- GS 2: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- Recently, Supreme Court has observed that Lok Adalat has no jurisdiction to decide the matter on merits.
- The Supreme Court has said that once it is found that compromise or settlement could not be arrived at between the parties, the Lok Adalat has no jurisdiction to decide the matter on merits.
- The apex court has maintained that the provisions of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 clearly states that the jurisdiction of the Lok Adalat would be to arrive at a compromise between the parties to a dispute.
- The court has said that once the compromise fails, the Lok Adalat has to return the case to the court to decide upon the merit of the case.
- Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms where disputes or cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are compromised amicably.
- Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
- The Act constitutes provisions to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society according to Article 39A of the constitution.
- Under the said Act, the award made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
- If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat, there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, however they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction.
No court fees
- There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat.
- If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties.
Lok Adalat composition
- Every Lok Adalat organised for an area shall consist of
- A judicial officer as a chairman,
- and a lawyer and a social worker as members.
Lok Adalat types
- National Lok Adalat
- These are held at regular intervals all over the nation at all levels starting from State authority level to the Taluka level.
- Permanent Lok Adalat
- These are established as permanent bodies with a chairman and two members who provide a pre-litigative mechanism for settlement of matters relating to public utility services
- If parties to the dispute fail to follow the settlement mechanism, then the permanent Lok Adalat have jurisdiction to decide the matter.
- As per legal services authority of India, the permanent Lok Adalat has a jurisdiction not exceeding 10 lakhs.
- Mobile Lok Adalat
- Mobile Lok Adalat are courts that travel from one place to another in order to help the parties in dispute reach an amicable settlement.
Lok Adalat: Challenges
- In the quest of speedy justice delivery, sometimes the rights of parties are ignored.
- Lawyers are also reluctant to refer the matter for settlement in Lok Adalat.
- Lok Adalat is based on compromise so it is not considered as an effective redressal of grievance redressal rather it delays the already delayed process of justice delivery.
- An influential party intimidates the lawyer to follow the strict procedure. It challenges the basic rationale behind establishment of Lok Adalat.
- It is also accused that judges are handpicked to decide on a case for political gains.