Lok Adalats clear over 12 lakh cases in one day

Lok Adalats were set up across the country on February 10 in an attempt to clear up the severe backlog of cases - over three crore at last count - in the courts. We take a look at an oft overlooked mechanism that offers a fast and hassle-free form of dispute resolution

February 19, 2018 09:15 am | Updated February 20, 2018 09:00 am IST - New Delhi

Getting justice: People fill out forms and talk to judicial officers at a Lok Adalat

Getting justice: People fill out forms and talk to judicial officers at a Lok Adalat

India’s legal machinery swung into action on February 10 to clear of over 12 lakh cases during a day-long session of Lok Adalats organised across the country. This is only a fraction of pending cases – over three crore at last count – but represents a significant step in clearing the massive backlog.

Currently, the 24 High Courts in India have a collective backlog of 41,88,530 cases, out of which over 80% have been pending for more than two years. The lower judiciary has a backlog of 2,64,38,962 cases.

The Supreme Court had 55,259 cases pending, as on November 01 last year.

Collectively, they take the backlog figures to 3,06,82,571.

Around since the 80s

The little known alternative dispute resolution mechanism – Lok Adalat has been around since the 1980s, but never caught the imagination of the public who usually throng to courts to settle disputes.

This is set to change. The National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) has been making efforts to make people aware of the benefits of Lok Adalats – that of an easy, fast and hassle free form of dispute resolution.

Lok Adalats encourage parties to settle cases outside the formal court system. Generally, cases where parties can reach an amicable settlement, including bounced cheque and bank recovery cases, civil suits, motor accident claims, service matters, family matters and traffic challan cases are taken up by the Lok Adalats.

Lok adalat graphic

Lok adalat graphic


On February 10, a total of 7,847 benches of Lok Adalats were organised by NALSA, state legal services authorities and district legal services authorities. The benches took up over 48 lakh cases leading to settlement amount of ₹23,43,99,59,173.

A total of 29,65,583 pre-litigation cases were taken up out of which 6,57,505 cases were disposed off. Another 18,90,889 cases already pending before the court were taken up leading to closure of 5,43,661 cases.

U.P. leads the way

At the Lok Adalats, 6,40,456 cases were settled in Uttar Pradesh, the highest in all States, followed by Maharashtra, which settled 1,47,051 cases.

In Delhi, 12,576 cases was cleared by the Lok Adalats organised in all the district courts in the Capital. This includes 165 cases of Motor Accident Claims Tribunals (MACT) cases. The total settlement amount was ₹9.13 crore.

A Lok Adalat functions like a well-oiled machine. Cases, which usually take years to come to their final outcome, are settled in a matter of minutes.

Legal work done in advance

This was possible as many similar cases were bunched together and much of the legal work was done in advance said Chanderjit Singh, secretary of Delhi Legal Service Authority.

Mr. Singh said that all possible methods are adopted to make people aware about the event. This includes electronic displays, advertisements, banners, and continuous legal literacy programmes in the community.

A Lok Adalat usually has a bench of two people – a sitting judicial officer or retired judge and an advocate form a panel of legal service authority or people from the society. “Last time we had a transgender and an acid attack victim who were brought in as members of a bench,” Mr. Singh said.

“Lok Adalats are not held at a dais. The judges sit next to the people. This is an effort to reach out to the public and make them feel familiar to the system,” he added.

No judicial role

Since the bench members do not have any judicial role, they can only persuade the parties to come to a conclusion for settling the dispute outside the court.

The Lok Adalats do not decide the matter referred to it, instead cases are decided on the basis of the compromise or settlement between the parties.

During the Lok Adalat organised at Patiala House Courts complex in Delhi, most litigants looked visibly happy over the outcome of their cases, but some were seen requesting that there cases be sent back to the courts.

Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under the Act, the award reached by the Lok Adalat is deemed to be an order of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court.

The parties and their advocates who want their pending matters to be referred to a Lok Adalat may either make a request to the concerned court or, with consent of opposite party, approach the office of a legal services authority.

There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat. If a matter pending in the court is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the petition is also refunded back to the parties.

If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the lok adalat they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the concerned court.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.