MAKING LITIGANTS AWARE

Editorial GREATER JAMMU

While the Alternate Disputes Resolution has become the first choice for the litigants in the western developed world, at the same time it has failed to lure the litigants in India to the desired level. Though the holding of Lok Adalats in courts has become a regular feature across the nation resulting in amicable settlement and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to different categories, yet the progress in this regard is far from wanting especially in the newly formed Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. While appreciating the idea of promoting the concept of mutual settlements, it needs to be realized that there is a dire need to work harder on this front. The concept of Lok Adalats was introduced with the purpose of achieving multiple objectives. These serve very crucial functions in a country that is faced with huge pendency of over 3 crore cases in courts, illiteracy, besides non affordability of common masses on account of economical considerations, etc. In fact it was a historic necessity in a country like India where illiteracy dominates almost every aspect of governance. On the whole Lok Adalats play a very important role to advance and strengthen “equal access to justice”, which is akin heart of the Constitution and ultimately make it a reality. Since this programme being the most important part of ADR jurisprudence aimed at benefiting the common people at large especially those litigants who stand disturbed by the prolonged litigations both psychologically and economically, there is a need to evolve a strategy so that people feel encouraged to take full advantage of it. Only then it could be said that the Gandhian Principle of Gram Swaraj and “access to justice for all” have been achieved. In this regard the mission of the UT Legal Services Authorities to create awareness among the masses about their rights and how to take benefit of various people-friendly legal services needs to be followed at a greater pace and with full dedication. There is already a system under which Legal Services Authority has started legal clinics which provide justice at doorstep besides the appointment of para-legal volunteers who settle cases before coming to courts and provide their services especially during natural calamities. This system needs to be further streamlined especially by ensuring a proactive role of the para-legal volunteers who have the most vital role to play in making the Lok Adalats fully successful. Though normally Lok Adalats are organized almost every month in the Court premises but seeing the poor response of litigants it seems that much more is required to be done on this front so that more litigants get attracted to take benefit of this programme as a result of which even the frequency of holding such Lok Adalats would be required to be increased. In this regard those at the helm of affairs need to take cue from the western developed nations where Alternative Dispute Resolution has become the most preferred option for litigants. They must intensify their campaigns to spread massive awareness among the litigants about the ease and benefits of the ADR.