New Delhi: The second National Lok Adalat held across India Saturday involving the Supreme Court, 24 high courts, districts courts and taluka-level courts saw the settlement of a record number of 1.25 crore cases, that also resulted in reducing the pendency of cases by about nine percent.
"Approximately, 1.25 crore cases, as per details available so far, which include pending and pre-litigation cases, have been settled. The immediate impact of this has been in the reduction of pendency averaging about nine percent across all states," said the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), which organised the National Lok Adalat.
Election-bound Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand also participated in the countrywide exercise.
However, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa could not take part.
The Supreme Court saw the settlement of 28 of 53 cases put up for settlement before it. In some cases, cheques were handed out at the time of settlement itself.
The settlement across the country also saw citizens receiving over Rs.3,000 crore in aggregate, NALSA said, pointing to the financial implication of the exercise for the citizens.
The cases involved family disputes, matrimonial cases, motor accident claims, bank recoveries, petty criminal matters, revenue matters, disbursements under MNREGA and others involving welfare schemes.
Earlier Saturday morning, inaugurating the National Lok Adalat, Justice Anil R. Dave - chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Service Society, said out-of-court settlements of disputes through Lok Adalats was not just inexpensive and expeditious, it was a win-win situation for the contesting parties as there were no winners or losers.
In his counsel to the parties who had listed cases for settlement, Justice Dave said that for the success of Lok Adalats, the contesting parties should not only be large-hearted to accommodate each other but must also keep their egos in check.
He said the amicable settlement of disputes helps society at large as after the settlement, the parties nurture no grouse against each other and are ready to work together again.
Justice Dave wondered about the role of a third party in the settlement of dispute between husband and wife.
All that is needed is a catalyst like Lok Adalat to make them sit across the table and settle their differences in the spirit of accommodation, he said.
He said that in court, he has seen husband and wife who are in dispute do not even look at each other and their disapproval of each other is written on their faces.
Similarly, disputes involving business partners, when resolved mutually through Lok Adalats, leaves a scope that such people can once again come together for a new venture and all this helps the society, he said.
Justice Dave, who was witness to the first Lok Adalat held in India March 14, 1982 in Una city in Junagarh district of Gujarat, said Lok Adalats were the magnified version of gram panchayats that India traditionally had for the settlement of disputes by village elders.
He said Lok Adalat in its present form was a tribute to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice Thakkar who were present at the first Lok Adalat.
The Una Lok Adalat saw the settlement of 95 percent of more than 600 cases.
He said a judge cannot pronounce a 'please all' verdict, as there will be a winner and a loser in court. He said litigations are time consuming, expensive and retaliatory.
Justice Dave said settlement of a large number of cases by Lok Adalats reduces the burden of cases and judges get more time to deal with other cases.
NALSA secretary Asha Menon said that compared to the first national Lok Adalat, the ambit of the second Lok Adalat was enlarged to include revenue cases.
Menon sought to clarify that Lok Adalats were not a substitute for regular courts but a forum for settling cases that can be settled amicably and need not remain pending.