An award passed in a Lok Adalat is considered to be a decree of the civil court and is not appealable in any court as per Section 21(2) of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. However, there have been several instances wherein Lok Adalat awards are challenged on various grounds such as non-accountability of certain necessary terms, improper execution, misrepresentation etc. The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court has held that an award rendered by the Lok Adalat is not appealable and writ petition under Article 226 and/or 227 of the Constitution of India, against the award is maintainable on very limited grounds.
An appeal was filed by the Appellant challenging the compromise divorce decree passed by Lok Adalat, while reiterating that procedure laid down in the Family Courts Act, 1984 and Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 were not followed.
The bench comprising of Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Anant Kumar, while hearing and adjudicating upon the said First Appeal, opined that provisions of Section 21(2) of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 are clear and specific as to its wordings and further observed that
“In the face of such specific provision in the Act of 1987 under which the award has been passed, we have no hesitation in holding that an award rendered by a Lok Adalat is not amenable to appellate jurisdiction,”
Whilst placing reference to the precedents delivered by the Apex Court in the matter of State of Punjab and another versus Jalour Singh and Ors and Bharvagi Constructions and others versus Kothakapu Muthyam Reddy and Ors, the Bench pointed out as follows:
“It has been held that in case any party wants to challenge such an award based on settlement, it can be done only by filing a petition under Art. 226 and/or 227 of the Constitution of India and that too on very limited grounds.
It has further been explained that where no compromise or settlement is signed by the parties and the order of the Lok Adalat does not refer to any settlement, and further conditions are provided, it would not be an award on the basis of settlement rendered by a Lok Adalat. Such an order would be appealable.
…….Since both the parties consent to a particular settlement, they individually or jointly cannot be allowed to reprobate and therefore, Section 21(2) of the Act of 1987 provides that such award shall be final and binding and no appeal shall lie to any Court against the award.”
The Court, while dismissing the appeal, clearly and patently observed that setting aside of a Lok Adalat award is only possible by way of invoking the Writ Jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.
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Judgment: Soni Kumari Vs Akhand Pratap Singh