Y.S. RANA, CHANDIGARH—Playing the role of a quasi-judicial adjudicator-cum-mediator, the HP State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) has been successful in settling disputes between parties amicably and expeditiously at pre-litigation stage, thereby reducing the workload of courts. The ranks of beneficiaries of the authority continue to swell by the day. Now under the social responsibility, the authority has turned a new leaf. Looking beyond its domain of spreading legal literacy and awareness, it has taken upon itself to sensitize school children towards the importance of forestry and clean environment. The image of a pristine forest busting with abundant wildlife, lush green trees and sparkling water is one that not only evokes feelings of relaxation but also serve as the core ingredients for life on Earth.
The earnestness of the Authority is borne out by the fact that it has launched a sensitization project to make schools students aware about the role and importance of forests and environment and their responsibilities to protect the core ingredient of life. In 2014, it comes out of its domain and has launched a forestation campaign in collaboration with the forest department of Himachal Pradesh to sensitize the school children about importance of forest and environment to achieve the goal.
Since launch of the project, students of 4,580 schools in the state have planted over 5.92 lakh saplings at various sites selected and identified by the forest department. Students of all government and private schools above primary level have been associated in the forestation drive. The students are taught the proper way of plantation and eco-clubs, NSS in-charge and a teacher of the school are assigned the duty to take care of saplings for three years. The forest department allots the land to schools those do not have land to make the drive a success.
Besides, the authority has also taken up the issues of menace of plastic bags and garbage disposal to get rid of the state from these. Regular camps are held in various schools to aware about the importance of protecting environment, forests. Public is asked not to use plastic bags. People are taught to produce useful products from disposal of garbage instead of throwing it everywhere.
On the other, from measly a few hundred to masterly thousands up to the end of September, 2015, the ranks of beneficiaries of the authority continue to swell by the day. As per official records, the authority has provided legal aid to SC 1281; BC 100; Women 6719; children 155 and in custody 309 up to August, 2015 since its inception in 1988. Playing the role of a quasi-judicial adjudicator-cum-mediator, the authority has been successful in settling disputes between parties amicably and expeditiously both at pre-litigation and post-litigation stages, thereby reducing the workload of courts.
It is revealed that in the National Lok Adalat held on October 10, 2015 in the State has taken up 18,592 cases. Of these, 14,156 cases have been settled and over Rs 1.47 crore was awarded. Since its inception in 1988 to June, 2015 the authority had settled over 2.47 lakh cases in 8907 Lak Adalats held and over Rs 94.47 crore was awarded as compensation
Its favourite modus operandi remains Lok Adalat, an innovative mechanism evolved for resolving disputes in a spirit of conciliation outside courts and without delay and recrimination, says the official of the authority. Number of beneficiaries bears testimony to the effectiveness of this tool, he says. The authority had been constituted in 1988 under the State Service Authority Act 1987, with the objective of providing legal aid to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society to secure their legal rights.
According to official data, during the first six months of this fiscal, it has held 761 lok adalats where 19,361 cases have been settled and over Rs 2.50 crore was awarded as compensation. In the National Lok Adalat held on August 8, 2015, the authority has taken up 1192 cases of pre-litigation and decided 250 cases and an amount of Rs 2.20 crore was awarded as compensation. It has also taken up 30,637 cases of post-litigation, of these settled 26,320 and realized an amount over Rs 4,05 crore as compensation.
Till May this year, the authority has organized 720 literacy camps in which 40,944 people have participated. The authority has also set up village legal care and support Centre in every district of the state. Para legal volunteers are also given special training on the legal rights of the people and to report any violation of the rights so that remedial measures can be taken.
The authority also organized lok adalat where cases pertaining to execution, the Hindu Marriage Act, civil suits, rent cases, public utility services, MACT, labour cases, cases of negotiable instruments Act were taken up. In November 2013, the National Lok Adalat was held across the country that set a world record by amicably settled over 28 lakh cases.
The legal authorities under Section 19 of the Legal Services Authority Act have been constituted in all the 109 courts in the State.