Law Relating to Lok Adalats as a Mode of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Must Read

Law Relating to Arbitration as a Mode of Alternative Dispute Resolution

This Article analyses the The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, taking into account UNCITRAL Model Law and Rules and also vastly making amendments in the law relating to domestic arbitration contained in the 1940 Act. It also discusses the salient features of the said Act.

The Ban on Online Gaming by the Tamil Nadu Government – The Right Way Forward?

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court heard public interest litigation concerning the ban of certain online games, an ordinance was later passed in this regard. However, the Ordinance leaves several questions unanswered, for example, manifesting as the clear lack of a definition of ‘wagering’ and ‘betting’.

ITC not Monopolizing ‘Magic’ in “Magic Masala’: Madras High Court

A seven-year-old legal dispute between two FMCGs was finally disposed of by the Madras High Court on June 10,...

Delhi High Court Allows the FMC Corporation To Amend Its Defective Plaint and Slams the Natco Pharma for Making Inconsistent Pleas in a Patent...

In the matter of FMC Corporation & Anr v. Natco Pharma, CS(COMM) 611/2019 (Suit), the Learned Single Judge of...

The “Shift” Shifts: Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Act, 2020

“Equality is leaving the door open for anyone who has the means to reach it; equity is ensuring there...

Impact on Statutory Time Limits for Passing an Award on Account of COVID-19 Pandemic

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 brought about a serious overhaul to the justice delivery system through arbitration....
L&L Partners Law Officeshttps://www.llpartners.com/
Since its inception in 1990 which coincides with India’s economic liberalization, L&L, formerly Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, has assisted numerous multinational corporations to set up their presence in India, and navigate the complex Indian legal system. Our new identity reaffirms inclusiveness and recognizes the contributions of its founder, partners, associates and support staff in creating a leading institution.

Follow us

The introduction of Lok Adalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the litigants for conciliatory settlement of their disputes. In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act (“Act”) was enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes throughout the country on a uniform pattern. This Act was finally enforced on November 9, 1995 after certain amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994. Hon. Mr. Justice R.N. Mishra the then Chief Justice of India played a key role in the enforcement of the Act.

National Legal Services Authority was constituted on 5th December 1995. His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, Judge, Supreme Court of India took over as the Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority on July 17, 1997. Soon after assuming the office, His Lordship initiated steps for making the National Legal Services Authority functional. The first Member Secretary of the authority joined in December 1997 and by January 1998 the other officers and staff were also appointed. By February 1998, the office of National Legal Services Authority became properly functional for the first time.

In October 1998, His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand assumed the Office of the Chief Justice of India and thus became the Patron-in-Chief of National Legal Services Authority. His Lordship Hon. Mr. Justice S.P. Bharucha, the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court of India assumed the office of the Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority.

A nationwide network has been envisaged under the Act for providing legal aid and assistance. National Legal Services Authority is the apex body constituted to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act and to frame most effective and economical schemes for legal services. It also disburses funds and grants to State Legal Services Authorities and NGOs for implementing legal aid schemes and programmes.

District Legal Services Authority is constituted in every District to implement Legal Aid Programmes and Schemes in the District. The District Judge of the District is its ex-officio Chairman.

Taluk Legal Services Committees are also constituted for each of the Taluk or Mandal or for a group of Taluk or Mandals to coordinate the activities of legal services in the Taluk and to organize Lok Adalats. Every Taluk Legal Services Committee is headed by a senior Civil Judge operating within the jurisdiction of the Committee who is its ex-officio Chairman.

The Central Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing such functions as may be determined by regulations made by the Central Authority.

As per Section 20 of the Act, cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat only:-

(i) By consent of both the parties to the disputes.

(ii) When one of the parties makes an application for reference.

(iii) Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat.

(iv) When compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of justice, equity, fair play and other legal principles.

(v) Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation, the matter shall be returned to the concerned court for disposal in accordance with Law.

Section 21 of the said Act provides that after an agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties, the award is passed by the Lok Adalat. The matter need not be referred to the concerned Court for a consent decree. As per the Act, every award of a Lok Adalat shall be deemed as a decree of Civil Court. Further, every award is final and binding on all the parties to the dispute and no appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat.

Proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings for the purpose of summoning of witnesses, discovery of documents, collection of evidences and requisitioning of public records.

It is emphasized that the legal system should be able to deliver justice expeditiously on the basis of equal opportunity and provide free legal aid to secure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizens by reasons of economic or other disabilities. It was in this context that the Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.

The need of the hour was frantically beckoning for setting up Lok Adalats on a permanent and continuous basis. What we do today will shape our tomorrow. Lok Adalat is between an ever-burdened Court System crushing the choice under its own weight and alternative dispute resolution machinery including an inexpensive and quick dispensation of justice. The Lok Adalat and alternative dispute resolution experiment must succeed otherwise the consequence for an overburdened court system would be disastrous. The system needs to inhale the life-giving oxygen of justice through the note.

A need was felt to amend the provisions of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 to incorporate the concept of Permanent Lok Adalats. As a consequence, the Act was amended in 2002 vide Act 37 of 2002 with effect from June 11, 2002. Sections 22A to 22E were added to the Act in the form of Chapter VIA dealing with Pre-litigation Conciliation and Settlement.

The amendment provided for the establishment of Permanent Lok Adalats, which shall consist of a Chairman who is or has been a District Judge or Additional District Judge or has held judicial office higher in rank than that of the district judge and two other persons having adequate experience in public utility services. The Permanent Lok Adalat shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of one or more public utility services such as transport services of passengers or goods by air, road and water, postal, telegraph or telephone services, supply of power, light or water to the public by any establishment, public conservancy or sanitation, services in hospitals or dispensaries; and insurance services. The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok Adalat has raised to rupees ten lakhs. However, the Central Government may increase the said pecuniary jurisdiction from time to time. It shall have not jurisdiction in respect of any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law. The amendment also provides that before the dispute is brought before any court, any party to the dispute may make an application to the Permanent Lok Adalat for settlement of the dispute.

Where it appears to the Permanent Lok Adalat that there exist elements of a settlement, which may be acceptable to the parties, it shall formulate the terms of a possible settlement and submit them to the parties for their observations. In case the parties reach an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall pass an award in terms thereof. In case parties to the dispute fail to reach an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall decide the dispute on merits. Every award made by the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties thereto and shall be by a majority of the persons constituting the Permanent Lok Adalat.

The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted to constitute legal services authorities for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society. The reason was to ensure that opportunities for securing justice were not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities and to organize Lok Adalats to ensure that the operation of the legal system promoted justice on a basis of equal opportunity. The system of Lok Adalat, which is an innovative mechanism for alternate dispute resolution, has proved effective for resolving disputes in a spirit of conciliation outside the courts.

However, the major drawback in the existing scheme of the organization of the Lok Adalats under Chapter VI of the said Act is that the system of Lok Adalats is mainly based on compromise or settlement between the parties. If the parties do not arrive at any compromise or settlement, the case is either returned to the court of law or the parties are advised to seek a remedy in a court of law. This causes unnecessary delay in the dispensation of justice. If Lok Adalats are given the power to decide the cases on merits in case parties fails to arrive at any compromise or settlement, this problem can be tackled to a great extent.

Further, the cases which arise in relation to public utility services such as Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Delhi Vidyut Board, etc., need to be settled urgently so that people get justice without delay even at pre-litigation stage. Thus, most of the petty cases which ought not to go in the regular courts would be settled at the pre-litigation stage itself which would result in reducing the workload of the regular courts to a great extent. It is, therefore, proposed to amend the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to set up Permanent Lok Adalats for providing a compulsory pre-litigative mechanism for conciliation and settlement of cases relating to public utility services.

The United States, through Chief justice Warren Burger and the American Bar Association, has been experimenting with and discussing non-judicial routes like arbitration and negotiation as well as simpler judicial alternatives to make justice a poor man’s pragmatic hope. India, like America, suffers from ‘litigation neuroses’ the poor are the worst victims because the rich can afford forensic mountaineering while the needy freeze to death midway. It is therefore integral to any Statute under 39 A to discover imaginatively and innovatively all methodologies of getting inexpensive, early and easy justice. In the United States, Small Claims Courts have been tried with success to resolve minor disputes fairly and more swiftly than any present judicial mechanisms make possible.


The Authors of this article, Sanjeev Kumar is a Partner and Anshul Sehgal is a Managing Associate in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Team at L&L Partners Law Offices, New Delhi. They can be reached out at [email protected] and [email protected] The views expressed are personal.


Libertatem.in is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgements from the court. Follow us on Google NewsInstagramLinkedInFacebook Twitter. You can also subscribe for our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest News

SC: Under-21 Convicts Can Be Given Less Than Minimum Sentence, Resorts To Probation of Offenders Act

The Supreme Court resorted to the Probation of Offenders Act to sidestep the mandate under Section 397 of the Indian Penal Code that mentions a sentence of not less than 7 years to those convicted of armed robbery, to give a chance to two young convicts to reform their lives.

Environment Protection Act Passed at the Instance of Foreign Powers: NHAI in Karnataka HC

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) claimed in a submission that the Environment Protection Act 1986 was passed not only for the protection of the environment by the parliament but also at the instance of foreign powers. This statement was made while referring to a UN conference and got the NHAI into great trouble in the Karnataka High Court.

Delhi High Court To Implement a Hybrid System Through Virtual and Physical Hearing

On Friday the Delhi High Court said that they have initiated steps to implement a mode wherein hearing can be done by virtual as well as physical mode. The Delhi High Court is aiming to implement the Hybrid mode. It stated that when the particular bench is conducting a virtual hearing the lawyer may opt for this mode after giving prior intimation about the same.

Mercy Plea of Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case To Be Decided in Four Weeks, TN Governor To Supreme Court

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Thursday told the Supreme Court that a decision on the mercy petition of one of the convicts serving a life sentence for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, AG Perarivalan will be taken within four weeks. The petition has been pending with the Governor since December 30, 2015.

Bombay High Court Questions FIR Over Journalist Alleged of Communist Comment on WhatsApp

An FIR lodged against the editor of Marathi newspaper, Rajkumar Chhajed has been questioned by the Bombay High Court. The Maharashtra Police has accused Chhajed of creating a rift between the two communities based on a WhatsApp message.

Allahabad High Court Expresses Dissatisfaction on Counsels Seeking Unnecessary Adjournments

The petition had been filed by Smt. Radha prayed to issue directions to Judicial Magistrate-I in Faizabad. The petition sought a speedy decision in...

[Delhi Riots] When the IT Ministry Calls Us, We Will Go Says Harish Salve To Delhi High Court

The Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook, Ajit Mohan told the Supreme Court that when the representatives of the company are called by the Information Technology Ministry they will come and record their statements.

Allahabad High Court Seeks Response on Compensation of Cutting Trees From National Highways Authority of India (Nhai) 

The Order had come in the form of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a bunch of law students in Uttar Pradesh. The...

Doctrine of Proportionality Must Adhere to Reasonableness Principal Test: Madras High Court

Young Men's Christian Association built a commercial complex and leased it without having due permission. The District Collector & Tahsildar issued a show-cause notice...

Delhi High Court Refuses To Stay Release of ‘The White Tiger’ on the OTT Platform Netflix

A plea requesting a stay on the release of the film ‘The White Tiger’ by the American producer, John Hart Jr. alleging copyright violation was rejected by the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -