The simultaneous functioning of Lok Adalats in a people-friendly atmosphere was televised live through web casting,a facility provided by the apex courts e-committee headed by Justice Madan B Lokur. A whopping 39 lakh cases were put up for settlement in a friendly atmosphere of Lok Adalat without the overbearing presence of court staff or the incomprehensible legalese. The litigants discussed among themselves and when they agreed for a settlement, in 35.1 lakh cases, it was recorded by a judicial officer bringing an end to disputes. Appeals are not against settlements recorded under Lok Adalats.
How are Lok Adalats different from the courts Answering the self-posed question,Justice A K Patnaik, who also heads the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, said an accident victim after moving at a snails pace through a clogged pathway in three-tier justice delivery system gets compensation years later. But the Lok Adalats would provide immediate relief,which is more useful to a victim than the money he receives years later and realizes that inflation has significantly devalued the quantum of compensation,he said.
CJI Sathasivam said the Lok Adalats, like courts, would strictly adhere to principles of natural justice and record a just settlement without diluting the cardinal adage justice should not only be done but seen to have been done .He said in Delhi alone, Lok Adalats on Saturday would try settle nearly three lakh cases,of which 2.73 pertained to traffic violations. Justice Singhvi said he hoped that as many as 20 lakh cases would end in settlement bringing cheers to litigants. But, actual disposal exceeded expectations when it touched 35 lakh. This would give a fillip to Lok Adalats as a people-driven concept. This should be popularized to make justice affordable, he said.
However, the Supreme Courts Lok Adalat referral and disposals were a miniscule. On Saturday, three Lok Adalats in apex court will hear 107 cases. In the six editions of Lok Adalats held in Supreme Court between 2008 and 2010, 451 cases were referred and only 180 had been settled. Justices Singhvi and Patnaik explained why litigants were unwilling to settle the case after it had reached the Supreme Court. They said once the litigant spends a lot of money and time fighting his case in the trial court and the High Court,he felt that he would endure a little more time in the apex court to get a favourable verdict.
R S Gujaral,secretary in Department of expenditure in finance ministry, said we need to ascertain more areas for settlement than the accident claims, cheque bouncing cases, traffic challans and family disputes. He said, it appears the government and its agencies were little reluctant to avail of Lok Adalats.