In a move that will come as a big relief to the people with complaints against public utility services,a Permanent Lok Adalat will be inaugurated at the Shivajinagar Court on Monday. The decision was taken following the huge response the Lok Adalats conducted at the district courts evoked in the last few years.
On October 31,the Bombay High Court gave its nod to set
up such permanent pre-litigation benches in four districts of
the state. These courts will come up in Pune,Mumbai,Aurangabad and Nagpur.
R K Malabade,member secretary of the Pune District Legal Services Authority (DLSA),said the new initiative would be a part of the Alternate Dispute Redressal (ADR) system of the Indian judiciary. The PLA will be set up under Section 22A and 22B of the Legal Services Authority Act 1987. The PLAs would only hear pre-litigation disputes where parties will not even require to hire lawyers as they can appear in person. However,those wishing to employ a lawyer are free to do that.
Malabade said the bench would hear cases related to public utility services including transport,postal,telegraph,telephone and pension services; power and water supply; system of public conservancy or sanitation; services in hospitals or dispensaries or insurance.
Headed by a retired district judge,the Permanent Lok Adalat in Pune will have two other noted mediators. It will be inaugurated by Principal District Judge Anant Badar. Pune Bar Association president Rajendra Umap will be present on the occasion.
Any aggrieved citizen can approach a PLA. Once we get the application,the bench will issue a notice to the opposite party. When both parties are present the terms of settlements will be discussed. If both the parties agree for a settlement then the matter will be settled with conciliation. If the bench fails to arrive at a settlement through mediation,both the parties will be asked to submit the necessary documents. The bench will then award an order based on the merits of the case,which will be binding on all parties and deemed to be a decree of a civil court, explained Malabade.
When the Central government made the amendment in the Legal Services Authorities Act,1987 to accommodate the PLAs,it had been vehemently opposed by the Bar Council of India (BCI),which had even challenged the decision in the Supreme Court. The BCI had termed the amendments as unconstitutional but the SC bench turned down its contentions after a lengthy battle that continued for nearly a decade.
The SC bench rejected the BCIs case saying the PLAs were in the interest of people.