Alternative dispute redressal mechanism includes dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement without litigation. Following are the tools of ADR:
Arbitration: Arbitration is a process in which a neutral third party render a decision based on the merits of the case.
Mediation: The process of mediation aims to facilitate the development of a consensual solution by the disputing parties. Mediation is overseen by a non-partisan third party.
Conciliation: This is a process by which resolution of disputes is achieved by compromise or voluntary agreement. In contrast to arbitration, the conciliator does not render a binding award.
Indian judicial system is characterized by rampant delay in the disposition of the cases due to inadequate number of courts and judges in the country. High cost of litigation and complex legal procedure alienates the poor and uneducated from the judicial system.
Based on Gandhian principles Lok Adalat is Indian contribution to the world jurisprudence of ADR. Lok Adalats are a step towards fulfilling the directives under Article 39A for equal justice and free legal aid.
Advantages of the Lok Adalats:
- The Lok Adalats can ensure speedy justice as they can be conducted at suitable places and in local languages.
- Lok Adalat is the only institutionalized mechanism of dispute resolution in which parties do not have to bear any expenses and fee paid in a regular court is refunded if the case is settled in Lok Adalat.
- In Lok Adalats, disputes are not only settled but also the cordial relations between the parties are retained as disputes are resolved amicably.
- Disputes can be directly brought before the Lok Adalats and no appeals lies against the order of the Lok Adalats and thus it helps to alleviate the burden of arrears of cases.
The introduction of Lok Adalats succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the victims for satisfactory settlement of their disputes. This mechanism should be taken full advantage of and more number of Lok Adalats needs to be organized to achieve “access to justice for all”.