Bhubaneswar, May 28 (By Biswaranjan Mishra) The Lok Adalat, the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) channel, has been effectively aiding the justice dispensation system while free legal aid to the needy had come as a boon to the poor and weaker sections of society, Mr. Sashikanta Mishra, Member Secretary of the Odisha State Legal Services Authority (OSLSA), has said.The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, aimed to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of society and to organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes thereby lessening the burden on the courts, he said while delivering a talk on “Legal Aid for the People” on Voice of SOA Community, 90.4, the community radio operated by the SOA University.
The talk to be broadcast on Friday, May 29, also featured Mr. Biswajit Mohanty, Deputy Secretary, OSLSA and Mr. Soumyak Patra, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Cuttack. Ms. Sweta Mishra, Secretary, DLSA, Bhubaneswar was also present.
As the courts remained inaccessible to people owing to various factors including poverty, social and political backwardness, illiteracy, ignorance, procedural formalities and inordinate delay in judgments, the alternative justice dispensation method was thought of.
Any person from the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe background or women, children, people in jail awaiting trial, riot victims, people affected by natural calamities and mentally ill or disabled persons were among the different categories of people who can avail free legal aid through this system, Mr. Mishra said.
He said the Legal Services Authority was functioning at four levels in the state: OSLSA, the High Court Legal Services Committee, DLSA in all 30 districts and in the Taluks. Altogether 104 such units were in operation in Odisha at present. Mr. Mishra said that the Lok Adalat system had been highly effective with as many as 4,71,000 cases, including civil, criminal and revenue cases, getting successfully resolved on a single day in the state last December. However, criminal cases of serious nature could not be taken up at Lok Adalats as the trial in court had to take place, he said.
Around 5,000 trained para legal volunteers, including Anganwadi workers and retired school teachers, had been drafted to help resolve disputes at the grass root level, Mr. Mishra said.