The Centre is launching a unique initiative of setting up women-only courts – Nari Adalats – at the village level as an alternate dispute resolution forum for issues like domestic violence, property rights and countering the patriarchal system.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
- About the Nari Adalats [women’s courts]
- Significance of Nari Adalats
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
- The process by which disputes between the parties are settled or amicably resolved without the intervention of judicial institution and any trial is known as Alternative Dispute Resolution.
- The ADR mechanism offers to facilitate the resolution of matters of business issues and the others where it has not been possible to initiate any process of negotiation or arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.
- ADR offers to resolve all types of matters including civil, industrial, and family, etc where people are finding it difficult to settle.
- Generally, ADR uses a neutral third party who helps parties to communicate, discuss the differences and resolve the dispute.
- ADR enables individuals and groups to maintain co-operation, social order, and provides an opportunity to reduce hostilities.
Types of Alternative Dispute Resolution
- The dispute is submitted to an arbitral tribunal which makes a decision (an “award”) on the dispute that is mostly binding on the parties.
- It is less formal than a trial, and the rules of evidence are often relaxed.
- Generally, there is no right to appeal an arbitrator’s decision.
- Except for some interim measures, there is very little scope for judicial intervention in the arbitration process.
- A non-binding procedure in which an impartial third party, the conciliator, assists the parties to a dispute in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreed settlement of the dispute.
- Conciliation is a less formal form of arbitration.
- The parties are free to accept or reject the recommendations of the conciliator.
- However, if both parties accept the settlement document drawn by the conciliator, it shall be final and binding on both.
- In mediation, an impartial person called a “mediator” helps the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute.
- The mediator does not decide the dispute but helps the parties communicate so they can try to settle the dispute themselves.
- Mediation leaves control of the outcome with the parties.
- A non-binding procedure in which discussions between the parties are initiated without the intervention of any third party with the object of arriving at a negotiated settlement to the dispute
- It is the most common method of alternative dispute resolution.
- Negotiation occurs in business, non-profit organizations, government branches, legal proceedings, among nations and in personal situations such as marriage, divorce, parenting, and everyday life.
- The establishment of Lok Adalat system of dispute settlement system was brought about with the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 for expediting the system of dispute settlement. In Lok Adalats, disputes in the pre-litigation stage could be settled amicably.
About the Nari Adalat [Women’s Court]:
- The Nari Adalat scheme is a part of the Sambal sub-scheme under Mission Shakti, which aims to strengthen women’s safety, security, and empowerment.
- It is initiated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- The scheme will be launched as a pilot project in 50 villages each in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
- Over the next six months, it will be extended to the rest of the country.
- The implementation of the scheme will be carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, the Ministry of Rural Development, and Common Service Centers operated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
Inspiration from Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats:
- The Nari Adalat scheme draws inspiration from the Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats (People’s Court of Women), which were previously operated by the National Commission for Women (NCW) until 2014-15.
Key Features of Nari Adalats:
- Each village’s Nari Adalat will consist of 7-9 members called Nyaya Sakhis (legal friends).
- Half of the members will be elected representatives of the gram panchayat, while the other half will be women with social standing, such as teachers, doctors, and social workers, nominated by the villagers.
- The head of the Nari Adalat, known as the Mukhya Nyaya Sakhi (chief legal friend), will be selected from among the Nyaya Sakhis and typically serve for a six-month term.
- Although the Nari Adalat does not hold any legal status, its primary focus is on reconciliation, grievance redressal, and creating awareness of rights and entitlements.
Significance of Nari Adalats:
- Holistic Approach: The Nari Adalat will not only address individual cases but also take a holistic approach by raising awareness about social schemes and government initiatives. This helps in educating women about their rights and entitlements.
- Feedback Mechanism: The Nari Adalats serve as a valuable feedback mechanism to assess the effectiveness of government schemes and programs related to women’s safety, security, and empowerment. This enables policymakers to make informed decisions and improve the implementation of these initiatives.
- Accessibility and Assistance: The Nari Adalats cater to the needs of all women and girls within the local community. They provide a platform for women to seek assistance, guidance, and justice in a supportive and inclusive environment.
- Empowerment and Awareness: By creating awareness about rights, entitlements, and legal provisions, the Nari Adalat scheme empowers women to assert themselves and stand up against injustices. It helps women become more informed about their legal options and assert their rights within their communities.
- Grievance Redressal: The Nari Adalats play a crucial role in addressing grievances and providing a platform for women to voice their concerns. They facilitate reconciliation and provide a space for dialogue, enabling resolution of conflicts and disputes in a fair and just manner.
-Source: The Hindu