Written by Anoushka Gahilot
The justice on wheels initiative, launched by the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority in 2010 to create legal literacy and settle cases, has gained momentum with double the number of cases undertaken in the past three years.
Last year, during its halt at the 10 talukas in Pune district, the justice on wheels — mobile vans accompanied by a team of retired judges and lawyers among others — heard a total of 2,076 cases, of which 1,803 were kept for further litigation and 273 decided and settled. This is almost double the number recorded in 2016, when a total of 1,050 cases were taken of which 849 were kept for further litigation in the general courts and 101 decided and settled.
Only cases solved through the “spirit of compromise” and “settlement” between the aggrieved parties are dealt with by the mobile vans. Those requiring higher expertise or legal knowledge are kept aside to be followed up at general courts of law.
In 2018, a number of cases pertaining to Women’s Rights, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Victim Compensation Scheme, Hindu Marriage Act and Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Act were also heard.
This year, the tour programme and legal literacy camp was inaugurated for Pune district on June 3 and will continue till June 29.
Calling it an excellent mechanism that takes the court to clients who are unable to reach it, C P Bhagwat, secretary of District Legal Services Authority, said: “The van moving within different talukas, bringing the law to the doorstep of the people… The easy availability of both the parties to a case and of competent legal personnel makes it easier for the settlement of cases at that instant itself.”
He said that along with the mobile lok adalats, specific dates and resource people are assigned for the conducting such legal literacy camps by the District Legal Services Authority at the halt points of the van.
They aim, Bhagwat said, to give out legal knowledge and information about the government schemes that further encourages the participation of people and appreciation of the law.
Advocate Swanand Dixit, who has been a part of the mobile legal justice team in Pune district, said the phrase ‘justice at your doorstep’ encapsulates the real essence of the scheme. “There is no doubt over an increase in the number of cases undertaken by the mobile lok adalats. The uneducated masses are realising the importance of the legal system and are hence bringing forth more issues and seeking justice.”
Expressing concern about the over-burdening of district and high courts, he said: “This system works towards reducing this burden. The minor and petty cases that can be resolved amicably at the grass-root level need not pile up on the regular courts and undergo the long drawn litigation process.” Advocate Swanand Dixit practises at Rajgurunagar court.
Another Pune district court advocate, who has been on the panel of the mobile lok adalat, said it was a less expensive mechanism of justice as compared to the long-drawn cases in courts.