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LokAdalatsAndPermanentLokAdalatsJudicialReviewLokAdalatProcedureFinalityofLokAdalataward
LegalServiceIndiaLokAdalatsAndPermanentLokAdalatsLokAdalatProcedureFinalityofLokAdalataward
LokAdalatsAndPermanentLokAdalats
Writtenby:Karthyaeni.VandVidhiBhatt
Chatwithus(2PM9PMIST)

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LokAdalatsinIndia
ADRhasbeenanintegralpartofourhistoricalpast.Likethezero,theconceptofLokAdalat(Peoples'Court)isaninnovativeIndiancontributiontotheworld
jurisprudence.TheinstitutionofLokAdalatinIndia,astheverynamesuggests,means,People'sCourt."Lok"standsfor"people"andthevernacularmeaning
oftheterm"Adalat"isthecourt.Indiahasalongtraditionandhistoryofsuchmethodsbeingpracticedinthesocietyatgrassrootslevel.Thesearecalled
panchayatandinthelegalterminology,thesearecalledarbitration.ThesearewidelyusedinIndiaforresolutionofdisputes?bothcommercialandnon
commercial.OtheralternativemethodsbeingusedareLokAdalat(People'sCourt),wherejusticeisdispensedsummarilywithouttoomuchemphasisonlegal
technicalities.Ithasbeenprovedtobeaveryeffectivealternativetolitigation.
Theancientconceptofsettlementofdisputethroughmediation,negotiationorthrougharbitralprocessknownas"Peoples'Courtverdict"ordecisionof"Nyaya
Panch"isconceptualizedandinstitutionalizedinthephilosophyofLokAdalat.SomepeopleequateLokAdalattoconciliationormediation,sometreatitwith
negotiationsandarbitration.Thosewhofinditdifferentfromallthese,callit"Peoples'Court".Itinvolvespeoplewhoaredirectlyorindirectlyaffectedby
disputeresolution.
Thesalientfeaturesofthisformofdisputeresolutionareparticipation,accommodation,fairness,expectation,voluntariness,neighbourliness,transparency,
efficiencyandlackofanimosity.
TheconceptofLokAdalatswaspushedbackintooblivioninlastfewcenturiesbeforeindependenceandparticularlyduringtheBritishregime.Now,this
concepthas,onceagain,beenrejuvenated.Ithas,onceagain,becomeverypopularandfamiliaramongstlitigants.Thisisthesystemwhichhasdeeprootsin
IndianlegalhistoryanditscloseallegiancetothecultureandperceptionofjusticeinIndianethos.Experiencehasshownthatitisoneoftheveryefficientand
importantADRsandmostsuitedtotheIndianenvironment,cultureandsocietalinterests.
CampsofLokAdalatswerestartedinitiallyinGujaratinMarch1982andnowithasbeenextendedthroughouttheCountry.
TheevolutionofthismovementwasapartofthestrategytorelieveheavyburdenontheCourtswithpendingcasesandtogiverelieftothelitigantswhowere
inaqueuetogetjustice.ThefirstLokAdalatwasheldonMarch14,1982atJunagarhinGujaratthelandofMahatmaGandhi.LokAdalatshavebeenvery
successfulinsettlementofmotoraccidentclaimcases,matrimonial/familydisputes,labourdisputes,disputesrelatingtopublicservicessuchastelephone,
electricity,bankrecoverycasesandsoon.
Somestatisticsmaygiveusafeelingoftremendoussatisfactionandencouragement.Uptothemiddleoflastyear(2004),morethan200,000LokAdalats
havebeenheldandthereinmorethan16millioncaseshavebeensettled,halfofwhichweremotoraccidentclaimcases.MorethanonebillionUSdollarswere
distributedbywayofcompensationtothosewhohadsufferedaccidents.6.7millionpersonshavebenefitedthroughlegalaidandadvice.
TheStatisticsoftheGujaratStateLegalServicesAuthorityastothenumberofcasesdisposed,theamountofcompensationpaidetchavebeenannexed
herewith.

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LegislationpertainingtoLokAdalats
TheadventofLegalServicesAuthoritiesAct,1987gaveastatutorystatustoLokAdalats,pursuanttotheconstitutionalmandateinArticle39Aofthe
ConstitutionofIndia,containsvariousprovisionsforsettlementofdisputesthroughLokAdalat.ItisanActtoconstitutelegalservicesauthoritiestoprovide
freeandcompetentlegalservicestotheweakersectionsofthesocietytoensurethatopportunitiesforsecuringjusticearenotdeniedtoanycitizenbyreason
ofeconomicorotherdisabilities,andtoorganizeLokAdalatstosecurethattheoperationofthelegalsystempromotesjusticeonabasisofequalopportunity.
EvenbeforetheenforcementoftheAct,theconceptofLokAdalathasbeengettingwideacceptanceasPeople'sCourtsastheverynamesignifies.
SettlementofdisputesatthehandsofPanchayatHeadsortribalheadswasinvoguesinceancienttimes.WhenstatutoryrecognitionhadbeengiventoLok
Adalat,itwasspecificallyprovidedthattheawardpassedbytheLokAdalatformulatingthetermsofcompromisewillhavetheforceofdecreeofacourtwhich
canbeexecutedasacivilcourtdecree.
ProcedureatLokAdalat:
TheprocedurefollowedataLokAdalatisverysimpleandshornofalmostalllegalformalismandrituals.TheLokAdalatispresidedoverbyasittingorretired
judicialofficerasthechairman,withtwoothermembers,usuallyalawyerandasocialworker.ItisrevealedbyexperiencethatinLokAdalatsitiseasierto
settlemoneyclaimssinceinmostsuchcasesthequantumalonemaybeindispute.Thusthemotoraccidentcompensationclaimcasesarebroughtbefore
theLokAdalatandanumberofcasesweredisposedofineachLokAdalat.Oneimportantconditionisthatbothpartiesindisputeshouldagreeforsettlement
throughLokAdalatandabidebyitsdecision.ALokAdalathasthejurisdictiontosettle,bywayofeffectingcompromisebetweentheparties,anymatterwhich

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maybependingbeforeanycourt,aswellasmattersatprelitigativestagei.e.disputeswhichhavenotyetbeenformallyinstitutedinanyCourtofLaw.Such
mattersmaybecivilorcriminalinnature,butanymatterrelatingtoanoffencenotcompoundableunderanylawcannotbedecidedbytheLokAdalatevenif
thepartiesinvolvedthereinagreetosettlethesame.LokAdalatscantakecognizanceofmattersinvolvingnotonlythosepersonswhoareentitledtoavailfree
legalservicesbutofallotherpersonsalso,betheywomen,men,orchildrenandeveninstitutions.Anyone,ormoreofthepartiestoadisputecanmovean
applicationtothecourtwheretheirmattermaybepending,orevenatprelitigativestage,forsuchmatterbeingtakenupintheLokAdalatwhereupontheLok
AdalatBenchconstitutedforthepurposeshallattempttoresolvethedisputebyhelpingthepartiestoarriveatanamicablesolutionandonceitissuccessful
indoingso,theawardpassedbyitshallbefinalwhichhasasmuchforceasadecreeofaCivilCourtobtainedafterduecontest.
FinalityofLokAdalataward:
OneissuewhichraisesitsheadoftenisthefinalityoftheawardoftheLokAdalat.DuringtheLokAdalat,thepartiesagreetoabidebythedecisionofthe
judgeattheLokAdalat.However,itisoftenseenthatlater,thesameorderischallengedonseveralgrounds.Inoneoftherecentdecisions,theSupreme
CourtofIndiahasonceagainlaidtorestallsuchdoubts.Inunequivocalterms,theCourthasheldthatawardoftheLokAdalatisasgoodasthedecreeofa
Court.TheawardoftheLokAdalatisfictionallydeemedtobedecreesofCourtandthereforethecourtshaveallthepowersinrelationtheretoasithasin
relationtoadecreepassedbyitself.This,includesthepowerstoextendtimeinappropriatecases.TheawardpassedbytheLokAdalatisthedecisionofthe
courtitselfthougharrivedatbythesimplermethodofconciliationinsteadoftheprocessofargumentsincourt.
ConsentofParties
ThemostimportantfactortobeconsideredwhiledecidingthecasesattheLokAdalatistheconsentofboththeparties.Itcannotbeforcedonanypartythat
thematterhastobedecidedbytheLokAdalat.However,oncethepartiesagreethatthematterhastobedecidedbytheLokAdalat,thenanypartycannot
walkawayfromthedecisionoftheLokAdalat.Inseveralinstances,theSupremeCourthasheldthatiftherewasnoconsenttheawardoftheLokAdalatis
notexecutableandalsoifthepartiesfailtoagreetogetthedisputeresolvedthroughLokAdalat,theregularlitigationprocessremainsopenforthecontesting
parties.
TheSupremeCourthasalsoheldthatcompromiseimpliessomeelementofaccommodationoneachside.Itisnotapttodescribeitastotalsurrender.
Acompromiseisalwaysbilateralandmeansmutualadjustment.Settlementisterminationoflegalproceedingsbymutualconsent.Ifnocompromiseor
settlementisorcouldbearrivedat,noordercanbepassedbytheLokAdalat.
BenefitsofLokAdalat
ThebenefitsthatlitigantsderivethroughtheLokAdalatsaremany.#First,thereisnocourtfeeandevenifthecaseisalreadyfiledintheregularcourt,the
feepaidwillberefundedifthedisputeissettledattheLokAdalat.
#Secondly,thereisnostrictapplicationoftheprocedurallawsandtheEvidenceActwhileassessingthemeritsoftheclaimbytheLokAdalat.Thepartiesto
thedisputesthoughrepresentedbytheiradvocatecaninteractwiththeLokAdalatjudgedirectlyandexplaintheirstandinthedisputeandthereasons
therefore,whichisnotpossibleinaregularcourtoflaw.
#Thirdly,disputescanbebroughtbeforetheLokAdalatdirectlyinsteadofgoingtoaregularcourtfirstandthentotheLokAdalat?Fourthly,thedecisionof
theLokAdalatisbindingonthepartiestothedisputeanditsorderiscapableofexecutionthroughlegalprocess.NoappealliesagainsttheorderoftheLok
Adalatwhereasintheregularlawcourtsthereisalwaysascopetoappealtothehigherforumonthedecisionofthetrialcourt,whichcausesdelayinthe
settlementofthedisputefinally.Thereasonbeingthatinaregularcourt,decisionisthatofthecourtbutinLokAdalatitismutualsettlementandhenceno
caseforappealwillarise.IneveryrespecttheschemeofLokAdalatisaboontothelitigantpublic,wheretheycangettheirdisputessettledfastandfreeof
cost.
#Lastbutnottheleast,fasterandinexpensiveremedywithlegalstatus.
Thesystemhasreceivedlaurelsfromthepartiesinvolvedinparticularandthepublicandthelegalfunctionaries,ingeneral.Italsohelpsinemergenceof
jurisprudenceofpeaceinthelargerinterestofjusticeandwidersectionsofsociety.Itsprocessisvoluntaryandworksontheprinciplethatbothpartiestothe
disputesarewillingtosortouttheirdisputesbyamicablesolutions.Throughthismechanism,disputescanbesettledinasimpler,quickerandcosteffective
wayatallthethreestagesi.e.prelitigation,pendinglitigationandpostlitigation.
OveralleffectoftheschemeoftheLokAdalatisthatthepartiestothedisputessitacrossthetableandsortouttheirdisputesbywayofconciliationin
presenceoftheLokAdalatJudges,whowouldbeguidingthemontechnicallegalaspectsofthecontroversies.
TheschemealsohelpstheoverburdenedCourttoalleviatetheburdenofarrearsofcasesandastheawardbecomesfinalandbindingonboththeparties,no
appealisfiledintheAppellateCourtand,assuch,theburdenoftheAppellateCourtinhierarchyisalsoreduced.Theschemeisnotonlyhelpfultotheparties,
butalsototheoverburdenedCourtstoachievetheconstitutionalgoalofspeedydisposalofthecases.About90%ofthecasesfiledinthedevelopedcountries
aresettledmutuallybyconciliation,mediationetc.and,assuch,only10%ofthecasesaredecidedbytheCourtsthere.Inourcountry,whichisdeveloping,
hasunlikethedevelopedcountries,numberofJudgesdisproportionatetothecasesfiledand,hence,toalleviatetheaccumulationofcases,theLokAdalatis
theneedoftheday.
PermanentLokAdalats
DuringthelastfewyearsLokAdalathasbeenfoundtobeasuccessfultoolofalternatedisputeresolutioninIndia.Itismostpopularandeffectivebecauseof
itsinnovativenatureandinexpensivestyle.Thesystemreceivedwideacceptancenotonlyfromthelitigants,butfromthepublicandlegalfunctionariesin
general.InIndia,duringthelastfewyearsLokAdalathasbeenfunctioningcontinuouslyandpermanentlyineverydistrictcentre.Intalukcentresalsosittings
ofLokAdalatshavebeenheldsuccessfully.Severalthousandsofpendingcasesanddisputeswhichhadnotreachedlawcourtshavebeensettledthrough
LokAdalats.
ThemajordefectofthemechanismofLokAdalatisthatitcannottakeadecision,ifoneoftheparties,isnotwillingforasettlement,thoughthecaseinvolves

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anelementofsettlement.Theadamantattitudeshownbyoneamongthepartieswillrendertheentireprocessfutile.EvenifallthemembersoftheLokAdalat
areoftheopinionthatthecaseisafitoneforsettlement,underthepresentsetup,theycannottakeadecisionunlessallthepartiesconsent.
InhisinauguraladdressatthesecondannualmeetoftheStateLegalServicesAuthorities,1999,thethenHon'bleChiefJusticeDrA.S.Anandairinghim
viewsstatedthus:
"TherewillbenoharmifLegalServicesAuthoritiesActissuitablyamendedtoprovidethatincase,inamatterbeforeit,theJudgesoftheLokAdalatsare
satisfiedthatoneofthepartiesisunreasonablyopposingareasonablesettlementandhasnovaliddefencewhatsoeveragainsttheclaimoftheoppositeparty,
theymaypassanawardonthebasisofthematerialsbeforethemwithouttheconsentofoneormoreparties.Itmayalsobeprovidedthatagainstsuch
awards,therewouldbeoneappealtothecourttowhichtheappealwouldhavegoneifthematterhadbeendecidedbyacourt....Thiscourse,Ithink,would
giverelieftoaverylargenumberoflitigantscomingtoLokAdalatsatprelitigativestageaswellasinpendingmatters."
In2002,ParliamentbroughtaboutcertainamendmentstotheLegalServicesAuthoritiesAct,1987.ThesaidamendmentintroducedChapterVIAwiththe
captionPRELITIGATIONCONCILIATIONANDSETTLEMENT.Section22Benvisagesestablishmentof"PERMANENTLOKADALATS(PLA)"atdifferent
placesforconsideringthecasesinrespectofPublicUtilityServices(PUS).
IfthereisadisputewithrespecttoPUS,asperSection22C(1),anypartytosuchadisputecan,beforebringingittoacourtoflawforadjudication,makean
applicationtoPLAforthesettlementofthatdispute.Thepartymakingsuchapplicationneednotbeapartywhoraisesaclaimagainstapublicutilityservice.
Ifaclaimismadebyoneagainstapublicutilityservice,theestablishmentcarryingoutthepublicutilityservicecanalsoraisethatdisputebeforePLAto
resolveit.TheonlylimitationisthatPLAshallnothavejurisdictiontoconsideradisputerelatingtoanoffencenotcompoundableunderanylaworanymatter
wherethevalueofthepropertyindisputeexceedsRs10lakhs.ButtheCentralGovernmentcan,byanappropriatenotification,increasethislimit.Oncean
applicationhasbeenmadetoPLAbyoneparty,nopartytothatapplicationshallinvokethejurisdictionofanycourtinthesamedispute.
PLAhastobeestablishedbytheNationalLegalServicesAuthorityortheStateLegalServicesAuthorities.ItshallhavethreememberstheChairman,whois
orhasbeenaDistrictJudgeoranAdditionalDistrictJudgeorhasheldajudicialofficehigherinrankthanthatofaDistrictJudgeandtwoothermembers
havingadequateexperienceinpublicutilityservice.SuchpersonsshallbeappointedbytheStateortheCentralAuthority,asthecasemaybe,upon
nominationbytherespectiveGovernments.Butatthesametime,suchnominationshallbeontherecommendationoftheCentralortheStateAuthority.
Section22C(3)providesthatwhenanapplicationisfiledraisingadispute,thepartiesshallbedirectedtofilewrittenstatementswithappropriateproof,
includingdocumentsandotherevidence.Copiesofdocumentsproducedandstatementsmadebythepartiesshallbegiventoeachother.ThereafterPLA
shallconductconciliationproceedingsbetweenthepartiestobringaboutanamicablesettlementtothedispute.ItistheprimarydutyofPLAasperSection22
C(4).Whileconductingsuchconciliationproceedings,itisincumbentonthemembersofPLAtoassistthepartiestoreachanamicablesettlement.
ThepartiesarealsoobligedtocooperateingoodfaithwithPLA.IfPLAisoftheopinionthat"thereexistelementsofsettlementinsuchproceedings,which
maybeacceptabletotheparties",itshallformulatethetermsofpossiblesettlement,communicateitsobservationstothepartiesandifthepartiesagree,the
settlementshallbesignedandanawardshallbepassedintermsofsuchsettlementandcopiesoftheawardshallbefurnishedtotheparties.SeeSection22
C(7).Itisalsoprovidedinsubsection(8)thatincaseswherethereexistelementsofsettlement,butthepartiesfailtoreachatanagreement,"thePermanent
LokAdalatshall,ifthedisputedoesnotrelatetoanyoffence,decidethedispute"."Forthepurposeofholdinganydetermination"thePermanentLokAdalat
shallhavethesamepowersasarevestedinacivilcourtundertheCodeofCivilProcedure,1908whiletryingasuit,inrespectofsummoningandenforcingof
attendanceandexaminingofwitnesses,discoveryorproductionofdocuments,receptionofevidenceonaffidavits,requisitioningofpublicrecordsand
documentsandsuchothermatterastheGovernmentmayprescribe.PLAcanspecifyitsownprocedurefordecidingthedisputecomingbeforeitandthe
proceedingsshallbedeemedtobejudicialproceedings.TheawardofPLA,whethermadeonmeritoronsettlementshallbefinalandbindingonpartiesandbe
deemedtobeadecreeofacivilcourt.Itshallbeexecutedasifitisadecreeofacivilcourthavingjurisdictioninrespectofthedisputeinvolved.Butthe
awardcannotbecalledinquestioninany"originalsuit,applicationorexecutionproceedings".This,ineffect,istheschemeoftheamendmentestablishinga
PermanentLokAdalat(PLA).
Thiswill,certainly,provetobeveryeffective,litigantfriendlyandlessexpensivemechanismtoresolvecertainseriousdisputes.AsPUSarerenderedmainly
bycorporatebodies,thisvirtuallywillbeaforumforordinarymenandwomentoventilatetheirgrievancesagainstsuchcorporatebodies.Inthechanging
economicscenarioofthecountrywhereinsurance,communicationandotherservicesarethrownopentocorporategiants,itisallthemorenecessaryto
provideforcosteffectiveanddelayfreetoolsforresolutionofdisputes.PLAisastructuredclubbingconciliatorymodewithcertainfeaturesofarbitrationto
arriveatdecisionsundergivencircumstances.Thereissharpcriticismagainstthismachinerybothinitsconstitutionanditsfunctioningespeciallyfrom
lawyers.Themainoppositionagainsttheamendmentisbasedonthefollowingviz.(1)withregardtotheconstitutionofPLA(2)insofarasPLAisgiventhe
powertodecideadisputeunliketheordinaryLokAdalats(LA)envisagedasperSection19oftheActwhichonlyconciliatesthedisputeand(3)absenceof
provisionforappealagainstthedecisionofPLA.
Itissubmittedthatthereisnobasisforthesecriticisms.AstheGovernmentisnominatingthemembers,theremaybepoliticalconsiderationintheir
appointment,itissaid.ItistruethatthemembersofPLAshallbenominatedbytherespectiveGovernments.Butsuchnominationshallbe,intermsof
Section22B(2)(b)oftheAct,onrecommendationbytheLegalServicesAuthorityconcerned.Aftersuchnomination,theyhavetobeappointedbytheLegal
ServicesAuthorityconcerned.SothereisnochancefortheGovernment'snomineegettingappointed.
ThereisaCentralAuthoritycalledthe"NationalLegalServicesAuthority".ItspatronistheHon'bleChiefJusticeofIndia.ItsExecutiveChairmanisthe
seniormostJudgeoftheSupremeCourtofIndia.TwoamongthemembersaretwoChairmenoftheStateLegalServicesAuthoritieswhoareinvariablysitting
JudgesoftheHighCourtsconcerned.AnothermemberistheSecretaryoftheDepartmentofLegalAffairsandthereisaMemberSecretarywhoisaDistrict
Judge.Apartfromthat,therearemembersliketheSecretary,DepartmentofExpenditure,andmembersappointedbytheGovernmentinconsultationwiththe
ChiefJusticeofIndia.Thosepersonsshallbeeminentpersonsinthefieldoflaworpersonsofreputeinthelegalservicesschemesoreminentsocialworkers.
SofarastheStateLegalServicesAuthoritiesareconcerned,itisheadedbyaPatroninChiefwhoisnoneotherthantheHon'bleChiefJusticeoftheHigh
Court.InalmostalltheStateAuthorities,exceptperhapsoneortwo,asittingJudgeoftheHighCourtfunctionsastheExecutiveChairman.ADistrictJudge
functionsastheMemberSecretary.

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SofarasKeralaisconcerned,theothermembersaretheRegistraroftheHighCourt,theAdvocateGeneral,theDirectorGeneralofProsecutions,the
ChairmanoftheBarCouncilofKerala,PresidentoftheKeralaHighCourtAdvocates'Association,theLawSecretary,theFinanceSecretary,DirectorofHealth
Services,DirectorGeneralofPolice,Chairman,KeralaStateWomen'sCommissionandpersonshavingspecialknowledgeandpracticalexperienceinsocial
serviceetc.OtherStateAuthoritiesalsohavesimilarconstitution.Itistheseauthoritieswithsucheminentpersonalitieswhichshallrecommendthenamesof
themembersofPLA.ItisabodyconsistingoftheChiefJusticeoftheHighCourtandasittingJudgewhoistheExecutiveChairmanoftheStateAuthority,
whichconsistsofeminentpersonsinthelegalfieldthatrecommendssuchmembers.Memberssorecommendedshallhavetobenominatedbythe
Government.ThememberssonominatedshallhavetobeappointedbytheauthorityconcernedasmembersofPLA.Itcannotbetakenthatthemembersso
recommendedbytheauthorityshallbeonpoliticalconsiderationorincompetenttofunctionasmembersofPLA.Itcannotbetakenthatabodyconsistingof
theChiefJusticeandasittingJudgeorretiredJudgeandotherpersonswiththestatusofaDistrictJudgeandAdvocateGeneral,ChairmanofBarCounciletc.
willrecommendincompetentpersonstobemembersofPLA.Theserespectablepersons,itishoped,willalwaysrecommendonlycompetentpersons.It
cannotbepresupposedthattheserespectablebodiesconsistingofveryeminentpersonswillrecommendincompetentincumbents.
Thereiscriticismthatthepersonssoappointedwillnothavelegalbackground.Presently,thespecialisedtribunalsareappointedwiththerepresentativesof
socialorganisationsorexperts.Inthecaseofmachineriessetuptotrydisputesraisedbyconsumers,membersotherthanChairmanarepersonswithoutlegal
background.Eveninadministrativetribunals,personswithoutlegalbackground,butonlywithadministrativeexperienceareappointedasmembers.Alongwith
personswithjudicialbackgroundexpertsorexperiencedpersonswithoutlegalbackgroundarealsoappointedinotheralternativedisputeredressalforums.
ThesecondcriticismiswithregardtothefunctioningofPLAinsofarasitisgiventhepowertodecideadisputewhenthepartiesdonotagreeforasettlement.
Whiledecidingthedispute,itismadeclearthattheprovisionsoftheCodeofCivilProcedureandtheIndianEvidenceActwillnothaveapplication.Inother
words,thedeterminationordecisionswillbeinasummarymanner.Asalreadymentionedabove,PLAisgivenamplepowerinthematterofreceptionof
evidence,examinationofwitnessesetc.thepowerthatacivilcourthas.AdecisionispossibleonlyinthosecaseswhereintheopinionofthePermanentLok
Adalat"thereexistelementsofsettlement".Insuchcases,PLAformulatesthetermsofapossiblesettlementandgivessuchtermstothepartiesconcerned
fortheirobservations.Theseobservationswillbeconsideredonthebasisofevidenceproducedbytheparties.Iftheydonotcometoasettlement,PLAshall
decidethedispute.Thatmeans,PLAisnotgiventhepowertodecideeverydisputecomingbeforeit.Onlythosedisputeswherethereexistelementsof
settlementcanbedecidedbythePermanentLokAdalat.ThedecisionortheopinionofthePermanentLokAdalatastowhetherthereexistelementsof
settlementisalsoamatterwhichcanbesubjectedtojudicialreviewunderArticle226oftheConstitutionofIndia.Therefore,thereshallbeacheckinthat
respectaswell.
ItisfurtherensuredintheActthatwhiledecidingthedisputeonmerit,PLAshallbeguidedbythe"principlesofnaturaljustice,objectivity,fairplay,equityand
otherprinciplesofjustice".Thus,afairprocedureisalwaysenvisaged.Therefore,thereisnoreasonforanycriticismonthepowergrantedtoPLAtodecide
thedisputeintheeventofasettlementnotbeingarrivedatdespitetheexistenceofanelementofsettlement.
ItcannotbesaidthatthereisnoappealagainstthedecisionofPLA.SofarastheordinaryLokAdalats(LA)areconcernedwhichisinexistenceevenpriorto
theamendmentandisstillbeingcontinuednoappealwilllieagainstanawardofthatLokAdalat.TheordinaryLAadoptsonlyaconciliatorymethodanddoes
notdecideadispute.Therefore,disputesaresettledonconsentoftheparties.Whenadisputeissettledbasedonconsent,noappealneedliefromanysuch
orderorawardevenifthereisasettlementincourt.Underthecivilprocedurelawalsonoappealshallliefromadecreepassedonconsentoftheparties.This
isthereasontheActdeclaresthat"noappealshalllietoanycourtagainsttheaward"ofordinaryLokAdalat(LA)envisagedinChapterVIoftheAct.
ButtheawardofPermanentLokAdalat(PLA)envisagedinthenewlyintroducedChapterVIAisdifferent.Ifitisanawarduponconsentofpartiesandisasa
resultofcompromise,necessarily,nobodywillthinkofanappeal.WhenthereisadecisionbyPLA,asthepartiesdidnotagreeforacompromise,itis
possiblethattheaggrievedpartymaythinkofanappeal.EveryawardofthePermanentLokAdalat,whetheritisbasedonconsentoftheparties,oron
compromiseoruponthedecision,"shallbedeemedtobeadecreeofacivilcourt".ThusthedecisiontakenbyPLAwillhavealltheattributesofadecreeofa
civilcourt.Itwillbetakenandconsideredinallrespects,asadecreeofacivilcourt.Everydecree,unlessitisappealedagainstandsolongasitisallowedto
continue,willbefinalandbindingontheparties.SameisthecaseofanawardofPLA.Itistruethatthereisnoprovisionforappeal.Butappealisnot
expresslyexcluded,inthecaseofawardofPLAs.ItisnotstatedanywhereintheActthatanawardofaPLAshallnotbecalledinquestioninanyappeal,as
isdoneinthecaseoftheawardofanordinaryLokAdalat(LA)inSection21(2)oftheAct.
Certainly,appealwilllieonlyifitisprovidedsomewherebylaw.Otherwise,onecannotfileanappeal.ItseemsthattheprovisionofSection96(1)CPCcould
bereliedontoestablishthatanappealisnotexcluded.Asalreadymentionedabove,theawardofPLAhasalltheattributesofacivilcourtdecreeanditis
deemedasadecreeofacivilcourt.Section96(1)oftheCodeofCivilProcedure,1908provides:
SavewhereotherwiseexpresslyprovidedinthebodyofthisCodeorbyanyotherlawforthetimebeinginforce,anappealshallliefromeverydecreepassed
byanycourtexercisingoriginaljurisdictiontothecourtauthorizedtohearappealsfromthedecisionsofsuchcourt."WhentheawardofPLAistreatedasa
decreeofcivilcourtandasitisnototherwiseprovidedintheLegalServicesAuthoritiesActthatnoappealshallliefromsuchaward,necessarily,thatbeing
deemedacivilcourtdecree,anappealshallliefromthatdecree.
AnawardofPLAshallbeexecutedbyacivilcourt"havinglocaljurisdiction"dependingupontheamountofthedecree.Necessarily,anappealshallalsolieto
acourtdependinguponthequantumoftheamountinvolvedinthedecreeortotheHighCourtbeingadecisionofabodyconsistingofthreepersonsofwhicha
DistrictJudgeoraretiredDistrictJudgeistheChairman.Sothereispossibilityforajudicialreviewinanappeal.
InthecaseoftheawardsofordinaryLokAdalat(LA),thestatutespecificallyprovidesthatitshallnotbechallengedinanappeal.Buttheverysamelegislature
didnotlegislatesuchaprovisionwhenitdealtwiththeawardofPLA.ThemanifestdifferenceintheprovisionsrelatingtotheawardsofPLAandLAisnot
accidental.ThedifferencereallymeansthatanappealispossibleagainstanawardofPLAintermsofSection96(1)oftheCodeofCivilProcedure,whenitis
notspecificallybarredbytheLegalServicesAuthoritiesAct,1987andastheawardhasalltheattributesofadecreeofacivilcourt.Evenotherwise,the
jurisdictionunderArticle226oftheConstitutionofIndiacannotberuledout,beingoneamongthebasicfeaturesoftheConstitutionofIndia.Therefore,the
criticismthattheawardofPLAcannotbecalledinquestioninahigherforumhasnoforce.Moreover,PLAisamachinerytosettleordecidedisputesrelating
topublicutilityservices.Inthechangingeconomicscenario,theestablishmentsrenderingpublicutilityservices,enumeratedintheActmightberunby
corporatesectors.Commonpeoplemayhaveclaimsagainstthesecorporates.Iftheyaregivenaspeedyandinexpensiveremedytoresolvetheirgrievances,
itshouldbewelcomed.

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Lawyerscanverywellapprisetheclientofthedemerits,ifany,ofthemachineryofPLA.Inspiteofthat,ifthepartyisinclinedtoresorttothecheaper
remedy,itcannotbesaidthatthelegislationisantilitigant,asthereisnocompulsionthatoneshallfirstapproachPLAbeforeapproachingacourtoflaw.
Ofcourse,asalreadymentioned,thepartyotherthantheclaimantalsocanraisethedisputebeforePLAanditislikelythatPLAmayrenderadecision,ifno
settlementisarrivedat,inspiteoftheexistenceofelementsofsettlement.Thusanawardmaycomeagainstapersonwhoreallydidnotdesiretoavailofthis
remedyinrespectofhisclaims.Insuchcircumstances,hecaneitherresorttoanappeal,oratanyrate,toproceedingsunderArticle226oftheConstitutionof
India.ItcannotbearguedthatthemembersofPLAwillbebiasedintheirdecisionandthattheymayevendefeatthedecisionoftheChairmanbyforminga
majorityonextraneousconsiderations.Evenifithappenssoinararesituation,certainlyitcanbecorrectedeitherinaproceedingunderArticle226ofthe
ConstitutionofIndiaorinanappealasmentionedabove.
ThereshallbesomedefinitequalificationsfortheothermembersofPLA.Presentlywhatisrequiredisthattheyshallhave"adequateexperienceinpublic
utilityservice".Thisistoovagueaphraseology.Itisalwaysadvisabletospelloutdefinitequalifications,sothatthelitigantswillhaveconfidencethatthe
personsdecidingtheirdisputesaresufficientlyqualifiedandable.
Asalreadymentionedabove,itispossible,ifsomebodyraisesaclaimagainstpublicutilityservices,thelattercanbringthatdisputebeforePLA.PLAmay
takesometimetorenderadecision.Incasenocompromiseisarrivedat,andifthecaseinvolvesnoelementofsettlementwhatwillhappen,ifinthe
meantimetheperiodoflimitationisover,sofarastheclaimantpartyisconcernedCanitbetakenthathehasbeen"prosecutingwithduediligenceincivil
proceedings"inacourtBecause,sofarasPLAisconcerned,hewasnotthepartyinitiatingthedispute.TheLokAdalatisnottreatedasacourt,butonly
vestedwithcertainpowersofacivilcourtorshallbedeemedtobeacivilcourtforthepurposeofSection195andChapterXXVIoftheCodeofCriminal
Procedure,1973.Theseaspectsrequireconsideration.
3.ScopeForJudicialReview
ACriticalStudy
ObjectiveofLokAdalatistosettlethedisputeswhicharependingbeforethecourts,bynegotiations,conciliationandbyadoptingpersuasivecommonsense
andhumaneapproachtotheproblemsofthedisputants.
ThelargepopulationofIndiaandtheilliteratemasseshavefoundtheregulardispensationofjusticethroughregularcourtsverycumbersomeandineffective.
ThespecialconditionsprevailingintheIndiansocietyandduetotheeconomicstructure,highlysensitizedlegalserviceisrequiredwhichisefficaciousforthe
poorandignorantmasses.TheLokAdalatmovementisnomoreanexperimentinIndia.Itisnowasuccessandbutneedstobereplicatedincertainmatters.
InthischaptertheresearchershavetriedtoarriveatwhetherthereisanyneedforajudicialreviewinthecurrentstatusandscenarioofLokAdalatswiththe
necessarycriticalstudyoverthematterwithpossiblesolutionsandsuggestionsasandwhenneeded.
AsaforesaidintheobjectiveoftheLokAdalats,theintentionofthelegislatorhasbeentoputanendtothedisputessummarilyandreducetheburdenofthe
courts.Therefore,theLokAdalatsdecidethemattersonaconsent/compromisebasis.TheLokAdalatpassestheawardafterthepartieshaveagreedonthe
settlementandhavegivenconsentoverit.
TheLokAdalatwillpassestheawardwiththeconsentoftheparties,thereforethereisnoneedeithertoreconsiderorreviewthematteragainandagain,asthe
awardpassedbytheLokAdalatshallbefinal.EvenasunderSection96ofC.P.C.that"noappealshallliefromadecreepassedbytheCourtwiththeconsent
oftheparties".TheawardoftheLokAdalatisanorderbytheLokAdalatundertheconsentoftheparties,anditshallbedeemedtobeadecreeoftheCivil
Court,thereforeanappealshallnotliefromtheawardoftheLokAdalatasunderSection96C.P.C.
InPunjabNationalBankv.LakshmichandRaitheHighCourtheldthat"TheprovisionsoftheActshallprevailinthematteroffilinganappealandanappeal
wouldnotlieundertheprovisionsofSection96C.P.C.LokAdalatisconductedunderanindependentenactmentandoncetheawardismadebyLokAdalat
therightofappealshallbegovernedbytheprovisionsoftheLegalServicesAuthoritiesActwhenithasbeenspecificallybarredunderProvisionsofSection
21(2),noappealcanbefiledagainsttheawardunderSection96C.P.C."TheCourtfurtherstatedthat"ItmayincidentallybefurtherseenthateventheCodeof
CivilProceduredoesnotprovideforanappealunderSection96againstaconsentdecree.TheCodeofCivilProcedurealsointendsthatonceaconsent
decreeispassedbyCivilCourtfinalityisattachedtoit.Suchfinalitycannotbepermittedtobedestroyed,particularlyundertheLegalServicesAuthoritiesAct,
asitwouldamounttodefeattheveryaimandobjectoftheActwithwhichithasbeenenacted,hence,weholdthattheappealfiledisnotmaintainable.
TheHighCourtofAndhraPradeshheldthat,inBoardofTrusteesofthePortofVisakhapatnamv.PresidingOfficer,Permanent,LokAdalatc`Theaward
isenforceableasadecreeanditisfinal.Theendeavourisonlytoseethatthedisputesarenarroweddownandmakethefinalsettlementsothattheparties
arenotagaindriventofurtherlitigationoranydispute.ThoughtheawardofaLokAdalatisnotaresultofacontestonmeritsjustasaregularsuitbyaCourt
onaregularsuitbyaCourtonaregulartrial,however,itisasequalandonparwithadecreeoncompromiseandwillhavethesamebindingeffectand
conclusivejustasthedecreepassedonthecompromisescannotbechallengedinaregularappeal.
"Thetruthis,ajudgmentbyconsentisintendedtoputastoptolitigationbetweenthepartiesjustasmuchasisajudgmentwhichresultsfromthedecisionof
theCourtafterthematterhasbeenfoughtouttotheend.AndIthinkitwouldbeverymischievousifonewerenottogiveafairandreasonableinterpretationto
suchjudgments,andweretoallowquestionsthatwerereallyinvolvedintheactiontobefoughtoveragaininasubsequentaction."
TothelikeeffectarethefollowingobservationsoftheJudicialCommitteein'Kinchv.Walvott'
"FirstofalltheirLordshipsareclearthatinrelationtothispleaofestoppelitisofnoadvantagetotheappellantthattheorderinthelibelactionwhichissaidto
raiseitwasconsentorder.Forsuchapurposeandorderbyconsent,notdischargedbymutualagreement,andremainingunreduced,isaseffectiveasan
orderoftheCourtmadeotherwisethanbyconsentandnotdischargedonappeal."

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Onthisauthorityitbecomesabsolutelyclearthattheconsentorderisaseffectiveasanorderpassedoncontest,notonlywithreferencetotheconclusion
arrivedatintheprevioussuitbutalsowithregardtoeverystepintheprocessofreasoningonwhichthesaidconclusionisfounded.
Whenwesay"everystepinthereasoning"wemeanthefindingsontheessentialfactsonwhichthejudgmentortheultimateconclusionwasfounded.Inother
wordsthefindingwhichitwasnecessarytoarriveatforthepurposeofsustainingthejudgmentintheparticularcasewilloperateasestoppelbyjudgment.
Inalltheabovejudgments,ithasclearlybeenlaiddownthat,amatterofconsentdecreeneednotgoonanappeal.However,thepowerofjudicialreviewina
givencaseisimplicitundertheConstitutionunlessexpresslyexcludedbyaprovisionoftheConstitution.Thispowerisavailabletocorrectanyorderpassed
byastatutoryauthoritywhichisviolativeofanyoftheprovisionsofthestatute.TheLokAdalatisacreationofstatuteandgetsjurisdictionfromitandhence
thisCourtiscompetenttogointoanorderpassedbyit,todecidewhethertheorderinquestionisvalidinlaw.ThewritjurisdictionoftheHighCourtcannotbe
circumscribedbyprovisionsofanyenactmentasistobefoundinSection21oftheActanditcanalwaysexerciseitsjurisdictionifanorder,leftalone,would
amounttoabrogatingtheruleoflaw.
ThequestionofappealandjudicialreviewinthecaseofaPLAishoweverdifferent.ItcannotbesaidthatthereisnoappealagainstthedecisionofPLA.So
farastheordinaryLokAdalats(LA)areconcernedwhichisinexistenceevenpriortotheamendmentandisstillbeingcontinuednoappealwilllieagainstan
awardofthatLokAdalat.TheordinaryLAadoptsonlyaconciliatorymethodanddoesnotdecideadispute.Therefore,disputesaresettledonconsentofthe
parties.Whenadisputeissettledbasedonconsent,noappealneedliefromanysuchorderorawardevenifthereisasettlementincourt.Underthecivil
procedurelawalsonoappealshallliefromadecreepassedonconsentoftheparties.ThisisthereasontheActdeclaresthat"noappealshalllietoanycourt
againsttheaward"ofordinaryLokAdalat(LA)envisagedinChapterVIoftheAct.
ButtheawardofPermanentLokAdalat(PLA)envisagedinthenewlyintroducedChapterVIAisdifferent.Ifitisanawarduponconsentofpartiesandisasa
resultofcompromise,necessarily,nobodywillthinkofanappeal.WhenthereisadecisionbyPLA,asthepartiesdidnotagreeforacompromise,itis
possiblethattheaggrievedpartymaythinkofanappeal.EveryawardofthePermanentLokAdalat,whetheritisbasedonconsentoftheparties,oron
compromiseoruponthedecision,"shallbedeemedtobeadecreeofacivilcourt".ThusthedecisiontakenbyPLAwillhavealltheattributesofadecreeofa
civilcourt.Itwillbetakenandconsideredinallrespects,asadecreeofacivilcourt.Everydecree,unlessitisappealedagainstandsolongasitisallowedto
continue,willbefinalandbindingontheparties.SameisthecaseofanawardofPLA.Itistruethatthereisnoprovisionforappeal.Butappealisnot
expresslyexcluded,inthecaseofawardofPLAs.ItisnotstatedanywhereintheActthatanawardofaPLAshallnotbecalledinquestioninanyappeal,as
isdoneinthecaseoftheawardofanordinaryLokAdalat(LA)inSection21(2)oftheAct.
Certainly,appealwilllieonlyifitisprovidedsomewherebylaw.Otherwise,onecannotfileanappeal.ItseemsthattheprovisionofSection96(1)CPCcould
bereliedontoestablishthatanappealisnotexcluded.Asalreadymentionedabove,theawardofPLAhasalltheattributesofacivilcourtdecreeanditis
deemedasadecreeofacivilcourt.Section96(1)oftheCodeofCivilProcedure,1908provides:
SavewhereotherwiseexpresslyprovidedinthebodyofthisCodeorbyanyotherlawforthetimebeinginforce,anappealshallliefromeverydecreepassed
byanycourtexercisingoriginaljurisdictiontothecourtauthorizedtohearappealsfromthedecisionsofsuchcourt.WhentheawardofPLAistreatedasa
decreeofcivilcourtandasitisnototherwiseprovidedintheLegalServicesAuthoritiesActthatnoappealshallliefromsuchaward,necessarily,thatbeing
deemedacivilcourtdecree,anappealshallliefromthatdecree.
AnawardofPLAshallbeexecutedbyacivilcourt"havinglocaljurisdiction"dependingupontheamountofthedecree.Necessarily,anappealshallalsolieto
acourtdependinguponthequantumoftheamountinvolvedinthedecreeortotheHighCourtbeingadecisionofabodyconsistingofthreepersonsofwhicha
DistrictJudgeoraretiredDistrictJudgeistheChairman.Sothereispossibilityforajudicialreviewinanappeal.
InthecaseoftheawardsofordinaryLokAdalat(LA),thestatutetheverysamelegislaturedidnotlegislatesuchaprovisionwhenitdealtwiththeawardof
PLA.ThemanifestdifferenceintheprovisionsrelatingtotheawardsofPLAandLAisnotaccidental.Thedifferencereallymeansthatanappealispossible
againstanawardofPLAintermsofSection96(1)oftheCodeofCivilProcedure,whenitisnotspecificallybarredbytheLegalServicesAuthoritiesAct,1987
andastheawardhasalltheattributesofadecreeofacivilcourt.Evenotherwise,thejurisdictionunderArticle226oftheConstitutionofIndiacannotberuled
out,beingoneamongthebasicfeaturesoftheConstitutionofIndia.Therefore,thecriticismthattheawardofPLAcannotbecalledinquestioninahigher
forumhasnoforce.
ThequestionofappealincaseofLokAdalatandPermanentLokAdalatisthereforeclear.Thewholeintentionofthelegislatorhasbeentoprovideforafinality
oftheproceedingssincethemattersweretobesettledonacompromisebasis.
Thereisalwaysthescopetogoforawritpetitiontochallengetheawardincaseofanygraveillegality.Theprobabilityoffraud,misrepresentation,forceetc
whilearrivingattheconsentorcompromisecannotberuledout.Thereisagainachancethattheoneofthepartiesmaynotbeinapositiontounderstandthe
natureofthelegalityoftheproceedingsandanawardhasbeenpassedduetothesheernegligenceofthejudge.
Thelikelihoodofsucheventscannotberuledout.InMansukhlalVithaldasChauhanv.StateofGujarat,itwasheldthatThedutyoftheCourtistoconfine
itselftothequestionoflegality.Itsconcernshouldbe,(i)whetherthedecisionmakingauthorityexceededitspowers?(ii)committedanerroroflaw(iii)
committedabreachoftherulesofnaturaljustice(iv)reachedadecisionwhichnoreasonableTribunalwouldhavereachedor(v)abuseditspowers.Inthe
caseonhandtheLokAdalatexceededitspowers,committedanerroroflaw,committedbreachoftherulesofnaturaljusticeandabuseditspowers.Evenif
thisCourtweretostrictlyconfineitselftothequestionoflegality,theimpugnedordercannotstillbetoleratedasitsuffersfromallthefoiblesthatjustify
interferenceunderArticle226oftheConstitution.

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TheKarnatakaStateBarCouncilwasopposedtothesectionintheActwhichsaidifonepartyapproachedthepermanentLokAdalat,theotherpartyhadno
optionbuttoparticipateinthelitigation.Thiswasopposedtothecanonsofjustice,thelawyerssaid."Therightofjudicialrevieworappealisfundamentalinall
legalmattersandmakingthedecisionofthepermanentLokAdalatsfinal,withouttherightofappeal,willvestunrestrictedpowerinthehandsofatribunalin
whichtwononofficialscandominate...itwillimpairtheadministrationofjustice,''theysaid.
InElectionCommissionofIndiav.UnionofIndiaandOrs.,theApexCourtwhiledealingwiththepowersoftheCourtundertheConstitutiontointerfere
withanorderpassedbytheElectionCommission,laiddown:"Therearenounreviewablediscretionsundertheconstitutionaldispensation.Theoverall
constitutionalfunctiontoensurethatconstitutionalauthoritiesfunctionwithinthesphereoftheirrespectiveconstitutionalauthorityisthatoftheCourts".The
enunciationbytheApexCourtmakingevenanorderbyaconstitutionalauthorityreviewableshouldleavenodoubtinanyone'smindthatadiscretion
exercisedbyastatutoryauthoritywouldbewellwithinthereviewablediscretionofthisCourt.
N.L.Rajag,PresidentofConsumerCourts,BarAssociationalsopointedoutthatPermanentLokAdalatsdoperformandcanperforminvaluableserviceas
conciliatorsormediators.ButthentotellpartiesthateveniftheydonotagreetosettlethemattertheLokAdalatwouldgoaheadandpassadecreewhichwill
thenbebindingonthem,ishorrendouslyarbitraryandunreasonable.
Butonetendstoforgettheforumofjudicialreviewisalwaysopenforthepartiesthroughthewritpetitions.ThisisabasicfeatureoftheConstitutionand
cannotberuledout.Denialofitwouldbeunfairandunwarranted.
TheultimateresultwouldbethatallthesematterswillcomeknockingatthedoorsoftheHighCourt,thussuffocatinganalreadyoverloadedHighCourt.
Theauthorcanbereachedat:karthyaeni@legalserviceindia.com/PrintThisArticle
SignificanceofLokAdalatsinpresentscenario:Thetopicoftheassignmentpaperis"SignificanceofLokAdalatsinpresentscenario"anditdealswiththe
veryquestionoftheapplicabilityofLokAdalats
LokAdalat&PerspectiveofParibarikMahilaLokAdalat:LokAdalatnowisplayingsoleroleinsolvingdisputesandsettlingMACTcases
LokAdalats:TheconceptofLokAdalatswaspushedbackintooblivioninlastfewcenturiesbeforeindependenceandparticularlyduringtheBritishregime
SignificanceofLokAdalat:CampsofLokAdalatwerestartedinitiallyinGujaratinMarch1982andnowithasbeenextended
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AbdulRehmanCKPunjabiUniversity
Iamaseniorcitizenagedover70yearsandunderstressandstrainIagreedtheawardofLokAdalatinapropertycase,butnowI
realizethatthesettlementwasnotcompletlyguidedbytheprincipleofjustice.AsperSec21ofact39of1987Iamnotpermitted
toappealagainsttheaward.Thelawpermitsappealinallotherjudgementsandacriminalcanappealevenagainstdeath
punishmentinhighercourtwhythisactcouldberemoved?Pleaseadvice.
LikeReplyAug4,20157:54am

PreranaSarafInternatIndusLaw
ThereisaneedtoimprovelegalaidserviceinIndiainordertoactuallyimplementtheobjectiveofLEgalAidServicesAuthorities
Act,1987.Thereisacrucialneedtospreadawarenesstopoorpeopleabouttheirrighttofreelegalaid.Togetmoreinsightsonit,
readhttps://legalparley.wordpress.com/.../abortionalegal.../
LikeReplyJul10,201511:10am

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