Permanent Lok Adalats can adjudicate disputes in case no settlement is reached between the parties

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding an issue related to the validity of the award and jurisdiction of Permanent Lok Adalat, the Court observed that the working of the Permanent Lok Adalats differ from the Lok Adalats constituted by the State/ District Legal Services Authority as the Permanent Lok Adalats can record evidences and adjudicate any case on basis of it’s merits incase of non- consensus between the parties.

In the instant case the petitioner bank raised a question on the validity of an award given by the Permanent Lok Adalat on the matter of upholding the claim on a Fixed Deposit Receipt. The counsel for the petitioner R.S. Bhatia put forth the argument that Permanent Lok Adalat did not have the jurisdiction to decide the issue as the power to directly decide the case would run counter to the scheme of the Lok Adalat which promotes decision on mutual settlement between the parties.

The Court however terming the suit of the petitioner bank as vexatious and an attempt to thwart the course of justice observed that under Section 22C of Legal Services Authority Act 1987, the Lok Adalats are guided by the principles of natural justice and the Permanent Lok Adalat made every effort to settle the matter but since the settlement did not take place the Permanent Lok Adalat had to adjudicate the dispute. In this light the Court held that there was no error in the exercise of jurisdiction by the Permanent Lok Adalat.

Punjab National Bank v. Suresh Kumar Nagpal, CWP No. 14697 of 2014 (O&M), decided on 01.08.2014  

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnline

One comment

  • Permanent Lok Adalats decision is welcome because justice cannot be blocked on technical grounds

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