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A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO LOK-ADALAT

Section: A

Category: Research Paper

Paper Code: RP-DS-14

Page Number: 30 - 49

Date of Publication: February 10, 2021

Citation: Dr. Dhiraj Bhusan Sarmah & Dr. Plabita Saikia, A Critical Appraisal of the Legal Service Authorities Act with Special Reference to Lok Adalat, 1 AIJACLA, 30, 30-49, (2021).

Details Of Author(s):

Dr. Dhiraj Bhusan Sarmah, Former Faculty of Law, University Law College, Gauhati University

&

Dr. Plabita Saikia, Advocate, Gauhati High Court


Abstract In pursuance of the Constitutional provision laid down under Article 39-A and the suggestions of the Central Government’s Committees, the Central Government of India enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. The prime object of this enactment is to give statutory recognition to legal aid programs in India, while its primary purpose is to secure justice to the neglected sections of the society, in particular, the poor, downtrodden, socially backward, women, children, etc. Apart from the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), three more tiers namely, State Legal Services Authority, District Legal Services Authority, and Taluk Legal Services Authority have also been constituted under the said Act. Another major task within the purview of this Act is to organize Lok–Adalat for amicable settlement of disputes. Under the said Act, the award made by the Lok-Adalat is final and bounding to all concerned parties. An attempt has been made to analyze the importance of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. A brief analysis of the functioning of Lok-Adalat is also a subject matter of this paper. KEYWORDS Constitutional provision, enacted, statutory recognition, downtrodden, Lok-Adalat


INTRODUCTION Regardless of whatever laws are enacted for the benefit of the poor and disadvantaged, they simply remain as meaningless and inanimate words, which only adorn the shelves of law libraries of eminent legal luminaries, so long, as the people, for whom the laws are intended, are incapable of enforcing them.[1] Without the knowledge of the laws and the means to enforce their rights, the intended benefits of the developmental process are unlikely to trickle down to the beneficiaries, particularly so, in a welfare state, where the plethora of beneficial legislation on the statute books is increasing daily.[2] A statutory body named as Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes was appointed by the Central Government of India on 26th September 1980. Legal aid programs were implemented by this committee all over the country, under the Chairmanship of Justice P.N.Bhagawati, till the enactment of the Legal Services Authorities Act in 1987.[3] In 1987 the Government of India constituted the Legal Services Authorities Act. It was established to give a statutory base to legal aid schemes all over the territory of India on a homogeneous pattern. A vital role was played by Hon. Mr. Justice R.N. Mishra (the then Chief Justice of India) for enforcement of the Act.[4] The main aim behind the establishment of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 is to put into operation the mandate of the constitutional provisions enshrined under Article 14 and Article 39-A of the Constitution of India. A countrywide set-up has been envisaged under the Act for providing free legal aid and support to the needy sections of the society. National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) is the apex body that is created to lay down certain policies and principles for making legal services available under the provisions of the Act and to frame the most effective and economical schemes for legal services.[5] A State Legal Services Authority is instituted in every state to give effect to the directives of the Central Authority i.e. NLSA and it also provides legal services to the poverty-stricken or underprivileged people of the state. [6] In every district, the District Legal Services Authority is constituted to implement legal aid programs and schemes in the district.[7] Taluk Legal Services Committees are established as well for each Taluk or Mandal or for a group of Taluks or Mandals to coordinate the activities of legal services in the Taluk and to organize Lok-Adalats.[8]

About the Legal Services Authorities act By the Constitutional provision provided under Article 39-A and the suggestions of the Central Government’s Committees, the Indian Government passed the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Effective economical Schemes have been framed by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 which provides different policies, principles, and guidelines for implementing legal services programs throughout the country.[9] For providing legal services efficiently, apart from NALSA, Legal Services Authorities Act has constituted three more tiers namely, State Legal Services Authority, District Legal Services Authority, and Taluk Legal Services Authority.[10] As per Section 4(1) of the LSA Act, the LSAs are to function as agencies that spread awareness, in particular, among the poorer sections of the society. NALSA also provides for strategic legal aid by spreading legal awareness programs and educating villagers about their rights provided by the Indian Constitution and the statutory laws. The said programs adopted by NALSA are enumerated below - · encourage in promoting legal literacy, · building up of legal aid clinics in legal educational institutions, · training of para-legal volunteers, · organizing legal aid camps, · organizing Lok-Adalats, · spreading awareness, · accomplishment of legal aid schemes in India and · monitoring legal aid programs all over India. NALSA has laid down a pivotal role to emphasize legal literacy as well as legal awareness campaigns in the country.

Motto of the Legal Services Authorities act Free Legal aid is essential for the administration of Justice. As per the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, Legal Services Authorities have been constituted for securing justice to all irrespective of any financial or other disabilities under the Act, and to achieve this objective Lok- Adalat has been constituted.[11] With the slogan “Access to Justice for All”, the Legal Services Authorities have the capability of reforming the present environment in India, which consists of poor and the weaker sections that are discriminated against and denied their rights. Thus, one of the objectives of this enactment is to secure access to justice for all through the traditional process of Lok-Adalat.

Vision, Object, and Importance of the Legal Services Authorities act LSA Act targets the non-denial of justice due to economic reasons or other disabilities. The motive of the LSA Act is to provide legal awareness, free legal aid, and the constitution of Lok-Adalats.[12] The LSA Act fulfills the objectives of Article 39-A of the Constitution of India which was inserted in Part IV of the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment of 1976. The object of the Legal Services Authorities Act is hereunder[13] – · To establish Legal Services Authorities at various levels. · To deliver free, open, and competent Legal Services to the downtrodden sections of the society and · To organize Lok-Adalat. It is to be noticed that the legal service should be interpreted as meaning the delivering of any help in the direct of a case or legitimate continuing under the watchful eye of any court or authority or council and broadening exhortation on a lawful matter of issue.[14] It could be through giving counsel at the State costs. It might likewise be through making installment of court-expense for the benefit of the people who are qualified for lawful guide. It might likewise be through paying different costs associated with the case, costs corresponding to the arrangement of reports or calling of the observers, and so on.[15] To give direction to the Lok-Adalat, our parliament established the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987. This Act provided for organizing Lok-Adalat at different levels, intervals, and places. Since there was no legal framework regarding the establishment, composition, jurisdiction, procedure, for the Lok-Adalats, people did not take them seriously.[16] After the passing of the LSA Act, it was held that Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or every High Court Legal Services Committee, every State Legal Services Authority or every District Legal Services Authority or every Taluk Legal Services Committee may organize Lok-Adalat. [17] In Sugreev vs. Sushila[18], the court has observed that “the Legal Services Authorities Act has been passed by the government to offer free and proficient legal services to the weaker sections of the society and to ensure that the opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen based on economic or other disabilities”. NASA's Quinquennial Vision Documents of 2010 speaks of the following types of Lok-Adalat- · Lok-Adalat (Pre-litigation Dispute), · Permanent Lok-Adalat, · Continuous Lok-Adalat and · Mobile Lok-Adalat.

Structure of the Legal Services Authorities act Based on commissions' and committees' recommendations, the Government of India enacted the legal service Authorities Act, 1987 under Article 39A. This law is just in the facilitation of the goal and the guideline identified in Article 39-A of the Constitution of India, which mulls over the state to make sure about the activity of an overall set of laws and advancing equity on the essential of equivalent chance, and specifically, giving free lawful guide, by appropriate enactments and plans to guarantee that the open doors for making sure about equity isn't denied to any resident.[19] A countrywide system has been envisaged under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 for providing legal aid and assistance to the needy section of the society.[20] The structural patterns of various Legal Service Authorities and the Committees and their respective functions have been provided by Sections 3 to 11-B contained in Chapters II and III of the Act. Chapter VI of the Act gives recognition and status to the institution of Lok-Adalats. According to Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, the National Legal Services Authority is created by the Central Government. National Legal Services Authority, the apex body, is established to lay down certain policies and guidelines for making legal service available under the provisions of the Act and to frame economic schemes and policies for legal services in the most effective way.[21] It also disburses funds to State Legal Services Authorities and different NGOs at national, state, and district levels for implementing legal aid programs and provisions.[22] As per the provisions of this Act in every state, State Legal Services Authority is established to give effect to the policies and directions of the Central Authority (NALSA), to provide legal services to the needy section of the society, and to conduct Lok-Adalat in the State.[23] Section 9 of the LSA Act pertains to the formation of the District Legal Services Authority for every District in the State by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court to implement Legal Aid Schemes in the District.[24] Section 11-A enjoins the constitution by the State Authority of Taluka Legal Services Committees at each Taluk or for a group of Taluks or Mandalas, and deals with its composition and employees, etc.[25]

Fig 1.1 The structure as prescribed under the Act


Important Provisions of the Legal Services Authorities act[26] After The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 came into force, the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes (CILAS) has ceased to exist and matters relating to legal aid are being now governed by the Act.[27] Chapter IV of the Act contemplates the criteria as well as entitlement to Legal Services. Section12 and Section 13 deal with the criteria for giving legal services and entitlement to legal services respectively. [28] In recent times, in proportion to the escalation of the population, the filing rate of cases has also been rapidly increasing, which causes grave concern to the Administration of Justice and it also gets portrayed as a prime challenge to the Indian judiciary. In this regard, it is presumed that Lok -Adalat under Chapter V, which has been specified under Sections 19 to 22of the Act, are the enabling sections for rendering a helping hand to the courts to reduce the burden of the courts.[29]

NATIONAL LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY NALSA has been established under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to monitor and evaluate the running of legal aid programs and to lay down the governing guiding principles and strategies for making legal services accessible to all under the Act. The NALSA was instituted on 5th December, 1995. As per Section 3(1) under the Chapter II of the afore-mentioned Act[30], the Indian Government has the responsibility to establish a legal body at the National level known as the National Legal Services Authority to exercise powers and functions conferred to it by the Act. Section 3 gives power to the Central Government to constitute the National Legal Services Authority consisting of the Chief – Justice of India as the Patron -in – Chief, a serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court as executive chairman, and other members, possessing experience and qualifications as may be prescribed and nominated by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India.[31]

LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 3 Section 3 of the Legal Services Authorities Act provides for the constitution of the National Legal Services Authority. However, a keen glance at the organizational structure of the body reveals that all of the members are already overloaded with assigned duties of the principal job and as such, as light modification of the Section 3 is the need of the hour. While constituting the National Legal Services Authority, the government should emphasize recruiting young legal professionals who are not holding another legal post so that they can devote more time to achieve the object of the Act.

SUPREME COURT LEGAL SERVICES COMMITTEE The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee was established to implement the legal services schemes so far as it is related to the Supreme Court of India[32]. The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee[33] consists of not more than 9 members. The Committee consists of – · A sitting judge of the Supreme Court as Chairman and · Other Members who act as Ex-Officio Member.[34]

LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 3-A Section 3-A of the Legal Services Authorities Act provides that the Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee is to be a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, who is already overburdened with his entrusted works of day to day litigations. If such an over-burdened person is again entrusted with functions of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, there is every possibility that the office will not achieve expected results in providing legal service. As such, an amendment of this section is the need of the hour for the proper implementation of the Section 3-A.

STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITY Sections 6 envisage the constitution of a body by the State Government called the Legal Services Authority for the State to perform the functions assigned to a State Authority under the Act. It consists[35] of - · The Chief Justice of the High Court as the Patron-in-Chief · A serving or retired judge of the High Court as the Executive Chairman · Any other Members. LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 6 Section 6 of the Legal Services Authorities Act provides for the constitution of the State Legal Services Authority. However, a keen look at the organizational structure of the body reveals that all of the members are to a certain extent occupied with duties external to the body, and as such a minor modification of the Section 6 is an urgent requirement. While constituting the State Legal Services Authority, the government should emphasize recruiting young legal professionals who are aspiring to work in the field by full devotion to reach the cardinal objective of the Act. In Supreme Court Bar Association vs. Union of India and Others[36], it was held that under State Legal Services Authority, the normal rule should be that a sitting judge is to be appointed as the Chairman and only on exceptional circumstances a retired Judge is to be appointed.

THE DISTRICT LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES As per Section 9, the State Government is to establish a body, after discussion with the Chief Justice of the High Court, to be called the District Legal Services Authority for every District. It consists[37] of - · The District Judge as a Chairman; and · Such other members possessing such qualifications and experience as may be prescribed and nominated by that Government.

LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 9 Section 9 of the Legal Services Authorities Act provides that the Chairman of the DLSA is to be a District Judge who is already overloaded with his entrusted works of day to day litigations. If such an over-burdened officer is again entrusted with functions of DLSA, there is every possibility that the office will not achieve the expected results of providing legal service. As such, an amendment of the Section 9 is required to achieve the objectives of the Act.

TALUK LEGAL SERVICES COMMITTEE Section 11-A enjoins the institution of a Taluk Legal Services Committee by the State Authority at each Taluk or for a group of Taluks or Mandals and deals with its composition, and employees, etc. The Committee consists of – · A Senior-most Judicial Officer as ex-officer Chairman. · Such other members possessing such qualifications and experience as may be prescribed and nominated by the State Government.[38] LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 11-A However, a keen look at the organizational structure of the body reveals that all of the members are occupied with duties external to the body, and as such minor alteration of the amendment of Section 11-A is the need of the hour for the proper implementation of the Section 11-A.

LIMITATIONS OF LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES ACT In addition to this organization of the 4-tier Legal Services Authorities, the Government should also establish an independent body to monitor the working of these tiers and actively works to make co-ordination among the Taluka, District, State, and National Legal Services Authority. While constituting the monitoring body, the government should emphasize recruiting young legal professionals who are not holding another judicial post so that they would be working solely in the interests of the independent monitoring body. The Legal Services Authority creates a network of legal services institution at the Central, State, District and Taluk levels. However, the institutional model of legal service delivery intended by the Legal Services Authority has its limitations[39]- ·The manner of their constitutions, ·The structure, ·The funding, ·The functioning of the legal aid institutions involves a pervasive control by the executive, · Co-operation of the judiciary for a collaborative venture, · The lack of autonomy of the legal aid institutions and · Policies and practices of the State that may result in a violation of Fundamental Rights including the right to access justice.

Co-ordination The Act also provides for coordinating the working of Central, State, District and Taluk Authorities.

FIG 1.2 COORDINATION OF WORKING OF DIFFERENT AGENCIES


The functions of the authority are controlled and guided by the one above it, i.e. Central Authority controls the State Authority[40] and obviously through it, the District Authority; whereas the State Authority shall delegate functions to the District Authority.[41]

Furthermore, the Central Authority has made appropriate allocation of funds to the State and District Authorities.[42]


FUNCTIONS of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee

Section 5 of The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Regulation, 1996 relates to powers and functions of the committee. The Committee shall implement and monitor the legal services program, receive and examine applications for legal services, maintain panels of advocates decide all matters relating to the payment of remuneration, and prepare and submit returns. The Chairman has been provided with all the residuary powers of the committee[43]


FUNCTIONS OF THE HIGH COURT LEGAL SERVICES COMMITTEE

Section 8-A instructs the State Authority to set up a body called the High Court Legal Services Committee.

The State Authority shall institute a High Court Legal Services Committee for every High Court to exert such powers and meet such objectives as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.


ENTITLEMENT to Legal Services

Under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 different groups of people like women, persons with disabilities, certain disadvantaged classes of people, and those from low-income groups are entitled to access free legal services.

Based on an application made by the applicant, according to the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act, a lawyer is assigned to provide legal aid[44]

However, the publicly-funded legal aid services organized under the said Act, granting free legal aid services to the middle-class people, but among them, most of the rural and marginalized people are largely left out.

Curiously, the 1973 Report of the Expert Committee on Legal Aid gave accentuation on Processual Justice to the People and suggested for the authorization of the Legal Services Authorities. It likewise discussed the pointlessness of the court-driven litigative guide to poor people and the underestimated segments and suggested elective techniques stressing on legitimate strengthening.[45]

NALSA provides for free legal aid to the persons covered by Section 12 of the Legal Services Authorities Act and includes various categories of persons.[46]

Women and children, members of ST and SC, industrial workmen, disabled persons should be entitled to the provision of free legal aid as they represent the poorer and weaker sections of the society and cannot afford the services of lawyers for the conduct of a case.

On the other hand, victims of mass disasters, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disasters, persons in custody and victims of human trafficking, and people going through dire conditions and as such, need free legal assistance for getting justice.


LIMITATIONS OF SECTIONS 12 AND 13

Sections 12 and 13 provide free legal services to those enlisted under Section 12. Persons avail legal services subject to the means test. The income limit is prescribed as a means test. The income limit should be increased at a reasonable level.

Victims of man-made disasters; riots, communal riots, accidents etc. are people who become helpless. Legal services can play an effective role in resolving disputes.

Legal Services Authorities Act provides for legal aid to disabled persons. There is no provision of lift, ramp, or disable friendly tools in the government office. Therefore, disabled persons are not able to avail those benefits.

Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has made a stride for giving legal aid to the helpless free of cost yet at a sensible for average income classes of people. As per this scheme, people having to pay up to Rs.10, 000/ - every month or Rs.1, 20,000/ - per annum are qualified for legal aid. Under the Chairmanship of a sitting appointed authority of the Supreme Court, a society was framed as Legal Aid Society. For average income groups, a board of advocates on record is accessible. An individual will connect with a legal counselor from the said board and pay the recommended legal advisors' expenses just as court charges which are truly sensible, reasonable, and self-upheld.

Simply just because an individual who isn't falling in the classification of poor persons based on pay models under Section 12 of the Legal Aid Act and important guidelines outlined under it, isn't suspended to get his issue alluded to Lok-Adalat under Section 20 of the Act. The disentitlement of individuals to get free legitimate assistance has no concerns with taking up the issue in the Lok-Adalat.[47]

The status of children and women itself is adequate to give them legal aid independent of their pay and monetary position. On the off chance that such children and women approach the Legal Aid Authority or Committee, at that point they should be given such guide without experiencing the inquiry, what is their monetary position and if they can draw in their supporters, or can hold up under the costs of prosecution or not.[48]

It isn't just the obligation of the court to implement law or ensure the privileges of the residents yet additionally to make them mindful of their privileges. For this situation, bearings were likewise given by the High Court that on the notification/summons given to the disputants qualified for free legal aid, it must be referenced in obvious form utilizing vernacular language so that such class of prosecutors may know this right. This being put on the top in the notification or summon and the advocate representing up in the interest of such class of prosecutors should give declaration alongside his vakalatnama; and subsequently, when they approach each other, it makes prosecutors mindful that they are entitled for free legal aid.[49]

In the wake of making the person in question mindful of their legitimate right under the Legal Services Authorities Act, and, after it all said and done, if the defendant doesn't want to get the free lawful assistance, the Advocate concerned necessities to specify it and carry it to the notification of the Court concerned as a formal statement of his own or the litigant concerned, to be encased to the request, suit, application, amendment and allure and so on by and large, which is introduced in the Court. The Court, on the most readily accessible open door should learn from the prosecutor concerned whether the individual is covetous of taking the free legitimate administrations or not, regardless of whether the person wants to get the advantages or not, and on the off chance that the disputant wants for the equivalent, at that point, the individual might be coordinated to move toward the concerned Legal Services Committee or the Authority. Where the disputant of this classification as listed under Section 12 of the Act isn't covetous to benefit of his/her this legitimate right, the court may continue in the issue. The court may need to record this fact in the procedures.

Regardless of whether such qualified individual qualified for free legal aid under Section 12 of the Legal Aid Act has documented a case through his/her advocate, the court can exclude such individual to pay any essential court expenses.[50]


LOK- Adalat[51]

Chapter VI deals with Lok-Adalat exclusively. Section 19 lays down that “Lok -Adalat are to be organized by the State or District Authorities at such intervals as deemed to be necessary”.[52] Lok-Adalat is one of the prime modes amongst the Alternative Disputes Resolution Mechanisms to settle disputes amicably. The Lok-Adalat has been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. Under this Act, an award made by a Lok-Adalat is final and binding on all parties and no appeal normally lies against thereto before any court.

Organization of Lok-Adalats has been provided under Section 19(1) of the Legal Services Authorities Act.[53] Under the Act, the Legal Services Committee of Supreme Court, the Legal Services Committee of the High Court, the State Legal Services Authority, the District Legal Services Authority, and the Legal Services Committee of the Taluk have been entrusted the duty to organize the Lok-Adalats all over India.

Sub-section 2 of the Section deals with the composition of Lok-Adalat. Those occupying the position in Lok-Adalats are experienced high-level judicial officers in service or retired and one or two persons of eminence in the locality.[54]


POWERS of Lok- Adalat[55]

All proceedings before a Lok Adalat or Permanent Lok Adalat shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of the Indian Penal Code”.[56] To hold any determination under this Act, The Lok-Adalat shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908).[57]

It is very disappointing to say that suits of –

· Partition,

· Partnership,

· Contract,

· Land disputes etc. are never seriously considered to be placed in Lok-Adalat.

The 2002 amendment to Section 89 of CPC as per which the court may reformulate the terms of settlement and allude the equivalent to Arbitration, Conciliation and Judicial Settlement including settlement through Lok - Adalats and Mediation. This forces the court to invest genuine efforts toward ADR.


DRAWBACKS OF LOK-ADALAT

The significant trouble in the current plan of association of the Lok-Adalats under Chapter VI of the said Act is that the arrangement of Lok-Adalats is founded on compromise or settlement between the parties. In this manner, the achievement of Lok Adalat relies on the ability of the parties.

A non-compromising temper if demonstrated by even one among the parties will deliver the whole cycle purposeless.

Regardless of whether all the individuals from the Lok-Adalat are of the assessment that the case is a fit one for settlement, under the current set-up, they can't choose except if all the parties give their assent. On the off chance that the parties don't show up at any compromise or settlement, the case is either gotten back to the courtroom or the parties are forced to look for solutions in a courtroom. This causes superfluous postponement in the administration of justice.

Normally, for settlement of criminal cases in Lok-Adalat, the Court concerned sends notice to the concerned parties to appear before the Lok-Adalat on a specified date and time. If a party is absent before such Lok-Adalat without any step, the Lok-Adalat authority does not take any action against the absentee. Such a situation degrades the value of Lok-Adalat in the minds of common people.

In fixing the date of Lok-Adalat, the court does not take the consent of concerned parties to the case which is to be sent to Lok-Adalat for settlement. If on the date so fixed, one party does not appear before the Lok-Adalat, it makes only wastage of time of other parties. Thus, prior consent of parties is extremely necessary before fixing a date for Lok-Adalat.


The salient features of the amendment

The aim of the Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act 2002 is to encourage pre-litigation conciliation and settlement and to establish Permanent Lok-Adalat.

The salient features of the Amendment are as follows-

· It provides for the constitution of Permanent Lok-Adalat.

· Permanent Lok-Adalat consists of a Chairman, and two other persons having prescribed qualifications.

· The Permanent Lok-Adalat deals with in respect of public utility services.

· Maximum Rs.10,00,000/- will be the pecuniary limit of the Permanent Lok-Adalat for the trial of a case.

· The Central Government may increase the limit of pecuniary amount for the jurisdiction of Permanent Lok-Adalat from time to time.

· The Permanent Lok-Adalats can’t entertain any case in respect of any matter relating to an offense not compoundable under any law.

· The Party may also make an application before the Permanent Lok-Adalat before the dispute is brought before any court for settlement.

· If there are elements of mutual settlement, it will draft the possible settlement agreement and will submit the same to the parties for their observations.

· If the parties agree with the draft settlement agreement, the permanent Lok-Adalat can pass an award in terms thereof.

· If the parties fail to come to a mutual settlement agreement, the Permanent Lok Adalat will decide the matter on the merits of each case.

· Award of the Permanent Lok-Adalat is final and binding on the parties.


PERMANENT LOK- ADALAT

The Legal Services Authorities Act initially did not establish Lok Adalat. However, by the Amendment Act of 2002, Permanent Lok-Adalat was established for the first time with a chairman and two members to carry out a pre-litigation mechanism for conciliation and settlement of dispute of public utility services.

The fundamental features of the both are same. However, certain modifications have been made from the former.[58]

Section 22 B of the Amendment Act of 2002 considers the establishment of PLA at numerous places with consideration towards the cases and on public utility services.[59]

The jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok-Adalat might be summoned by any party to a contest at the pre-suit stage by making an application to the Permanent Lok-Adalat for the settlement of the question. When the jurisdiction of the Permanent Lok-Adalat hosts has been conjured, the parties are blocked from taking the cause of action to procedures under the custody of an official courtroom.[60] The PLA is not bound by CPC or IPC while deciding any matters before it but shall take into consideration the principles of natural justice.

Thus, some Lok-Adalats are authorized to go beyond arranging settlements to “decide a dispute on merit.” and they are given broad discretion to do this according to their general notions of justice.[61]

The Indian Bar Council has been incredulous of 22D especially for permitting Lok-Adalats to administer now on the merits of cases without the understanding of the parties. Further, numerous Indian attorneys stress that an inquirer looking for equity in the normal state courts may wind up having his case moved without the agreement to a Lok-Adalat (through Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Also, once in the Lok-Adalat, the case subterranean insect may then have a judgment "on legitimacy" gave against him, which under Section 22E of the Legal Service Authority Act would be "conclusive and blinding" with no allure.

Also, the protestors filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate section 22D. In a short but confusing judgment, the Court dismissed the petition and upheld the amendments as free of any constitutional infirmity.[62]

In Life Insurance Corporation of India v. Suresh Kumar[63], the Supreme Court observed that “Permanent Lok-Adalat has no jurisdiction or authority vested in it to decide any case, as such, between the parties even where the attempt to arrive at an agreed settlement between the parties has failed.”

In any case, again the court, all things considered, was managing and alluding to a Lok-Adalat coordinated under Section 19 of the Act. 'Continuous Lok-Adalats' coordinated under Section 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 are once in a while inexactly portrayed as 'Permanent Lok-Adalats' and ought not be mistaken for Permanent Lok-Adalats established under Section 22B(1) of the Act[64].


LIMITATIONS OF SECTION 22- B

Section 22-B of the Legal Services Authorities Amendment Act of 2002 provides that the Chairman of the PLA is to be a District Judge who is already entrusted with works of day to day litigations. If such an over-burdened person is again entrusted with functions of PLA, there is every possibility that the office will not achieve the expected results of providing legal service. As such, an amendment of the Section 22 B is the need of the hour.


CONCLUSION

In a developing country like India where the majority of the population is the vulnerable groups, here a win-win phenomenon will be more advantageous. The Legal Services Authorities Act will give strength to deprived groups to win the run of justice. It must also work to strengthen our pluralistic Democratic values, Rule of Law and thereby secure justice to all.

However, to enable the citizens to avail the opportunities to secure access to justice under the Act, they must be made aware of their rights recognized under the Act.

A customary glance of the present scenario in India reveals that the Government has enacted several laws for the benefit of every section of the society irrespective of their caste, creed, and financial status, but upon closer inspection, a different picture is seen altogether. The poor and marginalized sections of society are mostly unaware of the said laws due to which they are not able to realize the benefits provided by these laws. As such, the Government should take adequate steps for the proper implementation of these Acts, especially the Legal Services Authorities Act, by which the desired benefits can be accessed by the vulnerable sections of the society.

[1] Lawyers Collective, The Right to Legal Aid,1(11-12), 5, (November-Decembrer 1986). [2] Id. [3] Needs Assessment Study of Selected Legal Services Authorities, Department of Justice, Government of India and UNDP India 2012, Chapter II, Para I. [4] Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (No. 39 of 1987), (Oct. 2020, 14, 07:33 PM.), https://maitri.mahaonline.gov.in/pdf/The_Legal_Services_Authority_Act,_1987.pdf . [5] Richa Kachhwaha, Access to Legal Aid in India: An unfulfilled promise?, Live Law.in, (Oct. 2020, 15, 02:30 PM), https://www.livelaw.in/access-legal-aid-india-unfulfilled-promise/. [6] Supra note 4. [7] Supra note 5. [8] Id. [9] National Legal Services Authority, (Oct. 2020, 14, 03:34 PM), http://doj.gov.in/sites/default/files/BRIEF-NALSA_0_3.pdf. [10] Rural reporter, (Oct. 2020, 14, 05:30 PM), ruralreporter.blogspot.com. [11] R. Swaroop, Law Relating to Legal Aid and LokAdalat, 47, (1st edn. Wordsworth Publications, Bangalore. 2003). [12] Supra note 2. [13] Id. [14] The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (No. 39 of 1987) (Oct. 2020, 20, 08:00 PM), lawgupshup.com. [15] Kailash Rai,Public Interest Lawyering, Legal Aid and Para-Legal Services , 201 ,(7th edn., Central Law Publication, 2012). [16] ND, 6(4), The Official Journal of NALSA, 89-90 (October 2005). [17] Id. [18] Sugreev v. Sushila AIR 2003 Raj 149, In Karnataka High Court, the court has observed that the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 has been promulgated to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok –Adalats. [19] Supra note 10. [20] Supra note 3. [21] Commonwealth Legal Information Institute, (Oct. 2020, 20, 01:12 PM), www.commonlii.org. [22] Id. [23] Id. [24] Id. [25] Supra note 10. [26] Supra note 2. [27] Institute of Developing Economies Japan External Trade Organization, IDE-JETRO, (Nov. 2020, 01, 02:00 PM), www.ide.go.jp. [28] Id. [29] Justice T.Mathivanan , Legal Aid Issues, Challenges and Solutions – An Empirical Study, (Oct. 2020, 21, 07:27 PM), www.hcmadras.tn.nic.in. [30] Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (No. 39 of 1987). [31] Supra note 10. [32] Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (N0 39 of 1987). [33] Id. [34] The following are the Ex-Officio Members of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee – · Attorney General of India · Additional Secretary in the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, Government of India or his nominee. · Additional Secretary in the Department of Expenditure , the Ministry of Finance, Government of India or his nominee and · Registrar General of the Supreme Court of India and nominated members. [35] Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 (No. 39 of 1987). [36] Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India and Others. [37] Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 (No. 39 of 1987). [38] Sec. 11-A Sub Clause (2). [39] S.Muralidhar, Law, Poverty and Legal Aid, Criminal Justice, 378, (Lexis Nexis, Butter Worths 2004). [40] Sec. 7 (1). [41] Sec. 10(1). [42] Sec. 40(c). [43] Regulation 6 of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Regulation 1996. [44] Ibid. [45] Ibid. [46] Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, Sec. 12 - The different categories of Persons include- a Scheduled Caste; or a Scheduled Tribe; or a victim of trafficking in human; or a women; or a child; or a person with mental illness; or otherwise a disabled person; ora victim of a mass disaster, or a n ethnic violence, ora caste atrocity, ora victim of a flood, ora victim of a drought, ora victim of a earthquake, ora victim of industrial disaster; oran industrial workman; or in custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of Clause (g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (104 of 1956); or in a Juvenile home within the meaning of clause (j) of Section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (53 of 1986); or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning of Clause (g) of Section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987 (14 of 1987)[46];or in receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court (Substituted by Act No. 59 of 1994), (Nov. 2020, 21, 09:00 PM), jhalsa.org. [47] Ahmed Pasha v. C. GulnazJabeen AIR 2001 Karnataka 412. [48] Aman Kumar Lalitbhai Parekh v. PritibenAman Kumar Parekh 2000 (2) F. J. C. C. 356 (Guj), Women being weaker section of the society are entitled to free legal aid. When a woman approaches the court, the first and foremost stand of the court is to inform her that she is entitled for free legal aid and when she prays for the same, court is bound to expeditiously deal with the application and provide free legal aid to her or send the application to appropriate authority. [49] Ashok Kumar KantilalRathodBhavanaben vs. Ashok Kumar Rathod 2001 (2) R.C.R. (Civil) 47 (Guj). [50] Anar Devi v. Chandra Devi AIR 2005 Rajasthan 270. [51] Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 Sec. 19-20. [52] Swaroop,P.,LawRealating to Legal Aid and Lok Adalat, 123, (Wordsworth Publiaction). [53] Legal Services Authorities Act, Sec. 19(1). [54] Every Lok-Adalat organized for an area shall consist of such number of- a) serving or retired judicial officers; and b) other persons, of the area as may be specified by the State Authority or the District Authority or the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee or the High Court Legal Services Committee,or as the case may be, the Taluk Legal Services Committee,organizingsuch Lok-Adalat. [55] Sec. 22. [56] Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, Sec 22(3). [57] Such powers shall be while trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely, · The summoning the attendance of parties; · The discovery and production of any document; · The reception of evidence on affidavits; · The requisitioning of any public record or document or copy of such record or document or copy of such record or document from any court or office, and · Such other matters as may be prescribed. [58] Id. -The key difference is that a typical Lok-Adalat can only be summoned occasionally and not on a daily basis, a permanent Lok-Adalat is an established system which is operational throughout just like any other court or tribunal. [59] Permanent Lok-Adalat is presided over by a chairperson, who-is a district judge, or is an additional district judge, or is an judicial office higher in rank than that of a judge of the district court. Along with the chairperson, the government also appoints two other persons who are experienced in the area of public utility service. The state authority or the central authority appoints this person, depending on the case, after a nomination by the respective government has been made. [60] Alternative dispute resolution mechanism: a case study of Delhi, Kulsrestha, Saurabh, Shodhganga, (Nov. 2020, 18,0 4:33 PM), http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/26666/9/09_chapter%203.pdf. [61] The new Sec. 22D formula, justice, objectivity, fair play, equity and other principles of justice (again reminiscent of the justice, equity, and good conscience formula,) differs significantly from the formula embedded in Section 20(4) of the Legal Services Authority Act which specifies that the Lok-Adalat should pursue a compromise or settlement between the parties and in doing so shall be guided by legal principles and the principles of justice, equity, and fair play. [62] Pandey v. Union of India, Writ Petition 543/2002 -The Court went on to state that the amendments to the LSAA, including section 22D, would take effect once Permanent Lok-Adalat were set up at an early date, (Oct. 2020, 19, 09:00 PM), combatlaw.org. [63] 2011 (4) SCALE 137. [64] Inter Globe Aviation Ltd. v. N. Satchidanand, (2011) 7 SCC 463.

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VINEETA SHARMA V. RAKESH SHARMA

Section: D Category: Case Commentary Paper Code: CC-NC-01 Page Number: 458 - 460 Date of Publication: February 10, 2021 Citation: Namrata Chakrabarty, Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, 1, AIJACLA, 458

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