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Access to Justice

May 14, 2024
close up photo of a wooden gavel
Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

National Lok Adalats have emerged as indispensable mechanisms for resolving disputes efficiently, swiftly and cost-effectively. These courts fulfill the constitutional commitment to provide access to justice to all segments of society. Organized under the auspices of the Jammu & Kashmir Legal Services Authority, these adalats are playing a key role in amicable settlements across a spectrum of cases, ranging from motor accidents to matrimonial disputes and criminal cases. The significance of expanding the reach of Lok Adalats cannot be overstated, as they represent a ray of hope for litigants seeking timely redressal and closure to their legal grievances. One of the key strengths of National Lok Adalats lies in their proactive approach to dispute resolution. Pre-lok adalat sittings and counseling sessions are conducted well in advance, providing litigants with ample opportunities to engage in dialogue with their opponents and explore mutually acceptable solutions. Through webinars and virtual meetings, stakeholders are sensitized to the importance of Lok Adalats and encouraged to avail themselves of this alternative dispute resolution mechanism. This proactive outreach not only enhances awareness but also fosters a culture of dialogue and consensus-building, laying the groundwork for successful dispute resolution. The recent 2nd National Lok Adalat in 2024 witnessed an impressive turnout, with a staggering number of cases being settled amicably across various categories. From motor accident claims to civil, criminal, and labor disputes, Lok Adalats have demonstrated their efficacy in addressing a diverse range of legal matters. The substantial settlement amounts involved underscore the tangible impact of Lok Adalats in alleviating the burden on the traditional judicial system and delivering timely justice to litigants. Amit Kumar Gupta, Member Secretary of the J&K Legal Services Authority, lauded the concerted efforts of judicial officers, advocates, and legal services institutions in facilitating the success of the National Lok Adalat. He emphasized the overwhelming participation of litigants as a testament to the growing demand for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Gupta’s call for stakeholders to capitalize on such initiatives reflects a recognition of the transformative potential of Lok Adalats in expediting case disposal and reducing the backlog of pending litigation. Now, the announcement of the 3rd National Lok Adalat in September 2024 signals a continued commitment to promoting access to justice. Litigants are encouraged to seize the opportunity to resolve their disputes through Lok Adalats, thereby contributing to the efficient functioning of the legal system. Additionally, the Supreme Court’s decision to convene a Special Lok Adalat underscores the judiciary’s commitment to expediting case disposal and facilitating amicable settlements. Gupta’s appeal to stakeholders to leverage this opportunity highlights the importance of proactive engagement in resolving legal disputes and upholding the principles of justice. National Lok Adalats stand as a fundamental pillar of the Indian legal framework, providing a forum for rapid, economical, and effective resolution of disputes. Through the collaboration of judicial bodies, legal experts and litigants, Lok Adalats hold promise in substantially alleviating the backlog of pending cases and advancing universal access to justice.

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