Lok Adalat means People’s Court. It is a forum where disputes/cases pending in Court of Laws or at pre-litigative stages are settled/compromised amicably. In recent times, it has gained tremendous popularity as a mean of Alternative Disputes Resolutions (ADR). Any body can get his/her dispute referred to Lok Adalat for its settlement through mediation and conciliation.
Lok Adalat has been given the statutory status under the Legal Services Act, 1987. Under the Act, an Award made by a Lok Adalat is deemed to be a decree of a Civil Court and is final and binding on all the parties to the dispute, and no appeal lies to any Court against the Award. If any party after settlement of the disputes does not obey or implement the order/direction of the Lok Adalat within a month from the date of such order/direction, the party may approach the District Judge for implementation.
Lok Adalat has no jurisdiction in respect of any case or matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law. The parties do not have to pay court-fees nor do they have to engage any lawyer. Lok Adalat thus, provides easiest, speediest and cheapest method of settlement of disputes.
The following types of matters are being taken up by the Permanent and Continuous Lok Adalat constituted under section 19 of the Act.
a) Matrimonial/Family disputes
b) Criminal compoundable offence cases
c) Land Acquisition cases
d) Labour disputes
e) Works-men Compensation
f) Bank Recovery cases
g) Pension cases
h) Housing Board and Housing Finance cases
i) Consumer grievance cases
j) Electricity matters
k) Telephone bill disputes
l) Municipal matters including houses Tax cases
m) Disputes with Cellular Companies
The State Authority, the District Authorities, the High Court Legal Services Committee as well as the Sub-Divisional Committees may organize Lok Adalats at such interval and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it thinks fit as per provisions of section 19 of the Act.