The idea of Lok Adalat has been initiated by the exChief Justice of India, Mr. P.N. Bhagwati. The courts have been set up in all the states. These are presided over by retired judges, lawyers or even eminent social workers.
Working and Achievement
The parties settle their civil disputes, compensation claims and compoundable criminal cases through conciliation. Once an agreement is reached between the parties, it is registered in a court of law and thus, the decision of the Lok Adalat acquires legal sanction. The Lok Akalats have disposed of many long-pending cases. The disposal is not only speedier but also cheaper. Majority of the cases relate to cases of motor vehicle accidents in which the insurance companies find it worthwhile to arrive at out-of-court settlements.
Social litigation cases relating to divorce, separation and family feuds have also been settled.
Each State has its High Court except that
(a) Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have their common High Court of Assam at Gauhati;
(b) Haryana has a common (at Chandigarh) with Punjab; and (c) Goa is under Bombay High Court.
- The High Court of a State consists of a Chief Justice and such other judges as the President may appoint from time to time (Article 216).
- The strength of the various High Courts is not the same.
- The Chief Justice of the High Court is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and Governor of the State concerned.
- In the a ppointment of the other judges t he Chief Justice of the High Court is also consulted by the President (Article 217).
- Additional judges may also be appointed for a period not exceeding two years to dispose of pending work (Article 224).
- To be eligible for appointment as a judge of a High Court a person must
- be a citizen of India;
- have held a judicial office for at least ten years; or
- have been an advocate of a High Court for at least 10 years (Article 217).
- The judges of the High Court hold office until they attain the age of 62 years.
- They may resign earlier by writing to the President.
- A judge of the High Court may be removed by the President on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
- The mode of removal of a judge of a High Court is the same as that of a judge of the Supreme Court.
- The office of a judge may be vacated also on his being appointed a judge of the Supreme Court or on being transferred or any other High Court by the President (Article 217).
- The Chief Justice of a High Court gets Rs. 9,000 per month while a judge gets the monthly salary of Rs 8,000 besides pension, allowances, etc. as Parliament may determine.
- The independence of the judges of the High Courts is sought to be maintained by the following provisions:
- By making the process of removing a judge of the High Court difficult.
- By providing that the expenditure in respect of the salaries and allowances of the judges shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of the State, and by specifying that the salaries etc. shall not be, varied by Parliament to their disadvantage after their appointment (except under Financial Emergency).
- By laying down that after retirement a permanent judge of the High Court shall not plead or act in a court in India, except the Supreme Court or a High Court other than the one in which he has held office.
- To High Court exercises supervision over all courts and tribunals within its jurisdiction (exceptions being those set up by law and relating to the armed forces).
- The High Court can take steps to ensure that the lower courts discharge their duties within the bounds of their authority.
- It can withdraw a case pending before a subordinate court and may itself dispose of the case, or determine the question of law involved in the case and return the case, together with its judgement on the issue, to the said court for disposal in conformity with its judgement.
- The High Court can also transfer cases from open lower court to another lower court for disposal (Articles 227 and 228).
- Under Articles 226, the High Court can issue writs for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
- Besides, it can issue writs even in cases where an ordinary legal right has been infringed, provided a writ is a proper remedy in such cases.
- In this sense the writ jurisdiction of the High Court is larger than that of the Supreme Court whose writ jurisdiction extends to enforcement of Fundamental Rights alone.
- Every high Court is a court of record and has all the powers of such a court, including the power to punish for its contempt (Article 215).
- It is the highest court of appeal in the State in both civil and criminal cases.
- It also hears cases relating to matrimonial matters and the admiralty.
- The High Court is consulted by the Governor in appointment, posting and promotion of district judges;
- It is consulted alongwith the State Public Service Commission, by the Governor, in appointing persons to the judicial service of the State.
- As regards the subjects of legislation, a threefold distribution of legislative powers between Union and States envisaged and listed in Schedule VII.