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Lok Adalat (translation "People's Court") is a formal Indian judicial alternative dispute resolution forum that settles cases pending from the findings of a panchayat (an elected village council) and serves as the pre-litigation stage in a court of law. Lok Adalat is a traditional Indian method to relieve the overburdened court system by providing relatively quick arbitration. Decisions made through Lok Adalat have statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987. Under this act, the verdict made by the Lok Adalat is deemed to be of the same legally-binding force as findings from the civil court: final for all the parties and not subject to appeal. If the parties do not recognize the findings of the Lok Adalat, they may initiate litigation by approaching the official court that possesses the appropriate jurisdiction. The first official Lok Adalat was held in Gujarat in 1982.
- The first Lok Adalat was held in Gujarat in 1982.
- A Lok Adalat accepts cases pending in regular courts and which are under its jurisdiction.
- A Lok Adalat is presided over by the Members of Lok Adalat. Members act as statutory conciliators; they can only persuade the parties to come to a settlement, rather than order them.
- The main condition of a Lok Adalat is that both parties have to agree to be judged through the forum.
- There is no court fee; if a matter pending in a court of law is referred to a Lok Adalat and is subsequently settled, the court fee initially paid to the court is refunded to the parties.
- A Lok Adalat does not strictly follow procedural laws and the Indian Evidence Act while assessing the merits of the claim.
- The decision of a Lok Adalat is binding; its decision can be executed by a court of law.
- All proceedings in a Lok Adalat are recorded and maintained for future reference. Thus, it is also known as a court of record.
A Lok Adalat usually resolves disputes and civil cases related to financial matters, partition suits, damages, matrimonial law, family disputes and compoundable criminal cases. Section 22B of The Legal Services Authorities Act provides for the establishment of a Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA) for exercising jurisdiction in respect to one or more public utility services (PUS). Section 22A of The Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 states as to what constitutes a 'Public Utility Service' for a Permanent Lok Adalat.
Permanent Lok Adalat
This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2020)
A Permanent Lok Adalat (PUS) is a civil court that has been set up under the Legal Services Authorities Act. It is composed of a chairperson (who is a serving or retired District or Sessions Judge, or a Judicial Officer higher in the rank) and two other members who perform general judicial duties. The court is not bound by the Civil Procedure Code of 1908, and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, having the power to devise its own procedures. A Permanent Lok Adalat may summon a person or document, among other evidence. The pecuniary jurisdiction of a PLA is one crore rupees. In cases that have no direct monetary connection, the PLA can pass any order within the orbit of any Statutory or Constitutional mandate. The Permanent Lok Adalat system has been set up nationwide in places such as Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of functional Permanent Lok Adalats, with more than 50 PLA Courts in as many districts. Some notable Uttar Pradesh Permanent Lok Adalats are located in Kanpur Nagar, Allahabad, Lucknow, Aligarh, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, and Gautam Buddha Nagar.
The then-Chief Justice of India, Adarsh Sein Anand, while addressing the annual meet of the State Legal Services Authorities in 1999, made the following observations as to the legal power of the Permanent Lok Adalat:
There will be no harm if the Legal Services Authorities Act is amended to provide that in case, in a matter before it, the judges of the Lok Adalat are convinced that one of the parties is unreasonably opposing a reasonable settlement and has no valid defense whatsoever against the claim of the opposite party, they may pass an award based on the materials before them without the consent of the party standing in the way of a settlement.— Adarsh Sein Anand, Lok Adalats And Permanent Lok Adalats
In 2002, the Union Parliament amended The Legal Services Authorities Act to provide for the setting up of the Permanent Lok Adalat. Article 323A and 323B of the Indian Constitution provides for 'Tribunals'. Article 323A deals with Administrative Tribunals and article 323B deals with tribunals for other matters.[needs context]
As per Section 22(3) of Legal Services Authorities Act: "All proceedings before a 'Permanent Lok Adalat' shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of sections 193, 219 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code and every 'Permanent Lok Adalat' shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purpose of section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973."
- "Permanent Lok Adalat" (PDF). Haryana State Legal Services Authority.
- "Lok Adalat". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
- "Lok Adalats And Permanent Lok Adalats - Judicial Review - Lok Adalat Procedure - Finality of Lok Adalat award". www.legalserviceindia.com. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
- The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Universal Law Publishing.