Concept of Lok Adalat which is Alternative dispute resolution system has been in our tradition and history for centuries but it gained constitutional validity in Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and Article 39-A contains various provision to be settled in Lok Adalat. After wide acceptance of Lok Adalat in the country and effective functioning of it in every district, One of problem that was faced by parties which also delayed the process of dispute resolution was non-consent of one of the party even though there is an reasonable settlement offer on the table. So to counter this problem parliament in 2002 brought certain amendment to Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and brought Section 22-B. Permanent Lok Adalat has same function Lok Adalat but its reward are binding on both the parties and final. Settlement award given by Permanent Lok Adalat can only be challenged in high court by judicial review and later in supreme court.
MEMBERS OF PERMANENT LOK ADALAT
As per section of 22b of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 Permanent Lok Adalat consist of following member:
- Chairman of the Permanent Lok Adalat: Who is judicial officer either in the rank of District Judge or Additional District Judge or has held judicial office higher in rank than that of a District Judge
- Two other Member: Who has experience in public utility service to be nominated by the Central Government or, as the case may be, the State Government on the recommendation of the Central Authority or, as the case may be, the State Authority, appointed by the Central Authority or, as the case may be, the State Authority, establishing such Permanent Lok Adalat
TYPES OF CASES TAKEN BY PERMANENT LOK ADALAT
Any Party to a dispute may make an application to the Permanent Lok-Adalat for settlement of the dispute before the dispute is brought before any Court But with following conditions:
- Permanent Lok Adalat also takes criminal cases which are compoundable under IPC.
- Any Property dispute case where value of property less than 10 lakhs
- Where an application is made to the court then no party shall invoke the jurisdiction of court
PROCESS OF PROCEEDING OF PERMANENT LOK ADALAT
As per section 22( C) of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 the following procedure has to followed after acceptance of application by permanent Lok Adalat:
- It will direct each party to file a written statement, stating therein the facts and nature of dispute under the application, points or issues in such dispute and grounds relied in support of, or in opposition to, such points or issues, as the case may be, and parties may supplement such statement with any document and other evidence which such party deems appropriate in proof of such facts and grounds and shall send a copy of such statement together with a copy of such document and other evidence, if any, to each of the parties to the application;
- May require any party to the application to file additional statement before it at any stage of the conciliation proceedings which it will communicate to other party for it to prepare reply thereto.
- When statement, additional statement and reply have been filed, to the satisfaction of the Permanent Lok Adalat, it shall conduct conciliation proceedings between the parties to the application in such manner as it thinks appropriate taking into account the circumstances of the dispute.
- The Permanent Lok Adalat shall, during conduct of conciliation proceedings assist the parties in their attempt to reach an amicable settlement of the dispute in an independent and impartial manner.
It is the duty of every party to the application to cooperate in good faith in conciliation of the dispute and to comply with the direction of the Permanent Lok Adalat to produce evidence and other related documents before it.
- When a Permanent Lok Adalat, in conciliation proceedings, is of opinion that there exist elements of settlement in such proceedings which may be acceptable to the parties, it may formulate the terms of a possible settlement of the parties, and give to the parties concerned for their observations and in case the parties reach at an agreement on the settlement of the dispute, they shall sign the settlement agreement and the Permanent Lok Adalat shall pass an award in terms thereof and furnish a copy of the same to each of the parties concerned.
- Where the parties fail to reach at an agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat shall, if the dispute does not relate to any offence, decide the dispute.
AWARD OF PERMANENT LOK ADALAT
- Award of the Permanent Lok Adalat made either on merit or in terms of a settlement agreement shall be final and binding on all the parties thereto and on persons claiming under them.
- Every award of the Permanent Lok Adalat shall be treated as decree of a civil court.
- The award made should be agreement of maximum member of permanent Lok Adalat.
- Permanent Lok Adalat award shall be final and shall not be called in question in any original suit, application of execution, proceeding. Except when judicial review is filed by one of the party in high court.
- The Permanent Lok Adalat may transmit any award made by it to a civil court having local jurisdiction and such civil court shall execute the order as if it were a decree made by that court.
Benefits of Permanent Lok Adalat
- To provide speedy settlement to the parties.
- To have a win-win situation.
- Can Charge interest on compensation on delay of payment.
- No Court fees
- There is no fixed language of court so it helps local people to present their case.
- Provide Justice at Grass root level.
- Legal aid is also provided in some cases.
- Reduces the burden on court.
Permanent Lok Adalat helps to settle cases in fast and efficient manner. It helps party to reach an amicable decision and solve their dispute as award given by the ADALAT are binding on the both the parties so it helps to reach a settlement fast. Permanent Lok Adalat has gained popularity in a very short period of time in community of litigants. So, I believe its an positive steps taken by legislation to strengthen our judiciary.