Context: In the period of turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Legal Services Authorities creatively adapted to the new normal and moved Lok Adalat to the virtual platform.

Performance of the E-Lok Adalats

  • Settlements: From June, 2020 to October 2020, 27 E-Lok Adalats have been organized in 15 States.
    • 4.83 lakh cases were taken up by these and 2.51 lakh cases disposed of resulting in settlement of Rs 1409 cr.  

Background of E-Lok Adalats:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way in which the Legal Services Institutions function. 
  • Objective: To facilitate access to justice amidst the pandemic and various public health guidelines, the Legal Services Authorities have ingeniously integrated technology into its conventional methods of justice delivery. 
  • Benefits
    • E -Lok Adalat is one such innovation of Legal Services Institutions where technology has been used to its maximum advantage and has become a platform to deliver justice at the doorstep of people.  
    • E- Lok Adalats are also considered cost effective as it eliminates the need for organisational expenses.

About NALSA:

  • It has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free legal services to weaker sections of society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes .
  • The aim is to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reasons of economic or other disabilities.
  • Disposal of cases: 
    • Cases are disposed on the basis of amicable settlement without any expense on the part of litigants. 
    • It is an expeditious method of bringing litigating parties on the same side and saving them from the rigours of trial under an adversarial system of adjudication which is generally perceived to be time consuming, complex and costly. 
    • Lok Adalats are also instrumental in reducing the burden on arrears of the court disposal of long pending litigation between the parties.
  • Nyaya Deep is the official newsletter of NALSA.
  • Mission Access Justice to All: A Vision 2020 document issued by NALSA.
  • Composition:
    • As per section 3(2) of Legal Service Authorities Act, the Chief Justice of India shall be the Patron-in-Chief.
    • Second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court of India is the Executive-Chairman,  to be nominated by the President, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
  • The NALSA Act also proposes, in every State, a State Legal Services Authority and in every High Court, a High Court Legal Services Committee have been constituted.
  • District Legal Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees have been constituted in the Districts and most of the Taluks to provide free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State.
  • Persons eligible for getting free legal services include
    • Women and children
    • Members of SC/ST
    • Industrial workmen
    • Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster.
    • Disabled persons.
    • Persons in custody
    • Persons whose annual income does not exceed Rs. 1 lakh (in the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee the limit is Rs. 5,00,000/-).
    • Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings or beggars.

Constitutional Provisions for providing free legal aid:

  • Article 21 of Indian constitution, the right to free legal aid or free legal service is a fundamental right.
  • Article 39A of constitution, added through 42nd Amendment Act (along with articles 39, 43A, 48A), provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society and ensures justice for all.

Image Source: TOI