“While Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is a fairly standard western approach towards ADR, the Lok Adalat system constituted under National Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 is a uniquely Indian approach”.
It roughly means "People's Court". India has had a long history of resolving disputes through the mediation of village elders. The system of Lok Adalats is an improvement and is based on Gandhian principles. This is a non-adversarial system, whereby mock courts (called Lok Adalats) are held by the State Authority, District Authority, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Legal Services Committee, or Taluk Legal Services Committee, periodically for exercising such jurisdiction as they think fit. These are usually presided by a retired judge, social activists, or members of the legal profession. It does not have jurisdiction over matters related to non-compoundable offences.
There is no court fee and no rigid procedural requirement (i.e. no need to follow the Civil Procedure Code or Evidence Act), which makes the process very fast. Parties can directly interact with the judge, which is not possible in regular courts.
Cases that are pending in regular courts can be transferred to a Lok Adalat if both parties agree. A case can also be transferred to a Lok Adalat if one party applies to the court and the court sees some chance of settlement after giving an opportunity of being heard to the other party.
The focus in Lok Adalats is on compromise. When no compromise is reached, the matter goes back to the court. However, if a compromise is reached, an award is made and is binding on the parties. It is enforced as a decree of a civil court. An important aspect is that the award is final and cannot be appealed, not even under Article 226, because it is a judgement by consent.
All proceedings of a Lok Adalat are deemed to be judicial proceedings, and every Lok Adalat is deemed to be a Civil Court.
Lok Adalat (people’s courts), established by the government, settles dispute through conciliation and compromise. The First Lok Adalat was held in Chennai in 1986. Lok Adalat accepts the cases which could be settled by mediation and settlement and pending in the regular courts within their jurisdiction.
The Lok Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judicial officer as the chairman, with two other members, usually a lawyer and a social worker. There is no court fee. If the case is already filled in the regular court, the price paid will be refunded if the dispute is settled at the Lok Adalat. The procedural laws and the Evidence Act are not strictly followed while assessing the merits of the claim by the Lok Adalat.
The main condition of the Lok Adalat is that both parties in dispute should agree to a settlement. The decision of the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties to the debate, and its order is capable of execution through the legal process. No appeal lies against the order of the Lok Adalat.
Lok Adalat is very effective in the settlement of money claims. Disputes like partition suits, damages and matrimonial cases can also be easily settled before Lok Adalat as the scope for compromise through an approach of giving and take is high in these cases.
Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public, where they can get their disputes settled fast and free of cost.
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.