New Delhi: The already over-burdened judiciary has been aided by the alternate dispute redressal mechanism of Lok Adalats which have decided 8.25 crore pre- litigation and pending cases in over 15.14 sittings in the last two decades, senior Supreme Court judge T S Thakur said on Monday.
Justice Thakur, the Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) who would succeed Chief Justice H L Dattu, said Lok Adalats have been effective and have "relieved judiciary of a huge burden of trial, appeals and revisional proceedings and resultant delays in the disposal of these matters" as their decisions are final and binding.
"To sum up, since January to September this year, more than 1.28 lakh Lok Adalats have been organised in the country and more than 57 lakh cases, including those pending in courts and those at pre-litigation stage, have been settled.
"It is also pertinent to mention that as on 30th September, a total of more than 15.14 lakh Lok Adalats have been organised in the country and 8.25 crore cases, including cases pending in the courts as well as those in the pre- litigation stage, have been settled in these Lok Adalats," he said in his address on Legal Services Day and Commendation Ceremony, also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Highlighting the benefits of the NALSA Act, Justice Thakur said it gave support to the poor people fighting the mighty state, which is the key litigant against whom 80 per cent matters were filed.
"We know the state is the biggest litigant in the judicial system of this country. Eighty per cent of the litigation is against the state. Against the mighty state against whom the litigant has to fight his case, poorer sections of the society find themselves isolated.
"It was in that spirit of ensuring access to justice to such sections pitted against the state becomes a reality, Parliament has made such a programme. That will continue to be so. No system, no polity, no society can survive where you don't not ensure justice...," he said.
Justice Thakur also sought the support of public broadcasters, All India Radio and Delhi Doordarshan, and urged the Prime Minister to ask them not to charge NALSA and the State Legal Services Authorities (SALSAs) in promoting legal awareness among the masses.Justice Thakur also said that Lok Adalats were also held
for revenue, MNREGA, land acquisition matters and over 7.32 lakh cases, involving a total amount of Rs 1,365.26 crore, were disposed of.
Another Supreme Court judge Justice A R Dave and Justice G Rohini, the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, also spoke at the occasion.
Justice Dave, who referred to the fact that two Gujaratis (him and the Prime Minister) were sitting at dais, highlighted the fact that first ever Lok Adalat was held at Junagarh in his native state.
He also lamented the fact that there was less number of judges and termed it one of the reasons for delayed justice.
"There are 15 judges per million people here, while in Canada, there are 75 judges per million and in the USA, you have over 100 judges per million," he said.
Later, PM Modi also dealt with it in his speech and said Lok Adaklats provide speedy, amicable and cheap justice.
Law Minister, in his address, lauded NALSA and SALSAs for their efforts and assured all kinds of help from the Centre and asked the judiciary to take steps to ensure quality of legal help provided to the poor people.
"We must find ways to encourage senior advocates to do legal services," he said.