In a first for Assam, a well-known transgender activist from the state was appointed as a conciliator — a position equivalent to a member judge — in a Lok Adalat. She will hear her first case on Saturday. The appointment of 27-year-old Swati Bidhan Baruah follows similar appointments of Joyita Mondal in West Bengal last year and Vidya Kamble in Maharashtra this year. Baruah will be on a bench presided over by a retired district and sessions judge and will hear cases in the Lok Adalat — a platform for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The conciliator’s position in a Lok Adalat is generally given to advocates, social workers or mediators and the motto of the ADR is amicable or voluntary settlement of disputes, which may be over a range of topics.
Baruah said that the appointment comes with huge responsibility. “I am happy that the judiciary has trusted me after seeing my commitment and work for the community. I will do my best to provide justice and try to not keep cases pending,” Baruah said. Baruah was in the news in 2012, after the Bombay High Court allowed her to undergo a sex-change operation, despite opposition from her parents.