Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Context: Emergence of Lok Adalat has proved to be the most efficacious tool of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- Access to justice for the poor is a constitutional mandate to ensure fair treatment under our legal system. Hence, Lok Adalats (literally, ‘People’s Court’) were established to make justice accessible and affordable to all.
- The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, inserted Article 39A to ensure “equal justice and free legal aid”.
- To this end, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, was enacted by Parliament and it came into force in 1995 “to provide free and competent legal services to weaker sections of the society” and to “organise Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity”.
A total number of 1,27,87,329 cases were disposed off in 2021.
- Organization of prior consultative and review meetings with all the State Legal Services Authorities to guide them towards the maximum disposal during such Lok Adalats.
- Before the organization of each National Lok Adalat, multiple interactions were organised with the Executive Chairpersons of all the State Legal Services Authorities, wherein one-to-one interactions were made to take a stock of the preparations as well as to boost the morale of the stakeholders tasked to organize the Lok Adalats.
- A cumulative effect of all the preparatory and mobilization measures resulted in extraordinary disposal figures during the year 2021.
Through these activities NALSA disposed off a large number of cases, giving relief to the common citizens by ending or preventing long lasting legal battles.
What are the factors behind the success of Lok Adalats?
- In June 2020, the Legal Services Authorities integrated technology with the conventional modes of dispute settlement and introduced virtual Lok Adalats also called as ‘E-Lok Adalats’. Since then, all the Lok Adalats including National Lok Adalats are organized through virtual and hybrid modes.
- To provide an unhindered experience during the proceedings, the Legal Services Authorities across the country are continuously upgrading their digital infrastructure.
- Provided effective ways of supervision and monitoring of Lok Adalats.
B. Formulation of decisive strategies at the National level
- Under these strategies, the State Legal Services Authorities were instructed to conduct meetings with various stakeholder across every level with an objective to ensure their full cooperation and coordination.
- The authorities were guided to follow a litigant friendly approach as well as to persuade such litigants to settle the cases involving settled propositions of law.
- Moreover, certain areas of law having greater possibilities of settlement such as NI Act cases, Bank recovery cases along other financial matters were highlighted and authorities were instructed to explore all the possibilities of compromise in such cases.
- The authorities were advised to proactively monitor the issuance and completion of processes in such financial matters as well as to conduct pre-Lok Adalat sittings to take a matter to a settlement.
News Source: PIB