Lok Adalat is a Court organised by any Sub-divisional Legal Services Committee/District Legal Services Authority/High Courst Legal Services Committee/State Legal Services Authority for settlement of a dispute by bringing compromise between the parties to it.
Lok Adalat consists of two or more conciliators, one of whom shall have to be Judicial Officer either in services or retired and other person(s) may be from amongst eminent social workers or advocates or persons of repute sepcially interested in the implementation of legal services schemes and programmes.
What categories of cases are settled in Lok Adalat?
All cases of civil and criminal nature which are permitted under law to be compromised and compounded are settled in Lok Adalats. For example:
- Motor Vehicle Accident Compensation cases;
- Land acquisition cases;
- Cases pertaining to banks and other financial institutions;
- Cases by and against Goverment and other Local bodies such a panchayat, Muncipality, Corposation, Electricity Board etc.
- Matrimonial and maintenance cases;
- Labour Dispute, Industrial Dispute and the cases under workmen Compensation Act;
- Cases under Consumer Protection Act;
- Criminal cases wherein the offences are lawfully compoundable; etc.
But criminal cases involving heinous offences such as robbery, dacoity, murder, rape etc., which are non-compoundable and civil cases where the compromise between the parties is prohibited, or not permitted, by any special law, cannot be settled in Lok Adalat.
How to bring a dispute/case before Lok Adalat for settlement?
- If the dispute is not yet brought before any court, either party to the dispute may submit an application before the Chairman of Sub-divisional Committee/District Authority expressing his desire to get the dispute settled in Lok Adalat.
- If the case is already pending before any Court/Tribunal/Authority or Office, it may be got referred to Lok Adalat by filing a joint memo by both the parties to it or by filing an application by either party to it.
- Court may itself refer a case to Lok Adalat on its own if it considers the case fit for settlement in Lok Adalat.
How the disputes are settled in Lok Adalat?
After any dispute or case is referred to Lok Adalat, presence of both the parties to it will be Secured and the conciliators will advise both the parties and then bring about compromise between them. If the parties arrive at a comprise, the same will be recorded and necessary Order or Awared will be passed by the Conciliators.
If the parties to a dispute I arrive at a compromise, the case will be returned to the concerned Court where it will be proceeded with and disposed of on merits.
If such dispute is a Pre-Litigative one (i.e. a dispute which is not yet brought before any court) in the event of failure of compromise, the parties will be advised to approach the proper Court for getting their dispute decided on merits
SALIENT FEATURES OF LOK ADALATS
* An order or award passed by Lok Adalat shall be final and no appeal lies against it.
* Litigants may participate in Lok Adalat either directly or through their advocates.
* If any litigant needs legal assistance, the same will be provided to him
* Since one of the Conciliators would be judge the litigants would get fair and impartial guidance in getting their dispute settled
* Justice through Lok Adalat would be totally inexpensive, as the litigants need not spend here anything towards Court fees, process fees, postage charges etc.
* If any case pending in any court is settled in Lok Adalat, parties to it would get refund of court fee paid in that case.
* The Litigants would get speedy justice
* The litigants would get the same justice, which they get in the Court concerned.
* The litigants may get their disputes settled only when they are satisfied with the compromise proposed by the Conciliators. If they are not satisfied, they will be at liberty to proceed with their case before the court concerned.