COMPARISION BETWEEN LOK ADALATS AND PERMANENT LOK ADALAT
Lok Adalat is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. The cases that are pending in courts or are at the pre-litigation stage are settled in Lok Adalat. The cases are settled through conciliation, which is why Lok Adalats are one of the most important components of the ADR system operating in India.
Permanent Lok Adalat is a permanent body constituted to settle cases relating to Public Utility Services like transport, postal, telegraph, etc. A Chairman and two members are appointed for settling disputes through conciliation.
Comparison between Lok Adalat and Permanent Lok Adalat:
Jurisdiction- The Lok Adalat has jurisdiction to attend any case that is pending before a court of law, and cases that are likely to be filed before the court of law. The Permanent Lok Adalat has jurisdiction to attend cases only relating to Public Utility Services such as transport, postal, telegraph sanitation, banking, education, dispensary, power, light, water, insurance, housing, and real estate services. The pecuniary jurisdiction of Permanent Lok Adalats has increased from Rs. 10 lacs to Rs. One crore.
Settlement- The disputes before Lok Adalats are settled by conciliators who don’t have any judicial role. Thus, the conciliators can only persuade the parties to settle the dispute, they do not have the authority to make a decision without the consent of the parties. This is a major drawback of Lok Adalats. The whole procedure becomes futile if one of the parties is not willing to reach on a settlement, even if the conciliators are of the opinion that the dispute is capable of being resolved through conciliation.
On the contrary, Permanent Lok Adalats have a two-fold power. The disputes can be settled through conciliation, if the parties are not able to reach on a settlement, then the Permanent Adalats have exclusive jurisdiction to decide the matter, provided the dispute is not related to any compoundable offense. Thus, Permanent Lok Adalats are reconciliation as well as adjudicating bodies.
Appeal- The Legal Services Authorities Act states that an award made by a Lok Adalat is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and no appeal shall lie against such orders. Thus, the parties cannot file an appeal against the decision of the Lok Adalats, although the parties’ have the discretion to approach the appropriate court and file a fresh civil suit if they are aggrieved by the decision of the Lok Adalat. By doing so, the parties exercise their right to litigate.
In the case, Bar Council of India v. Union of India, (2012) 8 SCC 243 the Supreme Court stated that the award made by Permanent Lok Adalats are non- appealable. It was stated that Permanent Lok Adalats are special tribunals constituted for the purpose of speedy redressal and resolution of public utility disputes, hence to avoid unnecessary prolongation the awards are made non- appealable. If the parties are unsatisfied with the decision, they always have an option to file a petition before the High Court under Article 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution.