Can Lok Adalat's decision be challenged in HC through writ petition?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Imnindian Imnindian 1 week, 2 days ago.

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  • #2886

    Dear Sir,

    Request your help in clearing the confusion. My question as stated in the subject line if a decision rendered by Lok Adalat can be challenged through a petition filed under Art 226?

    As per the decision of the AP HC (Board Of Trustees Of The Port Of … vs Presiding Officer, District … on 21 August, 2000) , it cannot be.

    “Just as the decree passed on compromise it cannot be challenged in a regular appeal, the award of the Lok Adalat being akin to the same, it cannot be challenged by any regular remedies available under law including invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the correctness of the award on any ground. Judicial review cannot be invoked in such awards especially on the grounds as raised in this writ petition.”

    This ruling has also been quoted by SC in (P.T. Thomas vs Thomas Job on 4 August, 2005) and further goes on to say
    “The award of Lok Adalat is final and permanent which is equivalent to a decree executable, and the same is an ending to the litigation among parties. ”

    Lok Adalat ruled in my favor but OP has challenged it in HC via a writ petition. Is it maintainable?

    Thanks!!

  • #2892

    It is true that Section 21(2) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 lays down that every award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute, and no appeal shall lie to any court against the award.

    It is also true that in P.T. Thomas v. Thomas Job, (2005) 6 SCC 478 : AIR 2005 SC 3575, a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that the award of Lok Adalat is final and permanent which is equivalent to a decree executable, and the same is an ending to the litigation among parties.

    However, it is a well-established principle of law that the writ jurisdiction of a high court cannot be barred even in such situation.

    In fact, the fully correct view in this regard has been laid down in the case of State of Punjab v. Jalour Singh, (2008) 2 SCC 660 : AIR 2008 SC 1209, where a 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that:

    “ It is true that where an award is made by the Lok Adalat in terms of a settlement arrived at between the parties (which is duly signed by parties and annexed to the award of the Lok Adalat), it becomes final and binding on the parties to the settlement and becomes executable as if it is a decree of a civil court, and no appeal lies against it to any court. If any party wants to challenge such an award based on settlement, it can be done only by filing a petition under Article 226 and/or Article 227 of the Constitution, that too on very limited grounds. But where no compromise or settlement is signed by the parties and the order of the Lok Adalat does not refer to any settlement, but directs the respondent to either make payment if it agrees to the order, or approach the High Court for disposal of appeal on merits, if it does not agree, is not an award of the Lok Adalat. The question of challenging such an order in a petition under Article 227 does not arise. As already noticed, in such a situation, the High Court ought to have heard and disposed of the appeal on merits.”

    Last week, on 7th September 2017, in the case of Bharvagi Constructions v. Kothakapu Muthyam Reddy, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1053, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the above decision in the case of State of Punjab v. Jalour Singh by holding that

    “…the aforesaid law laid down by the Supreme Court is binding on all the Courts in the country by virtue of mandate of Article 141 of the Constitution. This Court, in no uncertain terms, has laid down that challenge to the award of Lok Adalat can be done only by filing a writ petition under Article 226 and/or Article 227 of the Constitution of India in the High Court and that too on very limited grounds.

    In the light of clear pronouncement of the law by this Court, we are of the opinion that the only remedy available to the aggrieved person (respondents herein/plaintiffs) was to file a writ petition under Article 226 and/or 227 of the Constitution of India in the High Court for challenging the award dated 22.08.2007 passed by the Lok Adalat. It was then for the writ Court to decide as to whether any ground was made out by the writ petitioners for quashing the award and, if so, whether those grounds are sufficient for its quashing.

    The High Court was, therefore, not right in by passing the law laid down by this Court on the ground that the suit can be filed to challenge the award, if the challenge is founded on the allegations of fraud. In our opinion, it was not correct approach of the High Court to deal with the issue in question to which we do not concur.”

    Therefore, while no regular appeal, suit, review, etc., can be filed against award of the Lok Adalat, it can be challenged under Article 226 / 227 of the Constitution before the high court on certain limited grounds. This is the correct view of law on this issue.

  • #2895

    Thank you sir!!
    One question: The judgment says “on certain limited grounds”. What could be an example of those limited grounds?

    • #2902

      For example, when a compromise is obtained by fraud or misrepresentation.

  • #2905

    Thank you!!
    One last question: Can a party file a writ petition to review the case on merit which would essentially convert it into an appeal? There was no compromise in my case and the OP has challenged the correctness of Lok Adalat’s decision?

    • #2906

      I gave just one example, since you requested for that. There may be other grounds also, though the scope is limited in writ petition – only on certain grounds. Please read the SC judgments mentioned by me. Also search for judgments on that issue.

      Cannot comment on the facts of your case, without having seen the details. But, generally speaking, a writ petition cannot be converted into a regular appeal. It is basically about violation of some rights, plus some similar things. Please show your papers to some local lawyer at your place to get his opinion on your detailed facts.

  • #2907

    Thanks Sir!! Really appreciate your help.

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