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Real Justice Needed For The Helpless - Bombay High Court Roots For Lok Adalats To Clear Huge Backlog Of Railway Claims And Appeals

Sharmeen Hakim
25 Dec 2021 1:53 PM GMT
Real Justice Needed For The Helpless - Bombay High Court Roots For Lok Adalats To Clear Huge Backlog Of Railway Claims And Appeals
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The Bombay High Court has sought constitution of Lok Adalats across various zones of the Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT) to clear the huge pendency of cases before those tribunals with a view that "Justice in real sense is imparted to helpless and hapless litigants."While passing the order on December 23, Justice Prithviraj Chavan, observed, "It is of common knowledge that most of...

The Bombay High Court has sought constitution of Lok Adalats across various zones of the Railway Claims Tribunal (RCT) to clear the huge pendency of cases before those tribunals with a view that "Justice in real sense is imparted to helpless and hapless litigants."

While passing the order on December 23, Justice Prithviraj Chavan, observed, "It is of common knowledge that most of the victims/deaths in the railway accident are mainly from socially disadvantageous strata of the society having economically weak background."
The court also observed that in order to achieve the object of securing justice "which appears to have been denied to the socially and economically disadvantageous elements of the society, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 came to be enacted by the Parliament."
As per the data made available to the Court, the total number of cases pending before various RCTs was 26,395 as on September 30, 2020. Number of appeals pending before the High Court across various stages stood at 577, with the oldest one having filed in the year 1995 – over 25 years back.
The observations were made after the court was apprised of the details of the pendency mentioned above.
The issue was mentioned before Justice Chavan by Advocate G J Mohan Rao, President of the Railway Claims Tribunal Bar Association, Mumbai. Rao submitted that "it was expedient to hold periodical Lok Adalats so that substantial number of appeals can be disposed of and justice in real sense can be imparted to the litigants" and requested the Court to issue appropriate directions to the concerned Legal Services Authority.
Balasaheb Deshmukh, another lawyer who mainly practices before RCT, Mumbai, brought to the notice of the Court a communication dated November 16, 2020 by Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) to Principal Chief Commercial Managers, All India Railways on the subject of claims cases to be settled through National Lok Adalats.
As per that communication highlighted high pendency of claim cases before the RCTs in spite of best efforts by RCTs. The communication also mentioned how Railway was incurring huge expenditure in the form of interest due to long pendency of claim cases and that that was a loss to the Railway exchequer which can be avoided through expeditious disposal of claim cases.
The communication also mentioned that the Railway Board in a letter dated March 3, 3018, which was in response to letters from RCTs, had issued instructions to all the concerned officials of Zonal Railways explaining the category of cases which can be disposed through Lok Adalat. "Following this, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Gorakhpur Benches were able to dispose of cases through Lok Adalats. However, not all the Zonal Railways pursued the matter with force and the subject did not receive the amount of attention which was needed to make this entire exercise successful on a large scale," the communication further stated.
It adds that the Chairman of the Railway Claims Tribunal, Justice K S Ahluwalia, desired that Lok Adalats be organised as early as possible to dispose of cases that can be decided through that mechanism to reduce pendency. A three Member Committee was constituted for the purpose of laying down guidelines and the Report of the Committee had been accepted by the RCT Chairman RCT.
"Having taken into consideration, the aforementioned facts and looking to the pendency of appeals in this Court, Registrar (Judicial) is directed to place this order before the Honb'le Executive Chairman Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority, Mumbai for necessary directions in that regard," Justice Chavan directed after taking note of all the details brought before the court.

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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