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Lok Adalat in India

Lok Adalat is one of the significant modes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism. It is strictly not a Court in the conventional sense in as much as the Lok Adalat does not adjudicate on dispute. It is a forum where disputes between the parties are resolved by conciliation, mediation and negotiation.

The Lok Adalats have been statutorily recognized in India. When statutory recognition had been given to Lok Adalat, it was specifically provided that the award passed by Lok Adalat formulating the terms of compromise will have the force of a Decree of a Court which can be duly executed as a Civil Court decree.

As per law, State Legal Services Authority or District Legal Services Authority or the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or every High Court Legal Services Committee or, as the case may be, Taluk Legal Services Committee may organize Lok Adalats at such intervals and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it thinks fit.

The Lok Adalat is presided over by a serving or retired judicial officer and other persons, such as a lawyer and a social worker.

Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of-

  1. Any case pending before any court.
  2. Any matter which is not brought before, any Court and still at a Pre – litigative stage.
  3. It can compromise and settle even criminal cases, which are compoundable under the relevant laws. Lok Adalats do not have the statutory power to entertain any case or matter relating to an offence not compoundable by law

PROCEDURE AT LOK ADALAT:

The procedure followed at a Lok Adalat is very simple and not as detailed as the procedure being followed at Courts.

  1. The Application could be filed by both the parties to the dispute or parties to the dispute could even verbally mention the matter before the Court at the time of hearing for referring the matter to Lok Adalat.

  2. Any one of the party may also file an Application for referring the dispute to Lok Adalat and Court after hearing all the parties, if prima facie satisfied that there are chances for settlement, may refer the dispute to Lok Adalat.

  3. Lok Adalat while determining any reference before it under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 shall deal with the matter with utmost expedition to arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties and shall be guided by the principles of justice, equity, fair play and other legal principles.

  4. When no compromise or settlement is accomplished, the case is to be returned to the Court which referred it. Then the case will proceed in the Court from the stage immediately before the reference.

Further no Court Fee is required to be paid by the parties. The parties can be represented by a legal counsel hired by them but in case, due to some reasons if they cannot afford a legal counsel themselves then, a counsel can be provided by the Legal Aid Committee.

AWARD PASSED BY LOK ADALAT:

Every award of the Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be a Decree of a Civil Court and shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute, and no appeal shall lie to any court against the award.

REFUND OF COURT FEE:

If a pending case is settled at Lok Adalat, any Court fee already paid will be refunded as per the provisions of the Court Fees Act, 1870.


- As on 1st July 2019