The Weekly Obiter

LOK ADALAT DOESN’T HAVE POWER TO ‘HEAR’ PARTIES TO ADJUDICATE CASES AS A COURT DOES: CHHATTISGARH HC. JUNE 26, 2018

July 17, 2018

Hon’ble High Court of Chattisgarh in an appeal from an order passed by the Lok Adalat where, the Lok Adalat Bench had passed the order on merit holding that the offence so sought to be compounded are non-compoundable and passed the orders on merits by dismissing the application for compounding. When the Lok Adalat is not able to arrive at a settlement or compromise, no award is made and the case record is returned to the court from which the reference was received, for disposal in accordance with law. No Lok Adalat has the power to "hear" parties to adjudicate cases as a court does. When the Legal Services Authorities Act refers to ‘determination’ by the Lok Adalat and ‘award’ by the Lok Adalat, the said Act does not contemplate nor require an adjudicatory judicial determination, but a non-adjudicatory determination based on a compromise or settlement, arrived at by the parties, with guidance and assistance from the Lok Adalat. The 'award' of the Lok Adalat does not mean any independent verdict or opinion arrived at by any decision making process. The making of the award is merely an administrative act of incorporating the terms of settlement or compromise agreed by parties in the presence of the Lok Adalat, in the form of an executable order under the signature and seal of the Lok Adalat. Moreover, it was held that, the order of the Lok Adalat cannot be sustained as prima facie it is found that the Lok Adalat has exceeded its jurisdiction not vested in it by law by rendering dismissal and making observation on merits. 

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