High Court of Judicature at Madras: The Bench of V. M. Velumani, J. recently addressed a civil revision petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution which challenged the decree order of the Small Causes Court, dated 28/10/2010.
The petitioner, also the claimant, had filed a case in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal claiming compensation of Rs. 3,00,000 for the injuries sustained due to an accident. During the pendency of the case before the Lok Adalat, the petitioner and the second respondent, i.e., the insurance company came to a settlement wherein it was agreed upon that the second respondent would pay an amount of Rs. 1,55,000, in view of which the Lok Adalat passed an award directing the said amount to be paid for full withdrawal of the petitioner’s claim. The second respondent had deposited the amount. This was followed by the first respondent challenging the award and to stop issuance of the cheque and instead conducting the trial on merits. This was based on the contention of the first respondent, i.e., the owner of the vehicle that her vehicle was not the offending vehicle in the first place.
The counsel for the petitioner contended that an award of the Lok Adalat can be challenged only by initiating proceedings under Article 226 or 227 of the Constitution. He contended that the Tribunal failed to see that the matter was referred to the Lok Adalat on the application filed by the petitioner under Section 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act and it was not correct to state that no notice was served on the first respondent. Despite the notice having been served, there had been no representation on behalf of the first respondent.
The Court held that the relief that was being seeked by the petitioner would not stand since it was already well settled in law by way of the judgment in Bharvagi Constructions v. Kothakapu Muthyam Reddy, 2017 (5) CTC 775 that an award of the Lok Adalat could only be challenged by initiating proceedings under Article 226 or 227 of the Constitution of India and that too only on limited grounds. Hence, it held that the Tribunal had committed an error and irregularity by allowing the petition filed by the first respondent. [N. Prabhuraj v. Josephine, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 12290, order dated 6/12/2017]