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Monday, April 27, 2015

Lok Adalat, From perusal of the records, we find that at 4.40 p.m. on 03.03.2014, the concerned Legal Services Authority received the records from the regular Court. On the same day soon thereafter, the matter was placed before Lok Adalat Judges. We are of the view that it has not given sufficient time to develop the mindset for settlement of the matter outside the Court, though referred by the Court. It could have been done by the Court itself under Order XXIII of the Code of Civil Procedure.According to us, once the records have been received, the High Court Legal Services Committee or District Legal Services Committee or Sub-divisional Legal Services Committee as the case may be, will issue notice to both the parties or their learned lawyers for placing and settling matter by Lok Adalat. After the notice is served, exercise of settlement should be undertaken only after appearance of the parties after lawful persuasion and on agreement out of own volition. Object of serving notice by the Lok Adalat is to give a chance to the parties to think at the first instance, whether they are prepared to settle the matter through the mechanism of Lok Adalat, whether it is referred as a pending litigation or it is received as a pre- litigation. This course of action was not undertaken in this matter.

THE HONBLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE SRI KALYAN JYOTI SENGUPTA AND THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE SANJAY KUMAR              

WRIT PETITION No.6755 OF 2014  
       
26-03-2015
       
Kudikala Venkateshwar Rao Petitioner

The Special Lok Adalat, Warangal and others Respondents  

!Counsel for the Petitoner:Smt.S.A.V.Ratnam

Counsel for Respondent No.1:----
Counsel for Respondents 2 and 4:Government pleader for Home
Counsel for Respondent No.3: Sri P.Ravinder
Counsel for Respondent No.5 and 6:Sri N.Ashwani Kumar  

<Gist:

>Head Note:

?Cases Referred:

THE HONBLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE SRI KALYAN JYOTI SENGUPTA            
AND
THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE SANJAY KUMAR        

WRIT PETITION No.6755  of  2014


ORDER: (per the Honble The Chief Justice Sri Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta)

        This Writ Petition has been filed impugning the award passed
by the Special Lok Adalat Bench, Warangal, organized by the District
Legal Services Authority, Warangal under the provisions of the Legal
Services Authorities Act, 1987.

     Bereft of unnecessary details, it appears, the award was signed
by the writ petitioner as well as the respondents and dispute is about
the validity and legality of the signature of the petitioner. The point
taken here is that without giving any reasonable time to develop the
mindset for settlement of this matter by compromise, signature was
obtained under coercion. In other words, this award, which is
essentially an agreement, was caused to be executed under coercion or
undue influence. Of course, there have been no particulars or details
of this allegation. Only allegation that requires to be noted that on the
very same day, when the matter was referred by the regular Court to
the Lok Adalat, it was settled by the Lok Adalat Judges and the
petitioner did not have any chance to understand the implication of the
terms and conditions of the compromise. Ordinarily, this sort of
challenge is not entertained by the Court as we find that the parties are
majors and have the knowledge of understanding everything and they
have signed on the terms of compromise. Even the suit to challenge
the award is also barred. But the power of judicial review under
Article 226 of the Constitution of India cannot be taken away. So, in
exercise of our power, we proceed with the matter. From perusal of
the records, we find that at 4.40 p.m. on 03.03.2014, the concerned
Legal Services Authority received the records from the regular Court.
On the same day soon thereafter, the matter was placed before
Lok Adalat Judges.  We are of the view that it has not given sufficient
time to develop the mindset for settlement of the matter outside the
Court, though referred by the Court. It could have been done by the
Court itself under Order XXIII of the Code of Civil Procedure.

     According to us, once the records have been received, the High
Court Legal Services Committee or District Legal Services
Committee or Sub-divisional Legal Services Committee as the case
may be, will issue notice to both the parties or their learned lawyers
for placing and settling matter by Lok Adalat. After the notice is
served, exercise of settlement should be undertaken only after
appearance of the parties after lawful persuasion and on agreement out
of own volition.  Object of serving notice by the Lok Adalat is to give
a chance to the parties to think at the first instance, whether they are
prepared to settle the matter through the mechanism of Lok Adalat,
whether it is referred as a pending litigation or it is received as a pre-
litigation. This course of action was not undertaken in this matter.

     Under these circumstances, we are unable to accept the award
at the moment as a final one. We therefore direct the authorities of the
Legal Services concerned to serve notice to both the parties and refer
the matter to an appropriate Lok Adalat for rehearing of the matter.
For the time being, the award should be kept in abeyance. After the
notice being served, fresh deliberation and persuasion of the parties
concerned take place, if the Lok Adalat finds the award is acceptable
to both the parties, it will accept and record the same.  In the event, it
is not acceptable to any of the parties or for that matter if it is not
possible to settle the matter at all, the matter has to be sent back to the
regular Court for decision and in that case, the award will stand set
aside. In the event the matter is required to be sent back to the Court,
the Court concerned will decide the same as early as possible.

     That apart, we notice that the award is also not in accordance
with law as one of the Members of the Lok Adalat has not even signed
on it. Therefore, the impugned award cannot be acceptable at all, at
the moment.

        This Writ Petition is allowed to the extent indicated above.
However, the cost of the application has to be paid by the writ
petitioner to the respondents. Such costs are assessed at Rs.1,000/-
(Rupees One Thousand only) and to be paid within fortnight from the
date of receipt of the copy of this order. The learned counsel for the
respondents agrees that the costs awarded by us may be directed to be
paid to the High Court Legal Services Committee. We appreciate the
gesture of the learned lawyer appearing for the respondents and direct
the writ petitioner to pay the costs to the aforesaid Committee.
     Office is directed to return the record to the District Legal
Services Committee concerned.

     Consequently, miscellaneous petitions, if any pending, shall
stand closed.
___________________  
K.J. SENGUPTA, CJ  
26th MARCH, 2015

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