A General Overview of Lok Adalats
As a theoretical construct, the scheme of Lok Adalats has immense potential to facilitate an efficient, quick, and amicable resolution of disputes. An institutionalised approach to Lok Adalats can have significant ramifications on the manner in which disputes are sought to be settled in a civilized society.
Lok Adalats are supposed to be less time-consuming. Parties can resort to Lok Adalats in order to get time-bound justice as the procedure is fast-tracked. It is cost-effective. Since in the system of Lok Adalat parties are technically not required to pay any chargeable fees and they are not even required to take the professional assistance of Advocates, they end up in a comfortable situation where getting the dispute resolved does not require to spend much. When a matter is decided in a Lok Adalat, the cumbersome legal procedures are not followed. The Lok Adalat system is primarily based on the 'Law of Equity‘ and does not require any clumsy paperwork, arguments, written notes, recording of evidence, etc. to be done as a result of which parties get their dispute resolved in a simplistic manner.
The very system of Lok Adalat aims at deciding disputes between the parties at the grassroots level. Because of this philosophy, the Cases are identified in a given area, and Lok Adalats are conducted in that particular area whereby the litigants are not required to come to Court covering much distance to get their dispute settled. Under this system, it is the Court that goes to people to settle their dispute and in true sense deliver justice at the door-step.
The system ensures that there is no unnecessary intervention of unauthorized persons/advocates/ touts/clerks in pending litigation and allows the litigants to directly settle their dispute in a judicial manner with their own consent. As the name suggests Lok Adalat is the Court of the people where supreme importance is given to the litigants. They are never threatened or coerced to enter into any judicial settlement without their free and fair consent. The system ensures that the litigants are given ample opportunity to represent themselves in the Lok Adalat. It further makes it mandatory that only a lawful compromise between the parties or only a lawful admission of guilt is recorded in Lok Adalat.
Despite these inherent benefits in the scheme of Lok Adalats, it is but obvious from numerous research studies undertaken that the present system concerning Lok Adalats is far from satisfactory. While specific recommendations have been outlined throughout numerous reports on the subject, two significant general constraints can be identified as the major impediment to the more efficient functioning of Lok Adalats; one from the perspective of the judicial officers who conduct Lok Adalats and the other from the perspective of the common people who are supposed to participate in Lok Adalats.