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No move to amend LSA Act, says Law Minister

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI DEC. 6. Even as the Bar Council of India (BCI) has called for a nationwide strike of lawyers on December 18 to protest against the implementation of the Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act, 2002, the Union Law Minister, Jana Krishnamurthy, has rejected the BCI's demand for further amendments to the Act.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the Minister pointed out that the Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the Act on October 28 in `S.N. Pandey vs Union of India'.

The court had observed that a new Chapter 6 A had been inserted in the LSA (Amendment) Act relating to pre-litigation conciliation and settlement and it was enacted as complementary to Section 89 of the amended CPC Act, being implemented from July 1.

The court said: "we have gone through the provisions of the said chapter which contemplate the setting up of Permanent Lok Adalats (PLAs) for deciding disputes in which public utility services is one of the matters involved. It is quite obvious that the effort of the legislature is to decrease the workload in the courts by resorting to alternative disputes resolution."

Further, the "Lok Adalat is a mode of dispute resolution which has been in vogue since over two decades and hundreds of thousands of cases have been settled through this mechanism and is undisputedly a fast means of dispensation of justice. The litigation is brought to a quick end with no further appeals or anguish to the litigants", the court said. It also noted that the constitution of PLA mechanism contemplates the judicial officer or a retired judicial officer being there along with other persons having adequate experience in the public utility services. "We do not find any constitutional infirmity in the said legislation. The Act ensures that justice will be available to the litigant speedily and impartially. We do emphasis that persons who are appointed on the PLAs should be persons of integrity and experienced. Appropriate rules in this regard will have to be framed, if not already in place," the court added and expressed hope that the PLAs would be set up at an early date.

``In view of this, there is no proposal to amend or recall LSA (Amendment) Act," he said.

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