Significance of Lok Adalats
In our justice-delivery system, the litigant, who forms the very foundation of the judicial structure is also the one who is most neglected in the system. It is imperative to reach the goal of equal access to justice, which is a Constitutional commandment and statutory imperative. The unmanageable burden of pending cases, unmanageable arrears, and delay in disposal of cases in courts at all levels-lowest to the highest-along with high expenses have undoubtedly attracted the attention of the lawyers, litigants, social activists, legal academicians, and parliament but also Judges of the courts. At present the arrears of cases as so huge that unless they are disposed of on a war footing the system may crumble down in a few years' time. It appears that the current justice delivery system in this country is about to collapse. So, it is natural that the alarming situation of the Indian judiciary has attracted the attention of anyone concerned with law reforms.
The pertinent question that arises, therefore, is how to reduce the delay in disposal of cases, make the system resilient by removing its stratification, making the system less formal and inexpensive so as to make justice within the reach of the poor. If truth be told, the existing legal system has remained unfortunately alien having no direct contact with masses and is not at all meaningful to them. The surprising growth in the arrears of cases has compelled the members of the Law Commission of India to deliberate on the revival of the indigenous legal system and recommended it‘s restructuring to provide a new model or mechanism for dissolving disputes on the principles of participatory justice. A need has been felt for the decentralization of the system of administration of justice to reduce the volume of work.
In various countries, such as the United States of America and western countries such as England and France, the contribution of the Bar in rendering free and competent legal-aid is praiseworthy and it must be adopted in India. Lawyers must respond with juristic sensitivity to the voice of weak, poor, suppressed, and exploited women and destitute children so as to create an equal society for them in which they can prosper. The bar must evolve a scheme to ensure that poor are able to afford justice. The advocates are the cornerstones of the legal services who ensure compliance with our Constitution, lex suprema and ensure the statutory rights of the needy and deserving citizens of our country. The purpose of the Lok Adalat was/has been to provide a supplementary system to the mainstream legal system. The sanctity for holding Lok Adalat or people's court lies in the growing dissatisfaction with the existing legal system and the need for immediate relief for poor, helpless, economically and socially disadvantaged position, etc., who are in distressed familiar circumstances. The requirement of immediate redressal and speedy disposal of disputes was felt most acutely in the present socio-legal circumstances.