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Lok Adalats : a boon for the Indian legal system

The former chief justice of India, E S Venkatarahmiah had obsrved : " the problem of delay and backlog was likely to put the functioning of Constitutional Government in disarray."

The primary reason for the conceptualization of the People's Court in India, popularly known as Lok Adalats was to create an alternative forum that could effectively and expeditiously dipose of cases and the quick dispensation of justice is rightly served. Also the inadequacy in the number of judges in the various courts leads to an accumulatio of cases overtime. To top that a huge expenditure was involved in the court proceedings to meet the expenses of hiring  a lawyer, paying the fees of the court, paying the charges involved in prosecuting or defending a case, incidental chargers, etc. In short a multitude of charges are involved in filing a caseand proceeding with the case that again, in turn, may continue for years and years. In other words maintaing a case in a normal court of law is an expensive, time consuming, uncertain, tiresome process and given the destituiton and poverty of the majority of the Indian masses, access to legal help mostly remains out of the reach of the poor, weak, suppressed and exploited masses to who courts and lawyers,given the frightening scenario of the legal system might seem like a luxury. The helplessness of these people defeats the Constitutional premise of providing every citizen the right of access to a free legal aid under article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution also under article 39A says that thestate shall ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunity and shall provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or some schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for ensuring justice are not denied to any citizen by eason of economic or any other disabilities.

However the indigenous legal system was doing bare minimum in furtherance of such Constituitional provision. In fact the existing legal framework was acting as a deterrant to such provision by adding negativity to the entire system. It remained an alien to the masses and could establish no direct contact with those who felt the need of it the most.

Thus the enactment of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 and the initiation of the Lok Adalat system in India came as a blessing to the crippling Indian legal branch helping to restore the lost sanctity and the faith of the people in the judiciary. The Preamble of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 states that the primary purpose of the act is to provide free and competent legal services by the State to the weaker sections of the society to secure them speedy justice and to also ensure that they are not deprived of it by eason of economic or other disabilities, and alos to organize Lok Adalats with a view to ensure that the operation of the legal system in the country promotes justice aming citizens on a basis of equal opportunity. Not only did the system of People's Court prove to be highly beneficial in providing legal aid to the poor, needy, helpless and economically and socially disadvantaged classes of people but it also ensured that the process is quick, fair and just. The system of Lok Adalats has helped in reducing the burden of the cases on the courts to a great extent and opened a new door for the people to setle their disputes in an amicable manner through negotiations, conciliations, persuasion and mutual cooperation and coordiantion.

  • problems of Indian legal system
  • Constitutional premises for right of legal justice to citizens
  • Formation of Lok Adalats and subsequent ransformation of the Indian judicial branch

BY : Mekhla Chakraborty

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