Lok Adalats is a system of alternative dispute resolution developed in India. Lok Adalat means ‘People’s court’. India has had a long history of resolving disputes through the mediation of village heads.
- Under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987, Lok Adalats have been given a statuary status. The aims of Lok Adalats are secure justice to the weaker sections and Mass disposal of the cases to minimize cost and delay. The Legal Services Act provides for Lok Adalats to be organized by the State or district authorities.
- The jurisdiction of the Lok Adalats is conferred on them by the State or the district bodies.
- The jurisdiction of the Lok Adalats is wide. Any matter falling within the jurisdiction of civil, criminal, revenue courts or tribunals. A case goes to the Lok Adalat if the two parties make a joint application to compromise.
- The award of the Lok Adalat is binding upon all the parties. Lok Adalats, is the sum, are given the powers of the civil courts. They are important as an alternative mode of dispute resolution.
- The Supreme Court of India and High Courts have held them from time to time and disposed of thousands of cases. On October 2, 1996 (birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi), a nationwide programme was launched to dispose of one million cases through them. More than 2.5 lakh cases are pending in all courts in the country.