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Friday, 8 January 2021

No case where award complies with rules, HC chides Lok Adalats

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7

In a severe indictment of the Lok Adalats in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted that she had not come across even a single case where an award was passed in compliance with the National Legal Services Authority (Lok Adalats) Regulations, 2009.

"Before parting with this order, it is pertinent to note that during long experience as a member of judiciary, I have not come across even a single case where the Lok Adalat has passed an award in compliance with provisions of Regulation 17 and specimen annexed thereto," Justice Rekha Mittal asserted.

In order to avoid any legal complications, Justice Mittal also directed the Lok Adalats in the states of Punjab, Haryana and UT of Chandigarh to pass award in compliance with the provisions of Regulation 17 of the Regulations.

Justice Mittal also directed the forwarding of the judgment's copy to all the district and sessions judges in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for necessary compliance. The assertion and directions came on two petitions filed by Robin Gupta against M/s Stratford Educational Management Pvt Ltd and other respondents. The parties were represented by senior advocates Sunil Chadha and Puneet Jindal, along with advocates Divanshu Jain, Gaurav Chopra, Tajinder Singh and Pankaj Katia.

Regulation 17 deals with award. Among other things, it was argued before the Bench that Lok Adalat members should append their signatures only in settlement reached before them under sub-regulation (6) of Regulation 17 and avoid affixing signatures to settlement reached by the parties outside the Lok Adalat. It was further argued that Lok Adalat was obligated to pass an award, specimen of which was appended to the Regulations.

Elaborating on the objectives of Lok Adalats, Justice Mittal added these had been set up for settlement of disputes at the pre-litigating and post-litigating stage. The parties were referred to the Lok Adalat to reconcile their differences and settle their disputes without undergoing rigmarole of trial.

Lok Adalat could not decide the dispute between the parties on merits and it could only facilitate settlement of dispute with its intervention or/and pass an award on the basis of out-of-court settlement. As such, the object and purpose of setting up of Lok Adalats was to settle the dispute and not to regenerate the dispute already settled between the parties.

from The Tribune

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