1. Introduction And Brief History
The concept of conciliated settlement of disputes is not alien to the traditional Indian culture and social life. Nyaya Panchayats and Gram Panchayat provided seats for resolving the disputes in rural areas on an immediate basis. Generally, any crime or civil dispute used to be resolved within the village itself. Either village elders or caste elders or family elders used to facilitate the process.
The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the victims for satisfactory settlement of their disputes. This system is based on Gandhian principles. ...view middle of the document...
It is, therefore clear that the State has been ordained to secure a legal system, which promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity. The language of Article-39 A is understood in mandatory terms. This is made more than clear by the use of the word “shall” in Art-39 A.
It is emphasized that the legal system should be able to deliver justice expeditiously on the basis of equal opportunity and provide free legal aid to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizens by reasons of economic or other disabilities. It was in this context that the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 has been enacted by the Parliament. One of the aims of this Act is to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity. Chapter VI of the Act deals with Lok Adalats. The Act created National, State and District Legal Service Authorities with the power to organize Lok Adalats.
The poor and resourceless persons need justice, they require for that, an access to justice. Mere recognition of rights does not help them, without providing for necessary infrastructure to secure them justice whenever needed. Even if the infrastructure is created, if he does not get the ‘legal aid’ to reach it, the purpose of entire justice system suffers a defeat.
In Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar, the Supreme Court observed:
Today, unfortunately, in our country the poor are priced out of the judicial system with the result that they are losing faith in the capacity of our legal system to bring about changes in their life conditions and to deliver justice to them. The poor in their contact with the legal system have always been on the wrong side of the line. They have always come across “law for the poor” rather than “law of the poor”. The law is regarded by them as something mysterious and forbidding--always taking something away from them and not as a positive and constructive social device for changing the social economic order and improving their life conditions by conferring rights and benefits on them. The result is that the legal system has lost its credibility for the weaker section of the community. It is, therefore, necessary that we should inject equal justice into legality and that can be done only by dynamic and activist scheme of legal services.
3. Cases Suitable For Lok Adalats
Lok Adalats have competence to deal with a number of cases like:
· Compoundable civil, revenue and criminal cases.
· Motor accident compensation claims cases
· Partition Claims
· Damages Cases
· Matrimonial and family disputes
· Mutation of lands case
· Land Pattas cases
· Bonded Labour cases
· Land acquisition disputes
· Bank’s unpaid loan cases
· Arrears of retirement benefits cases
· Family Court cases
· Cases which are not sub-judice
4. Cognizance Of Cases By Lok Adalats
A Lok Adalat may take cognizance of cases, as per Section 20 of the Legal Services Authority Act...