The villages in India have followed a means of dispute resolution, unlike any practices seen in western countries. The mechanism of has a group of five people, known as the “panchayat”, with a residing head (‘panch’), hearing out a dispute that arose between the concerned residents of the village with a view of solving the same has been a part of the rural governance system before it was even formally recognised by law. This system of self-governance was recognised legally in the country via the 73rd Amendment, where the concept of the Panchayati Raj system was inducted in Part IX of the Indian Constitution, which further inspired the inclusion of the Lok Adalat system.
The legality of Lok Adalat
- The National Legal Services Authority acknowledged the benefits of Lok Adalats in a rural setting and, through its 1987 Act, provided statutory authorisation to the dispute resolution mechanism under s.19.
- This section allowed every state/district authority & taluk committee to establish a Lok Adalat to resolve any pending disputes due to its inexpensiveness and time-saving.
- The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 also included in s.21 the binding nature of any award passed by the Lok Adalat- which also came devoid of an appeals procedure.
- Article 40 of the Constitution of India also talks about a directive principle that encourages the establishment of village panchayats and empowers the self-governing features of the same, which further includes the concept of Lok Adalats.
The procedure of Lok Adalats
The amalgamation of the three traditional forms of alternative dispute resolution makes up the base of a Lok Adalat hearing. The thing to note is that this procedure followed the steps of these conventional measures way before they were formally recognised by law. In totality, because the purpose of a Lok Adalat meeting is to ensure dispute resolution which satisfies the purpose of all the parties to the case, hence, a means of dialogue following the steps of a mediation and conciliation procedure can be seen in this method, to ensure the legality of the decisions, a hint of arbitration is also seen to provide the legally binding nature of the decision, in addition to which, negotiating is central to the procedure.
Benefits of Lok Adalat-
- Extremely inexpensive in comparison to court trials and settlement fees
- The decision of a Lok Adalat is not appealable. Hence a complete attempt at a judicial decision is made.
- Eases the burden on bigger courts of the country
- Although the procedure may seem informal, maintenance of cordial relations is emphasised during the procedure.
This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being. Further, despite all efforts made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information published, White Code VIA Mediation and Arbitration Centre shall not be responsible for any errors caused due to human error or otherwise.