Free Press Journal

First National Lok Adalat: 7,97,484 cases taken up in State

The Adalat in progress in the city on Saturday

Pursuant to the SC direction, for the first time in the history of Indian judiciary, the National Lok Adalat was held in all courts of the country

The Adalat in progress in the city on Saturday

Mumbai : Pursuant to the Supreme Court direction, for the first time in the history of Indian judiciary, the National Lok Adalat was held on Saturday in all courts of the country.

In Maharashtra, 7,97,484 cases- the highest in the country- were heard by the Lok Adalat.

In Mumbai, it was held in the City Civil Court, Sessions Court, Small Cases Court, metropolitan courts, consumer forums, family courts, labour and industrial courts and the Charity Commissioner’s Office. More than 55,000 cases had been placed in all courts of Mumbai.

The National Lok Adalat, held in courts across the country, dealt with nearly 39 lakh cases, including accident claims, criminal, cheque bounce and bank recovery cases.

According to the legal service authorities in the State, the highest number of 7,97,484 and 5,66,102 cases were listed for settlement in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh respectively whereas in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal around 4,00,000 and above cases each were referred to Lok Adalats. The Supreme court heard 105 cases in Lok Adalat on Saturday.

In the Lok Adalat held in the Bombay High Court, 47 cases came up for hearing in which only four were settled. However, the Mumbai City Civil Court heard 523 cases.

In order to provide speedy justice to litigants, the Mumbai District Suburban Legal Services Authority (MDLSA) had recently announced establishment of permanent Lok Adalat for Mumbai. The Lok Adalat will settle pending and pre-litigation civil disputes relating to public utility services and even criminal cases of compoundable offence, including those related to the Domestic Violence Act and operates from the MDLSA office in Bandra.

“‘Award of permanent Lok Adalat has to be regarded as final. It cannot be questioned in original suit as it is equivalent to the decree of a civil court. It is executable but not appealable. It can be executed through the courts and can only be challenged before the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution only when totally arbitrary and unreasonable order is passed” said, Ajay V Gujarathi , Secretary, MDLSA.

Disputes related to passengers, goods, air, road or water transport services, post and telegraph or telephone services, supply of water, electricity by an establishment, public conservancy or sanitation, hospital, dispensary services and insurance, wherein the value of dispute is below Rs 25 lakh, will be settled by way of conciliation. Any party to the dispute can file application before permanent Lok Adalat and pay the required court fees.

The permanent Lok Adalat will initially try to resolve dispute through conciliation. If the parties fail to arrive at an amicable settlement, the permanent Lok Adalat will adjudicate the matter on merits. No party can invoke jurisdiction of any court in the same dispute after an application is made to the permanent Lok Adalat.

“More than three crore cases are pending in different Indian courts. In early 2008, there were 4,25,000 cases pending in different Mumbai courts under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881. After these cases were brought in Lok Adalats, the pendency has come down to 95,000. Alternative dispute resolution is a good medium to settle cases. After the success of Maha Lok Adalat in Maharashtra, the concept was adopted at the national level by the National Legal Services Authority,” added Gujarathi.

Since financial year 2000-2001, 33,037 Lok Adalats in all categories have been held across Maharashtra where 18,0,2072 cases have been settled till September 3013. 38,1268 pre-litigation matters have been settled between financial year 2005-2006 and September 2013.