Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday demanded constitution of an independent commission by the Centre to identify the beneficiaries of welfare, legal and social schemes.
      
Addressing the tenth All India Conference of the legal service authorities of states here, Kumar said the independent commission be set up on the pattern of Election Commission which will strengthen the system of delivery and education and prevent public servants from committing mistakes.
       
The Chief Minister said there are several classes in society for whom several schemes are there for ensuring welfare, legal and social benefits.
       
Kumar said be it legal facility or welfare schemes, the identification of the poor people will help reach the benefits of these schemes to the targeted people, he said.
       
This, he said, would be possible only when an independent commission is established by the central government for identification of the real beneficiaries.

Kumar said, the object of legal services authority is to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen on grounds of economic or other disability and to organize Lok Adalats to ensure that operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.
     
Legal aid for the poor and needy in the country began to be discussed as part of the concept of welfare state right after independence and subsequently different legal aid schemes and committees gave shape to the concept, he said.
     
The purpose was to make legal justice accessible and affordable to all, including the poor and illiterate. The legal services authority act, 1987 and the national legal services authority channelized legal aid programmes and emphasized upon legal literacy and legal awareness campaigns, Kumar said.
        
On the initiative of the then Chief Justice of Patna high court, the state government introduced the concept of mobile Lok Adalats in 2006, the second in the country, which was inaugurated by the then president Dr A P J Kalam. From December, 2005 to December, 2011, the mobile Lok Adalats has disposed off more than 3.93 lakh cases. Similarly, more than 4.29 lakh cases have been disposed off by the Lok Adalats in Bihar from year 2006 to December 2011, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister said Lok Adalats have emerged as a system of alternative dispute resolution in a non-adversarial system.
      
Since the focus is on compromise, therefore the system of Lok Adalats has proved effective for resolving disputes outside the courts, Kumar said.
      
There are neither court fees nor any rigid procedural requirements which speeds up the process. Parties can directly interact with the judge, which is not allowed in regular courts. Cases that are pending in regular courts can be transferred to a Lok Adalats if both the parties agree. This reduces the pressure on the judicial system, he said.
       
However, he said there is scope to make it more effective and purposeful. If lok adalats are given power to decide the case on merit in case parties fails to arrive at any compromise or settlement, this problem can be tackled to a great extent.
        
He emphasised that the legal services authority should identify suitable ngos through whom legal literacy and legal awareness campaigns may be taken to the tribal, backward and far flung area in the country.
       
The Chief Minister pointed out that very large number of disputes pertaining to ownership and possession of land exist in the state for historical reasons.
       
In the programme "Janata Ke Darbar Me Mukhyamantri", he said the largest number of complaints relates to land disputes, which if not redressed expeditiously gives rise to law and order problem.
      
"The existing legal system to redress these grievances is time consuming and very taxing, as a result, the connected parties do not have confidence in the system", he said.

(Agencies)