It is time for innovation in Lok Adalat system, says Chief Justice Oka

‘Important to extend the scope of Lok Adalat to settle commercial disputes’

It is time for innovation and development of new ideas to take forward the system of Lok Adalat, a successful tool for alternative dispute resolution process, said Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka, on Saturday.

He said it was time that the litigants in motor vehicle accident claim cases were told about the settlement facility available through Lok Adalat at the stage of filing of claim petition before the tribunals. He was participating in the inaugural ceremony of the day-long Statewide Mega Lok Adalat organised by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA).

The Chief Justice said that even the petitions filed in the civil courts for higher compensation in land acquisition cases need not wait for several years till the cases reach the stage of framing of issues as these cases could be referred to the Lok Adalat at the initial stage itself. The cases in which either the litigants or the insurance companies show no interest for settlement should be taken up immediately for hearing for final decision on claims, he said. It is also important to extend the scope of Lok Adalat to settle commercial disputes in the commercial courts by taking assistance of experts such as chartered accountants and others, he added.

A.J. Sadashiva, a retired judge of the High Court and the first executive chairperson of KSLSA, who inaugurated the Mega Lok Adalat, emphasised that the KSLSA should give priority to educating people, particularly women, on their rights and liabilities in law. He recalled the legal awareness programmes conducted during late 1990s in the State.

Justice Aravind Kumar, a judge of the High Court and executive chairperson of KSLSA, said that Karnataka has been successful in amicably resolving a large number of cases through Mega Lok Adalats because of a well-set SOP involving stakeholders in judiciary and the public authorities, and getting through to the litigants through various modes, including the media, advocates, and paralegal volunteers.

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