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alternative dispute redressal mechanisms in India | Indian Polity | General Studies II

 Table of Contents:

  • About alternative dispute redressal mechanisms in India
  • The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of India
  • Lok Adalat
  • Write a short note on the emergence and use of alternative dispute redressal mechanisms in India. ( UPPSC 2018)
  • "Lok Adalats have acted as a great catalyst for change in the Indian Legal System". Elucidate. ( UPPSC 2022)

Alternative Dispute Redressal Mechanism in India:

In India, several alternative redressal mechanisms exist to resolve disputes outside of traditional courts. Some of these mechanisms are as follows:

Mediation and Arbitration:

Mediation involves a neutral third party helping the parties in dispute reach a mutually acceptable resolution. It is a voluntary and confidential process.

Lok Adalat: 

Lok Adalats are informal, people's courts that aim to provide speedy and amicable resolution of disputes, particularly in civil cases.


Ombudsman institutions exist in various sectors (e.g., banking, insurance) to address complaints and grievances of customers or clients against service providers.

Consumer Dispute Redressal Forums: 

These forums handle consumer complaints against sellers and service providers, seeking fair resolutions.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR):

Online Dispute Resolution platforms enable parties to resolve disputes online, often through mediation or arbitration, without the need for physical presence.

Family Courts: 

Family courts handle disputes related to matrimonial and family matters, providing specialized redressal.

Industrial Tribunals and Labor Courts: 

These address employment-related disputes and grievances between employers and employees.

The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of India:

The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of India is a legal framework that governs the arbitration and conciliation processes in India. It was first enacted in 1996 and has undergone amendments over the years to keep up with the changing legal landscape. The Act provides guidelines and procedures for resolving disputes outside of traditional court litigation through arbitration and conciliation methods. The Act applies to both domestic and international arbitration, making it comprehensive in its coverage.

About Lok Adalat:

The Lok Adalat, also known as the People's Court, is a unique and popular alternative dispute resolution mechanism in India. It operates based on the principles of conciliation, compromise, and mutual settlement. 

The working procedure of Lok Adalat involves the following steps:

Pre-Litigation Stage: 

The cases that are eligible for consideration in the Lok Adalat are typically those pending before regular courts or those at the pre-litigation stage. Parties can approach the Lok Adalat directly or through a referral from the court.

Composition of Lok Adalat: 

The Lok Adalat consists of a judicial officer, usually a sitting or retired judge, and two other members, usually social workers or legal professionals.

Voluntary Participation: 

Participation in the Lok Adalat is entirely voluntary. Both parties must agree to refer the dispute to the Lok Adalat for resolution.

Conciliation and Mediation:

During the Lok Adalat session, the members attempt to mediate and facilitate a conciliation process between the parties. They encourage open communication and discussion to help the parties understand each other's perspectives and explore possible solutions.


If the parties reach an agreement and mutually settle the dispute, a written settlement agreement (consent decree) is drawn up and signed by the parties and the members of the Lok Adalat.

Binding Nature: 

The settlement reached in the Lok Adalat is final and binding on the parties involved. It has the same legal standing as a decree passed by a civil court.

Failure to Settle: 

In case the parties fail to reach a settlement in the Lok Adalat, the dispute is returned to the regular court where it was originally pending, and the court continues with the litigation process.

Scope of Cases: 

Lok Adalats deal with various types of civil, criminal, and compoundable cases, including motor accident claims, family disputes, property matters, and petty criminal offenses, among others.

Legal Assistance: 

Parties can seek legal advice and assistance from their lawyers during the Lok Adalat proceedings.

Free of Cost: 

Participation in the Lok Adalat is free of cost, making justice more accessible to ordinary people.

Lok Adalats have been instrumental in resolving a vast number of cases efficiently and effectively, easing the burden on regular courts and promoting the use of alternative dispute resolution methods in India.


Write a short note on the emergence and use of alternative dispute redressal mechanisms in India.

 (UPPSC, UP PCS Mains General Studies-II/GS-2 2018)


The alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system has emerged as a means of resolving disputes outside the formal (main) court in India. These mechanisms have emerged in the time of taking time to undergo a formal legal system and often an alternative option of an expensive process.

Here is a small note on the emergence and use of the alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system in India:

The emergence of the alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system in India:

Historical roots:

India has a long history of resolving disputes through traditional mechanisms such as panchayats (village councils) and community elders. These traditional systems have inspired the modern concept of alternative dispute redressal (ADR) mechanisms in the country.

Legislative Support:

The Indian legal system recognized the need for the alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system. For example, the mediation and reconciliation of 1996 provides a legal framework for other forms of the alternative dispute prevention (ADR) mechanism.

Use of alternative dispute redress (ADR) system in India:

Arbitration :

Arbitration is a widely used alternative dispute redressal (ADR) mechanism in India. It includes parties agreeing to present their dispute to a neutral third party (mediator) that provides a binding decision. Both domestic and international mediation is usually employed to resolve commercial disputes in various fields.


Arbitration is another popular form of alternative dispute prevention (ADR) mechanism. Neutral mediated parties help parties to reach a mutually acceptable resolution through convenience negotiations. Mediation is often used in family, labor, and civil matters.

Lok Adalat:

Lok Adalat, or People's Court, is a unique alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system in India. They are conducted by legal service officers and provide a platform for pending and resolving pre-transition cases through reconciliation and disposal. Lok Adalat has jurisdiction over both citizen and criminal cases and has been successful in reducing the backlog of cases.

Consumer Disputes:

The 1986 Consumer Protection Act established consumer forums and commissions to efficiently resolve consumer disputes. These platforms provide a simplified and accessible alternative dispute redressal (ADR) mechanism for consumers to seek redressal for complaints against sellers, service providers, or manufacturers.

Benefits of alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system in India:

Early decision:

Alternative dispute redressal (ADR) mechanisms provide faster decisions compared to traditional court proceedings, which are often the time taking time due to the backlog of cases.

Effective cost:

The alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system provides cheap dispute redressal for the parties involved in disputes. It eliminates the need for a court fight for a long time, reduces legal fees, and saves time and resources.


Alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system processes, such as arbitration, privacy, and privacy, allow parties to open and clear to reach a redress without fear of public disclosure.

Flexibility and informality:

Alternative dispute prevention (ADR) provides flexibility in terms of the mechanism process and allows parties to keep more control over the result. They promote informal discussions, enable parties to maintain relationships and find mutually agreed solutions.

The emergence and use of the alternative dispute redressal (ADR) system in India has contributed to the efficient and accessible resolution of disputes. They complement the formal legal system and offer several options to the parties to effectively resolve conflicts, leading to greater access to justice and dispute solutions results.


"Lok Adalats have acted as a great catalyst for change in the Indian Legal System". Elucidate.

 (UPPSC, UP PCS Mains General Studies-II/GS-2 2018)


Lok Adalats, also known as People's Courts. They are part of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and have played a transformative role in addressing the issue of pendency of cases and delivering speedy justice to litigants. 

Lok Adalats have indeed acted as a significant catalyst for change in the Indian legal system. 

The following are some ways in which Lok Adalats have brought about positive changes in the Indian legal system:

Speedy Resolution of Cases: 

One of the most significant contributions of Lok Adalats is the quick resolution of cases. Through pre-litigation and post-litigation mediation, Lok Adalats helps parties settle their disputes amicably, avoiding the prolonged litigation process.

Reducing Case Backlog: 

India's courts have been grappling with a massive backlog of cases for decades. Lok Adalats, by providing an effective and expeditious resolution mechanism, helps in reducing the burden on the regular court system and eases the backlog of pending cases.

Access to Justice: 

Lok Adalats are easily accessible to people, particularly those from economically weaker sections of society. They provide a platform for dispute resolution without formalities and procedural complexities, making justice more affordable and accessible.

Focus on Conciliation and Mediation: 

Lok Adalats emphasizes conciliation and mediation to settle disputes. This approach promotes reconciliation between parties, fostering a spirit of cooperation and compromise rather than adversarial litigation.

Encouraging Mutual Agreements: 

Lok Adalats encourages parties to reach mutual agreements and compromises, leading to better satisfaction with the outcomes of disputes as opposed to rigid court-imposed judgments.

Reducing Legal Expenses: 

By providing an alternative to prolonged litigation, Lok Adalats helps parties save substantial legal expenses and reduce the burden on the judicial system.

Reducing Legal Formalities: 

Lok Adalats follows a more informal approach to dispute resolution, which reduces the dependency on complex legal procedures and technicalities, making it easier for individuals to present their cases.

While Lok Adalats has brought about positive changes in the Indian legal system, there are also challenges and limitations. Not all disputes can be effectively resolved through Lok Adalats, especially complex cases involving legal complexities. Moreover, the success of Lok Adalats relies on voluntary participation and cooperation from both parties. Despite these limitations, Lok Adalats have undoubtedly played a significant role in easing the burden on the judiciary, providing swift justice, and promoting alternative approaches to dispute resolution in India.

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