Lok Adalats can’t play role of courts, says Orissa High Court

The court made the observation while quashing an award given by a Permanent Lok Adalat on the issue of installation of coach indication boards at Balangir railway station recently.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High Court Photo | Express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has advised the Lok Adalats to resist a temptation for playing the role of regular judges and constantly strive to function as conciliators.

The court made the observation while quashing an award given by a Permanent Lok Adalat on the issue of installation of coach indication boards at Balangir railway station recently.

The single judge bench of Justice SK Panigrahi said, “The endeavour and effort of the Lok Adalats should be to guide and persuade the parties, with reference to principles of justice, equity and fair play to compromise and settle the dispute by explaining the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages of their respective claims.”

The Permanent Lok Adalat (PSU), Balangir- Sonepur had given the award on a petition seeking direction to the station manager of Balangir railway station to install coach indication boards at the station as in their absence the public are facing lot of inconvenience. Two advocates of the Balangir Bar Association had filed the petition a decade back.

In the award in July 2014, the station manager was directed to move the railway authorities within a period of two months from the date of the order for release of funds to have the coach indication board at the station. The dispute reached the high court with the station manager challenging the Lok Adalat in the same year.

While delivering judgment on it after a decade, on June 25, Justice Panigrahi ruled that “the issue referred cannot be decided by the Permanent Lok Adalat (PSU) rather it can only be decided by the High Court or the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.”

The station manager had submitted that the India Railway Board had issued comprehensive instructions that coach indication system cannot be provided at the stations who come under the category of A,B,C,D,E and F. The Balangir railway station comes under the category of B station.

Taking note of it, Justice Panigrahi ruled that the issue is purely of the policy domain and cannot be decided by the Permanent Lok Adalat.

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