HC Quashes ‘Against Law’ Lok Adalat Order 

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has quashed orders by chairman Tehsil Legal Services Committee, Handwara (CJM) for imposing his views in the order without there being any settlement or compromise against the tenets of law.

“The Chairman cannot make a reference on his own when the parties do not extend any request to the effect. It is only when an Award is made by the Lok Adalat in terms of a settlement/compromise which the parties acknowledge and in token thereof they put their signatures to it that it can be executed,” a bench of Justice M M Hanjura said set aside the order passed by him.

The petition was filed by Chief Engineer (PWD) R&B and others, assailing the orders passed in the lok adalat on 29-03-2017 & 25-05-2017. The challenge was inter alia, on the grounds that although the parties did not arrive at any settlement, yet the Chairman Legal Services Authority, without any jurisdiction, determined the issue by assuming unto himself the powers of a Civil Court.

“He has recorded the order in such a fashion and manner as if he had to pass a final judgement in a case. In framing the first order, he has taken refuge under the documents that were produced before him by the respondents without recording any settlement or compromise.”

It was stated that in terms of the section 18(4) of the J&K Legal Services Authorities Act 1997, the jurisdiction of the Lok Adalat is limited to the extent of seeking a settlement or compromise between the parties and not to determine the issue on evidence or merit. The petitioners, while referring to a full bench decision of the apex Court delivered in case titled State of Punjab and another versus Jalore Singh & another,  have stated that the settled law is that the functions of the Lok Adalat are conciliatory and Lok Adalats do not  enjoy adjudicatory powers. “The petitioners have proceeded to state that the award of the Lok Adalat is amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court. It is well settled position of law that if the case does not involve settlement or compromise, the Lok Adalat cannot dispose of the same.  

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