.293, Law (LA & J Home Courts, A1) Department, and dated 3-2-2009.
- xi) Educational Institution (Declared as Public Utility Services Vide GO.No.417 Dated 14-2-2016
- x) Real Estate Service and housing (Declared as Public Utility Services Vide GO.No.417 Dated 14-2-2016.
- xi) Aadhaar card, BPL card, ration card, voter ID issues.
Any party having a dispute first files it in any if the court after make an application in permanent Lokadalat. Permanent Lok Adalat do not have jurisdiction of non-compoundable cases and even in the case where the value of the property exceeds RS.1 Crore.
After making an application in permanent Lokadalat than no party will invoke the jurisdiction of any Court of the same dispute. In permanent Lokadalat and in Lokadalat system there in no fee required to be paid for settlement of cases .Permanent Lok Adalat can make award either on merit or on the terms of the settlement agreement. The Award of the Permanent Lok Adalat will be final and binding on all the parties. Award of the Permanent Lok Adalat will be said as an decree of a Civil Court.
Permanent Lok Adalats are being set up in step by step manner like phase manner. There are six 6 Permanent Lok Adalats that are set up in first phase at the following places and are functioning in the premises of Nyaya Seva Sadan in the District Court premises of the District Concerned.
5. RANGA REDDY
This type of system consists of a Chairman with two members for providing compulsory pre-litigative mechanism for conciliation and settlement of cases relating to Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph etc .Even if the parties fail to reach to settlement, the Permanent Lok Adalat gets jurisdiction to decide the dispute. The dispute does not relate to any offence.
The basic features of a permanent Lokadalat are identical to Lokadalat. Even though there are some modifications made in it. The key difference between permanent Lokadalat and Lokadalat is; a Lokadalat is only summoned occasionally and not on a daily basis, a permanent Lokadalat is operational throughout just like any other court or tribunal.
After the establishment of Telangana State Legal Services Authority after on 02.06.2014, pension problems of retired persons of Telangana State, the Government brought to the notice of Telangana State Legal Services Authority by the Pensioners’ Association. By Lordship of, Hon’ble Sri Justice R. Subash Reddy and Executive Chairman of Telangana State Legal Services Authority pleased to direct for constitution of Pension Lok Adalat to put an end to the hardship and disputes / grievances of the pensioners. Accordingly, the Member Secretary of Telangana State Legal Services Authority has constituted Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalat Bench to resolve the pension cases of Telangana State Government retired employees.
This type Lokadalat is also going on now-a-days .These are organized in various parts of the country by travelling from one place to another place to settle the disputes between the people. According 2015 more than 15.14 lakhs lokadalats have been organized in different parts of the country. Around 8.25 crore cases has been settled by this mechanism.
As per 2017record in Telangana 11,662 cases were settled in the National Lokadalat. The settled cases includes 6613 pre-litigation cases and 5,049 pending cases of all categories and Rs.19.31 crores is awarded as compensation to the Telangana state.
Not only are these types of Lok Adalat there many types of Lok Adalat they are:
- Continuous Lok Adalat
- Mega Lok Adalat
Continuous Lok Adalat:
The Lok Adalat which is organized continuously is called continuous Lok Adalat.
Mega Lok Adalat:
This type of Lok Adalat is held on the state level, in all the courts of the state.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
Lok Adalats are efficiently providing these services to the people by speedy trials. It provided justice to a large number of people since it was started in 1962 in Gujarat. Till now millions of cases were settled. Until March 1996 there are only 13061 Lok Adalats all over India. But it was increased as days are proceeding.
As Telangana was formed as a new state in 2014. Since 2014 to 2018 many developments took place in every field even in Law and Order also. On 22nd April 2018, 12842 cases are settled. In December 2018 National Lok Adalat is going to be held in Delhi High Court, where a lot of cases are going to be solved which is pending in various courts in different states.
Lok Adalat in Telangana is playing a vital role in achievement of the Gandhian Principle of access to justice for all. Many cases (civil, revenue, criminal, partition claims, matrimonial issues, family disputes, mutation of land cases, bonded labour cases, bank’s unpaid loan cases, family court cases) were being dealt in Lok Adalat of Telangana. Because of origin Lok Adalats work on part of the courts was decreased.
Many cases were speedily disposed without expenses from the common man, the poor, backward and needy sections of the society. In Telangana, speedy justice and saving time from the lengthy court procedures, justice at no cost, solving problems of many pending cases, maintaining co-ordinal relations between the parties, were being effectively done by the Lok Adalats.
Lok Adalats particularly in Telangana has been a success in practice and playing a very important role to advance and strength, equal access to justice.
As in Telangana maximum numbers of Lok Adalats need to be organized to achieve the Gandhian principle of Gram Swaraj and “access to justice for all”. The states of Telangana are the one making successful. As Lok Adalat is a platform for Alternate dispute redressal. The clients should be helped by a host of judges, lawyers, insurance experts, revenue experts, and the police to resolve their long pending cases.
- As Lok Adalat is considered as platform for redressal of disputes and important instrument of the philosophy .The settlement of disputes through Lok Adalat should be added as a Fundamental Duty under Article 51 A of the Constitution.
- Presently in Lok Adalat cases related to civil, revenue, criminal, partition claims, matrimonial issues, family disputes, mutation of land cases, bonded labour cases, bank’s unpaid loan cases, family court cases are dealt .But even they should deal with the following cases intellectual property disputes, cases related to education system, cyber crimes, cases of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).
- As in Lok Adalat, it takes only compoundable offences under Code of Criminal Procedure, so there should some more crimes should be added to the list of compoundable offences in the list.
- Prime Minster said that the Law students during their course they should do a research project on Lok Adalat. In the same way the Lok Adalat law should be added to their curriculum.
- if we talk about the villagers they are illiterate the students, law teachers and who are illiterate should make them aware about their rights and Lok Adalats.
- As media is considered as a platform where it generates all types of information, so it should be used to create awareness among the people. Apart from these, there are many methods like publicizing in internet, press, radio, posters, hoardings etc.
Author Details: Medishetty Manaswini (2nd year student at University of Petroleum and Energy Studies)
The views of the author are personal only.
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