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Justice in minutes from SC Lok Adalat PDF Print E-mail
(1 Vote)
Written by Mail Today   

IN A DEPARTURE from the past, Supreme Court judges on Saturday, for the first time climbed down from the ‘ chair’ to help litigants enter a compromise, ending their lingering disputes.

Four judges of the apex court, conducting Lok Adalats, took up 45 cases pending before the Supreme Court on an experimental basis and achieved a major success.

Some victims received a “ good deal”. Victims in motor accident cases got a better bargain on humanitarian grounds. Other litigants were lucky enough to have judges as advisers in marital disputes. And the media had their share, too, with cameras being allowed inside courtrooms for the first time.

Justices Ashok Bhan and Aftab Alam helped an estranged couple — who had in the past filed four marital dispute cases — settle their disputes in a little over five minutes. The court pointed that four litigations meant an end to 20 cases which would include appeals and reappeals.

Bhan told the father, who was fighting for the custody of his infant son, to leave the animosity behind for the benefit of the child. “ He ( the child) will not be able to live with you in Bhopal. Take it from me. He will cry all along,” Bhan said.

“ Leave him with your in- laws in Ajmer if you love him. Act in his interest and not yours,” Alam said.

Bhan advised the father that he was not fighting for money or any material object. The father should be satisfied for his child’s sake and accept the right to meet him whenever he wanted.

“ Don’t behave as people do in the US. Let your child grow up to be a good citizen of this country,” Bhan added.

In another case, a girl who had been fighting for a motor accident claim for over 17 years got relief in less than two minutes. In 1991, an accident had disfigured the face of the girl, who was from Mappuram district of Kerala. She had sought Rs 5 lakh as compensation.

The tribunal and the high court had found that the demand was much more than what was provided for the injury, by the law.

The motor accident victim claimed the tribunal had merely awarded Rs 1.75 lakh and with legal constraints the HC could increase it only by Rs 70,000. Probably, the apex court also could not have done much if the case was decided on its merit.

The Adalat presided over by Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathasivam was moved when the girl’s lawyer presented both her past and present photographs. It made the judges convince the insurance company to pay a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh with an interest of 9 per cent from 1998.

The insurance company did not object as matters settled in Lok Adalats do not create a precedent.

In many cases, even though insurance companies have no objection to paying compensation on humanitarian grounds, they have to file an appeal because of legal constraints.

“ Several appeals are filed on the question of law and claimants in such cases become hapless victims,” a lawyer said.

Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, who sat with Justices Pasayat and Sathasivam for some time, said the new concept was to reduce pendency. He said, to begin with, 45 cases had been listed with the consent of the parties.

“ This may be a drop of water in the ocean, but this is just the beginning,” the chief justice said.

Pasayat said notices had been issued to parties in 60 more cases. They will be listed after both the parties agree for a settlement.



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