Role Of Lok Adalats In Promoting Access To Justice

Rishi Pandey

9 Jun 2023 6:38 AM GMT

  • Role Of Lok Adalats In Promoting Access To Justice
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    Cases drag on for prolonged periods of time because of the long queue and backlog of pending cases that have clogged the Court System. In this situation, the classical phrase ‘Justice deferred is justice undone’ applies. As a result, the idea of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) was developed.

    ADR seeks to offer people with alternate methods of pursuing justice, like the title itself implies. Under Section 89 of the ‘Code of Civil Procedure’ (CPC), some methods of dispute resolution that fall outside of the Court System are recognised. The alternative processes of Arbitration, Lok Adalat, Mediation, and Conciliation are covered under this Section. The use of ADR intends to offer a highly individualised and adaptable way of recourse, serving the purpose of quickly reaching a settlement.

    Lok Adalats: Basis and Objectives

    Lok Adalat actually means ‘People’s Court’ in Hindi. In Indian history, using ADR to resolve conflicts has a long and turbulent past. Throughout the beginning of human history, individuals have believed that disputes may be resolved among themselves without litigating them in court. Panchayats were constantly asked to decide issues that came up in the community as they occurred. The Panchayat representatives then applied the concepts of discussion, mediation, and justice to encourage the offended sides to reach a settlement and a mutual understanding. As a result, it may be claimed that at the most basic levels, ADR has been used in India for centuries.

    The idea of Lok Adalat was developed in accordance with the ‘Gram Swaraj’ ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, and it seeks to advance and implement ‘Article 39A’ of the Indian Constitution, which strives to provide everyone with fair treatment and affordable legal representation. The “Legal Services Authority Act, 1987” was passed in order to fulfil the purpose of Article 39A, and it granted a formal standing to Lok Adalats. The numerous aspects regulating Lok Adalats are covered in ‘Chapter VI’ of the Act.[1]

    Promoting Access to Justice:

    The responsibility to guarantee that everyone has a legal avenue for remedy, regardless of their socioeconomic standing, and that everyone should be treated with equality and fairness within the legal framework, could be regarded as ‘access to justice’. In essence, the ability to reach the court facilities and present one’s case can be referred to as an opportunity to obtain justice.

    Following their creation in 1982, Lok Adalats have served as the means by which the underprivileged have means to acquire justice in our tumultuous nation, where more than 3.3 crore cases (according to 2018 estimates) remain outstanding. A significant method for reducing the burden of the judiciary, the functioning of the Lok Adalats catalysed and produced the resolution of over 50 lakh matters in 2017 alone. Since Lok Adalats typically settle 4,000 cases per day, it is clear that having them in place is essential for addressing the huge court backlog.

    The following are some strategies that Lok Adalats use to enhance justice accessibility:

    1. Informal and Friendly: Lok Adalats are available to regular people because of their basic and amicable operation. The procedures are performed in the local dialect as well as the judges are typically former judicial office-bearers or other knowledgeable individuals.

    2. Quick Settlement of Conflicts: Lok Adalats are renowned for their quick s of disagreements. They save both the litigants’ resources and time by resolving disputes in only one session which otherwise would have taken several years to settle in the traditional court-setup.

    3. Economical: In Lok Adalats, parties are not obligated to shell out any court costs or other expenses. It thus makes it a financially sensible choice for solving issues.

    4. No Appeal: The Lok Adalat’s judgements are permanent and bind the stakeholders. The absence of an appeal process guarantees that disagreements are settled fast and firmly.

    5. Broad Domain: Lok Adalats are competent to handle civil and compoundable matters and possess a broad authority. They can settle disagreements through arbitration, conciliation, or mediation as well.

    6. Encourages Collaborative Efforts: Lok Adalats stimulate popular opinion and push the opposing parties to come to an amicable agreement. This contributes to preserving societal unity and tranquility.

    7. Selectable Ability to Participate: Parties may opt out of Lok Adalats at any moment because participation is entirely voluntary. This guarantees that the litigants will not be coerced into accepting an agreement.

    Lok Adalats over the Years: Other Advantages

    Throughout the years, Lok Adalats have been a significant force for transformation in both the Indian legal framework and the wider community. Lok Adalats have not just lightened the load on the judiciary, but they have additionally made it simple for all individuals to seek justice, regardless of their economic situation. With the advent of Lok Adalats, pursuing justice has changed from being a privilege to being a basic human right.[2]

    The advantages of Lok Adalats extend beyond their effectiveness. The fact that people who can manage to cover court and attorney costs on a long-term basis often have access to conventional litigation in court system, which is one of its fundamental drawbacks. Lok Adalats have entirely clarified such issue since they provide justice unaccompanied by levy of any costs on the litigants. In truth, Section 16 of the ‘Court Fees Act, 1870’ provides a return of the initially paid court costs in the event that a matter is moved from a Courtroom to a Lok Adalat and the latter is authorized and empowered to grant an award.

    As a result of offering an informal, quick, and economical method of settling conflicts, Lok Adalats are essential in fostering the availability of justice. They assist in alleviating the load of unsolved cases in normal courts by providing a workable substitute for the established judicial system. In Lok Adalat, disagreements are not just handled peacefully, but additionally the goodwill between the litigants is preserved. As a result, it is an extremely beneficial method of resolving disputes. Lok Adalats are vital for achieving impartial and fair opportunities to secure justice, which is at the core of the Indian Constitution.

    1. Mehrotra, N. (2021) Lok Adalat: A Catalyst for change in the Indian Judicial Structure, Articles. Manupatra. Available at: (Accessed: March 11, 2023).

    2. Bhatia, Y. and Talwar, D. (2020) Access to Justice: Through Lok Adalat Issues and Challenges, International Journal of Law Management & Humanities. Available at: (Accessed: March 11, 2023).

    Rishi Pandey is a third year law student pursuing B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) from Hidayatullah National Law University. Views are personal

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