Under section 7, Section 10 and Section 11(A) of Legal Services Authority Act, it is one of the functions of State Legal Services Authority, District Legal Services Authority and Taluka Legal Services Committee to organize Lok Adalats. Under Regulation 10 of Karnataka State Legal Services Regulations 1997 it is one of the functions of the High Court Legal Services Authority to organize Lok Adalats.Lok Adalats can be organized for exercising :
Considering the various provisions of Legal Services Authority Act, State Level Lok Adalat for settelemtn of cases pending before any Court/s in the State, District Level Lok Adalat for the cases pending before any Court/s in the District and Taluka Level Lok Adalat for settlement of case before any Court/s in Taluka can be organized. State Legal Services Authority, District Legal Services Authority and Taluka Legal Services Committee may organize Lok Adalats at such intervals and place for exercising particular kind of jurisdiction. For example a Lok Adalat can be organized for exclusively exercising the jurisdiction of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Reference Court under Land Acquisition Act etc.,
COMPOSITION OF THE LOK ADALAT:
Every Lok Adalat organized for an area shall consist of such number of :-
of the area as may be specified by the Authority/Committee.
It is mandatory that Lok Adalat must consist of serving or retired Judicial Officer/s and Other Person/s. Some time Lok Adalat are organized consisting of two Judicial Officers only, which is not not-permissible. Inclusion of serving or retired Judicial Officer/s as a Member of Lok Adalat will help the parties to know, understand and assess the legal issues involved in the case and assist them in settlement of the matter.
As per Rule 12 of Karnataka State Legal Services Authority Rules a person shall not be qualified to become a member of Lok Adalat unless he is :
As per Regulation 14 of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, Regulations, 1997 :
In many cases referred to Lok Adalat, matter regarding environment, global warming, information technology and other scientific issues may be a subject matter of case for settlement. To assist the parties to arrive at settlement and compromise it is necessary that the Member of the Lok Adalat are conversant with such subject. In such matter it may be appropriate to appoint persons dealing with and having sufficient experience in such subjects. So it is not always necessary that only Advocates or particular category of persons are always appoint as Member of Lok Adalat.
It is also necessary to train the both Judicial and Non-judicial members of Lok Adalat in skills of cancellation and Mediation for effective functioning of the Lok Adalat.
CASES THAT CAN BE REFERRED TO LOK ADALAT
Any cases pending before a Court or any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of a court and not brought before any court (Pre-litigation) for which the Lok Adalat is organized may be referred to Lok Adalat.
Existence of ‘dispute’ is sine quo non. When allegation in the plaint are admitted in written statement, reference of such case to Lok Adalat amounts to abdication of jurisdiction by the Court. (AIR 2003 Kar 242 Basamma petitioner Vs. Taluka Legal Services Committee). Considering the law laid down in this case it may not be proper to refer the case under Section 13 B of Hindu Marriage Act and such other matters where there is no ‘dispute’.
The Lok Adalat shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any case or matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law.
A case or matter can be referred to Lok Adalat when
Providing that no case shall be referred to Lok Adalat except after giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the parties.
Court can suo-motto or at the request of one of the parties may refer the case to Lok Adalat, provided that it is done after giving a hearing to all the parties and it is satisfied that there are chances of settlement or that the case is fit one to be taken cognizance by the Lok Adalat (AIR 2002 (KARNATAKA) 3666 H.V. Venkatesh Vs. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd.,).
It may be noted that in Karnataka State Legal Services Authority Rules, no rules are enacted prescribing “such other matters”.
These powers can be exercised only for the purpose of assisting or helping the parties to arrive at settlement or compromise the matter before the Lok Adalat.
Without prejudice to the generality of the powers, every Lok Adalat or Permanent Lok Adalat shall have the requisite powers to specify its own procedure for the determination of any dispute coming before it.
Pre-litigation petition dealt with by the Lok Adalats shall be matters falling with the jurisdiction of any court (but not brought before the court) for which the Lok Adalat is organized. In order words, the Pre-litigation matters taken up by the Lok Adalat must arise from within the territorial jurisdiction of a court for which the Lok Adalat is organized.
When a Pre-litigation matter is received by the Authority/Committee, it is imperative that the Authority/Committee give notice to the opposite party and a reasonable opportunity of being heard is given to such party.
It may be noted that non-compliance of the procedure prescribed in Section (20) of the Act for cognizance of cases by Lok Adalat may, if challenged under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India, result in setting aside the awards for want of procedural non-compliance.
Drawing up of the award is merely an administrative act of incorporating the terms of settlement or compromise agreed by parties with guidance and assistance from the Lok Adalat.
The compromise or settlement so drawn up may be reduced into writing. When both parties sign/affix their thumb impression and the members of the Lok Adalat countersign it, it becomes an Award. Every Award of the Lok Adalat shall be categorical and lucid and shall be written in regional language used in the local Courts or in English.
The Lok Adalat shall not pass any other “orders” or “directions” or grant any relief’s, apart from passing an award in the manner as stated above.
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