“Good response to Lok Adalats in Tamil Nadu”
It is the duty of judges to explore avenues of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) during the pendency of a case to facilitate out-of-court settlement in Motor Accident Claim Original Petition (MCOP) and other cases, said R. Banumathi, Judge of the Madras High Court.
She was inaugurating a Mega Lok Adalat organised by the Vellore District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) at the district court on the Integrated Courts Complex here on Saturday
Ms. Justice Banumathi said that ADR mechanism has been institutionalised through an amendment to Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure in 2002. The amendment makes it binding on the part of judges to explore avenues of ADR during the pendency of a case to bring about out-of-court settlement of cases at an early date in the interests of litigants.
There has been good response to Lok Adalats – one of the methods of ADR – conducted by DLSAs throughout Tamil Nadu in the last two years. Six hundred and twenty six cases were settled for Rs.6.07 crore, benefiting 1,082 people during the previous Lok Adalat conducted in Tirupattur. Ms. Justice Banumathi thanked insurance companies for their cooperation in the settlement of MCOP cases at the pre-litigation stage through the ADR mechanism. A total of 1,250 cases were taken up at the Lok Adalat on Saturday, for which eight benches were constituted. Retired judges conducted the Adalat and settled the cases.
She honoured retired judges who conducted the Adalat. Siva Pandian, Principal District and Sessions Judge and president of DLSA, welcomed the gathering.
S. Giridharan, Chief Manager, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, Vellore, said that about 60,000 MCOP cases were being registered in Tamil Nadu every year. Such a large number of cases could be settled expeditiously only through Lok Adalats. Compensation for which the family members of victims who died in accidents were eligible would be of help to them only if it was awarded within six months. He also stressed the need for reaching persons injured in road accidents to the hospital within the ‘golden hour’ (first one hour) to save their lives. MCOP cases were settled for Rs.1.60 crore by the insurance company, benefiting 110 persons in the Lok Adalat on Saturday.
Mr. Giridharan said insurance companies were paying compensation to accident victims or their families with the premium income received from the owners of the nearly 12 crore automobiles in India. Insurance companies had been allowed to increase the premium every year so that they can pay the compensation to victims and their families, he said.
S. Balaguru, Regional Manager, United India Insurance Company Limited, said the company was settling 400 MCOP cases at every Lok Adalat. The company settled MCOP cases for Rs.1.10 crore benefiting 182 persons in the Lok Adalat on Saturday. G. Karunanidhi, Sub-Judge and Secretary-in-charge of DLSA, proposed a vote of thanks.
Five hundred and one cases were settled for a total award of Rs.7.58 crores, benefiting 694 litigants during the Lok Adalat. The awards included Rs.40 lakh in a property partition case, compensation of Rs.15 lakh by an insurance company to the heir of Dhanasekar of Kazhinjur who died in an accident, and Rs.1.10 lakh to Natarajan who was injured in an accident, through direct negotiation with the opposite party. While Justice Ms. Banumathi presided over the Lok Adalat, Mr. Pandian, Senthil Kumaresan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Vellore, and Zakir Hussain, Additional District Judge, coordinated the exercise.