To reduce the pendency of cases in Courts, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), headed by Justice UU Lalit, its Executive Chairman, will hold Lok Adalats across the country today.

The Lok Adalats could not be held on Saturday in Odisha, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka due to circumstances arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lok Adalats in these states will be held in the coming weeks. This year, legal services authorities decided to organize four National Lok Adalats, among which two were organized in April and July, wherein over 31 Lakhs cases were disposed of, which included over 11.93 lakh pre-litigation cases and more than 19.97 Lakh pending cases.

During this National Lok Adalat, a vast category of criminal compoundable cases and civil cases have been referred to benches by State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) and District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) for amicable settlement and disposal. These include Negotiable Instruments Act cases under Section 138, bank recovery cases, MACT cases, labour dispute cases, electricity, and water bills, matrimonial disputes, land acquisition cases.

"In the wake of the pandemic, the National Lok Adalat will be organized through virtual and hybrid mode following the Covid protocols of respective states (and Union Territories). For the four states, where the Lok Adalat could not be held, for Odisha it will be held on September 19, Maharashtra and Goa on September 25, and Karnataka on September 30," said NALSA in a statement.

"NALSA Executive Chairman Justice Lalit has insisted on SLSAs to settle maximum number of cases with utmost efficiency. Justice Lalit has also stressed upon various strategies for successfully conducting the National Lok Adalat with the aim to achieve greater success," the statement added.

NALSA has issued various directions to SLSAs and High Court Legal Services Committees (HCLSCs) to follow for the National Lok Adalat. These include identifying a suitable number of cases wherein the element of settlement is prevalent and issuing notices to parties at the earliest through virtual e-services mode or physical mode for the National Lok Adalat.

As per the statement, "SLSAs and HCLSCs have also been asked to hold meetings with all stakeholders, including members of the Bar, representatives of insurance companies, representatives of banks and financial institutions. In order to have maximum settlement between the parties in cases like MACT, matrimonial, cheque bounce cases under NI Act, labour disputes, PUS, other civil cases, etc., it is advised to conduct pre-Lok Adalat sittings so that the parties may get one or more chances for entering into dialogue with opposite parties to get maximum number of settlements."

NALSA said that "in case parties arrive at a settlement through pre-Lok Adalat sittings and pre-counselling, then the settlement may be recorded at the same time. Direction has also been issued to observe COVID-19 protocols of states and union territories."

The last National Lok Adalat of this calendar year will be organized in December.

With PTI inputs