The presiding members of Lok Adalats must ensure that litigants are not "intimidated" or "misled" to give their consent to the decisions as they are final and cannot be appealed against, Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam said.
Terming Lok Adalats as an effective mode of settling disputes, the CJI said they provide an "approachable" forum to the poor, weaker and less-informed sections and should not be allowed to be used by "unscrupulous parties to commit fraud, forgery".
The CJI was inaugurating the National Lok Adalat at the Supreme Court in which nearly 39 lakh cases would be taken up today across the country including the apex court, high courts and the district courts.
For sustaining faith in the system, "it is obligatory for every presiding member to make sincere efforts in bringing about a conciliated settlement in every case put before it without causing any kind of coercion, threat, undue influence, allurement or misrepresentation either directly or indirectly," he said.
"Since the award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute and there lies no appeal to any court against the award, the presiding members owe an implied obligation to ensure that the parties fully understand the terms of settlement," he said.
The National Lok Adalats can be held every year across the country, the CJI said, adding "all District and Taluk Court are computerised and interconnected for effective administration."
Justice G S Singvi, who also spoke on the occasion, noted
that Lok Adalats and mediation are the "most powerful
instruments" for delivery speedy justice.
"As a lawyer and a judge of different high courts and this court (apex court), I have found the Lok Adalat and mediation as one of the most powerful instruments for speedy justice which finds place as the first world in the preamble of the constitution," he said.
"I am sure that Lok Adalat, which is being held today and which my colleague will organise in future, will definitely bring permanent relief to the litigating public and others," Justice Singvi, who is also the executive chairman of National Legal Services Authority, said.
The National Lok Adalat, held in courts across the country, will deal with nearly 39 lakhs cases including accident claims, criminal, cheque bounce and Bank recovery cases.
"Highest number of cases are listed for settlement in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra 7,97,484 and 5,66,102 respectively whereas in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West