Thursday, 14 July 2016

Whether Murder case can be settled in Lokadalat?

Coming back to the facts of the present case, the
offence alleged is under Section 302 of the IPC being noncompoundable
in nature, the Chief Judicial Magistrate before
whom the matter was pending had no jurisdiction to refer the case
to the Lok Adalat. Similarly, the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok
Adalat had no jurisdiction either to summon the record of a noncompoundable
offence from the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate
or to entertain the same under the Act. Nevertheless, the Presiding
Officer of the Mega Lok Adalat had audacity to dispose of the
criminal case instituted under Section 302 of the IPC. Obviously,
the order has been passed in a collusive manner to close down a
criminal case involving the allegation of culpable homicide
amounting to murder.
31. Keeping a final report submitted by the police in a
serious offence under Section 302 of the IPC pending for over 23
months without passing any order on the file is a serious matter. 
Further, disposing of a case registered under Section 302 of the IPC
on the date of receipt of the file by the Presiding Officer of Mega
Lok Adalat in absence of the parties as also in absence of a
compromise or settlement and that too without recording the
dispute between the parties by affixing a pre-prepared perfunctory
award stamp is an act of absolute haste and shows lack of sense of
responsibility. A judge‟s role is to serve the community in the
pivotal role of administering justice according to law. The
competent and conscientious performance by the judicial officers
while presiding Lok Adalats is the most effective way to maintain
respect for the rule of law. Presiding a bench of Lok Adalat by a
judicial officer is not a glamorous work to dispose of cases in order
to improve public image. It is not an exercise of self-promotion. It
is necessary to remember that enthusiasm and competition among
the judicial officers to dispose of cases in Lok Adalats cannot be
made an excuse for passing orders without regard to the rules and
the procedures. Judges are selected because of their recognized
expertise in the area that they are being asked to work. They are
expected to be familiar with the provisions of the Act while
presiding a Lok Adalat. Under no circumstances, the judges can
afford to preside a bench of Lok Adalat for mere entertainment.
 There is a universal principle as old as the law that the Patna 
proceedings of a court or an authority without jurisdiction are
nullity and void ab initio and its judgment therein without effect
either on person or property.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT PATNA
Criminal Writ Jurisdiction Case No.1105 of 2015

Urmila Masomat Wife of Late Narayan Choudhary
Versus
1. The State of Bihar through Superintendent of Police, Katihar, 
CORAM: HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ASHWANI KUMAR SINGH

Date : 12-07-2016

In this writ petition, the petitioner has challenged the
order/award dated 18th December, 2011 passed by the Presiding
Officer, Mega Lok Adalat, Katihar, whereby Amdabad P. S. Case
No. 38 of 2002 dated 12th June, 2002 registered under Section
302/34 of the Indian Penal Code (for short „IPC‟) has been
disposed of.
2. The issues which fell for consideration in this writ
petition are as under :-
“ (i) Whether a Lok Adalat constituted under
Section 19 or 22 of the Legal Services Authorities Act,
1987 (for short „the Act‟) shall have jurisdiction in
respect of any matter relating to an offence not
compoundable under any law.
(ii) Whether a Lok Adalat constituted under Section
19 of the Act can pass an award without having any
compromise or settlement arrived at between the
parties.
(iii) Whether a member or the Presiding Officer of
the Lok Adalat can dispose of any matter by affixing a
pre-prepared award stamp.”
3. I have heard Mr. Bimal Kumar, learned advocate
appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Mr. A. B. Sinha, learned
Standing Counsel appearing on behalf of the State and Mr. Sanjeev
Kumar Singh, learned advocate appearing on behalf of respondents
no. 2 to 4.
4. It is submitted by the learned advocate for the
petitioner that the first information report (for short „FIR‟) of
aforesaid Amdabad P. S. Case No. 38 of 2002 was registered under
Section 302/34 of the IPC on the basis of oral statement of the 
petitioner recorded by the officer-in-charge of Amdabad police
station against three accused persons, namely, Kalu Mandal, Laddu
Mandal and Ribol Mandal. It has been alleged in the FIR that the
named accused persons had poisoned the brother of the petitioner to
death.
5. It is further submitted that during investigation of the
case, while conducting the post-mortem examination on the body of
the deceased, though the doctor had preserved viscera of the
deceased for its chemical examination, the police, in collusion with
the accused persons, submitted final report vide Final Report No.
81 of 2006 dated 28th October, 2006 on 18th December, 2006 in the
court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Katihar even without collecting
the chemical examination report from the Forensic Science
Laboratory. After receipt of the final report, no notice was ever
served upon the petitioner and the case was being adjourned from
one date to another since December, 2006 awaiting the service
report. Lastly, the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate adjourned the
case to 28th May, 2009. Thereafter, the matter was never taken up
in the court and on 18th December, 2011, the case was disposed of
by the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok Adalat, Katihar.
6. It is also urged by the learned advocate appearing on
behalf of the petitioner that it would be apparent from the record 
that the aforesaid case has been disposed of by the Presiding
Officer of Mega Lok Adalat even without serving any notice to the
petitioner and in absence of the parties, without there being any
settlement or compromise on record.
7. Learned advocate appearing on behalf of the State and
learned advocate appearing on behalf of the respondents have
conceded that the order passed by the Mega Lok Adalat is without
jurisdiction.
8. Being shocked and surprised by the statements made
by the respective advocates for the parties, in order to satisfy
myself, vide order dated 15th March, 2016, I had summoned the
lower court record of the Amdabad P. S. Case No. 38 of 2002 from
the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Katihar. From perusal of the
lower court record, it transpires that the final report submitted
under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for
short „CrPC‟) was received in the court of the Chief Judicial
Magistrate on 18th December, 2006 and on the same day, a
direction was made by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate to
issue notice to the informant fixing 19th February, 2007, as the next
date. Since then, the case was adjourned from one date to another
directing the office to comply with the order dated 18th December,
2006 and awaiting the service report in the following manner :-
(i) 19.02.2007 to 08.05.2007
(ii) 08.05.2007 to 07.07.2007
(iii) 07.07.2007 to 12.10.2007
(iv) 12.10.2007 to 11.04.2008
(v) 11.04.2008 to 26.06.2008
(vi) 26.06.2008 to 18.10.2008
(vii) 18.10.2008 to 17.02.2009
(viii) 17.02.2009 to 28.05.2009
(ix) 28.05.2009 to 31.10.2009.
9. On 31st October, 2009, the learned Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Katihar adjourned the case to 14th January, 2010
awaiting the service report of the notice ordered to be sent to the
petitioner. It would be evident from the record that after 31st
October, 2009, the case was never ever taken up by the learned
Chief Judicial Magistrate in his court and on 18th December, 2011,
the case was disposed of by the Presiding Officer of Mega Lok
Adalat, Katihar. On inquiry from the registry, I was informed that
the then Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate posted at Katihar was
the Presiding Officer who had disposed of the aforesaid case.
10. It is pertinent to mention here that it would be evident
from perusal of the proceedings of the lower court record that the
initial order of issuance of notice to the informant passed on 18th
December, 2006 was never complied with by the office. I have
noticed several disturbing aspects on examination of the
proceedings of the case, which are as under :-
(a) There is no justification for mechanical adjournments
of the case from one date to another without looking
into the fact that the initial order of issuance of notice
upon the informant itself was not complied with by the
office;
(b) There is no reason why the matter was not taken up by
the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate in the court on
the date fixed i.e., on 31st October, 2009;
(c) There is no reason why the matter was not taken up by
the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate for over two
years since 28th May, 2009;
(d) It is not revealed by whom and how the matter was
referred to Mega Lok Adalat on 18th December, 2011;
(e) Since the Act does not confer any power to Lok Adalat
to entertain any case in respect of an offence not
compoundable under any law why did the Mega Lok
Adalat take up the matter and disposed it off.
(f) There is no justification for disposing of a case by the
Mega Lok Adalat not only in absence of the parties but
also without any settlement and without issuing any
notice to them in utter haste.
11. Furthermore, another disturbing aspect which is of
great importance is that the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok
Adalat has disposed of the case by affixing and signing a preprepared
order/award stamp, which reads as under :-
“The Case Record Put up today for disposal in
Mega Lok Adalat. The Case is disposed in Mega
Lok Adalat. Office is directed to deposit the Case
Record in RR.
 Sd/-
 P. O.”
12. Having noticed the aforesaid acts of omission and
commission, vide order dated 10th May, 2016, this Court had
sought for an explanation from the then Chief Judicial Magistrate,
Katihar and the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok Adalat, Katihar.
13. The then Chief Judicial Magistrate has stated in his
explanation dated 8th June, 2016 that the record of Amdabad P. S.
Case No. 38 of 2002 was put up before him only once on 31st
October, 2009. He has tried to justify his action by stating that he
could not get track of the record of the aforesaid case due to heavy
rush of work, pressure of urgent works, pendency of charge-sheet 
cognizance and other important matters. He has further stated that
he had never referred the aforesaid case to Mega Lok Adalat for its
disposal, but the concerned Presiding Officer of the bench of Mega
Lok Adalat had orally called for records and concerned clerk might
have handed over the records to him and in this process the record
may have been sent to the Mega Lok Adalat.
14. The then Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate who had
disposed of the aforesaid criminal case has submitted in his
explanation dated 18th June, 2016 that on 18th December, 2011 a
Mega Lok Adalat was organized at Katihar in which he was
presiding a bench which was assigned the job to dispose of cases
received from the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Additional
Chief Judicial Magistrate and Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate.
There was an atmosphere of enthusiasm and competition to dispose
of the maximum number of cases in the Mega Lok Adalat. From all
these courts, a large number of cases were received wherein final
report was submitted by the police and all such cases were disposed
of in the Mega Lok Adalat. He has submitted that the judicial
officers, including him were under immense pressure to dispose of
the highest number of cases in the Mega Lok Adalat and possibly
that was the reason the aforesaid Amdabad P. S. Case No. 38 of
2002 was also disposed of on that date. He has also submitted that 
more than thousand of cases were disposed of by the benches of
Mega Lok Adalat on 18th December, 2011 in Katihar judgeship and
the manner of disposal was the same, i.e., by affixing a preprepared
award stamp and signing over it by the Presiding Officers
of different benches.
15. I am constrained to record that the explanations
submitted by them are far from satisfaction. They have conducted
themselves in a manner which is against the judicial norms and
propriety.
16. I am rather dismayed at the manner in which the entire
matter has been dealt with undermining the very purpose and object
of Lok Adalats. At every stage, the Chief Judicial Magistrate and
the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok Adalat have acted in the
manner contrary to law.
17. The code of judicial conduct requires a judicial officer
to respect and comply with law. They ought to have faith in law
and maintain professional competence in it.
18. I am also deeply concerned with the manner in which
the cases are being taken up and disposed of by the Lok Adalats.
19. The Act was enacted to give effect to the provisions
of Article 39-A of the Constitution which mandates that the
operation of the legal system should promote justice on the basis of 
equal opportunity, and shall in particular provide free legal aid, by
suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way to ensure that
opportunity for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by
reason of economic or other disability.
20. Chapter VI of the Act deals with Lok Adalats.
Sections 19 and 20 of the Act are extracted hereunder :-
“19. Organization of Lok Adalats. –(1) Every State
Authority or District Authority or the Supreme
Court Legal Services Committee or every High
Court Legal Services Committee or, as the case
may be, Taluk Legal Services Committee may
organize Lok Adalats at such intervals and places
and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such
areas as it thinks fit.
(2) Every Lok Adalat organized for an area
shall consist of such number of –
(a) serving or retired judicial officers ; and
(b) other persons,
of the area as may be specified by the State
Authority or the District Authority or the Supreme
Court Legal Services Committee or the High Court
Legal Services Committee, or as the case may be,
the Taluk Legal Services Committee, organizing
such Lok Adalat.
(3) The experience and qualification of other
persons referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (2)
for Lok Adalats organized by the Supreme Court 
Legal Services Committee shall be such as may be
prescribed by the Central Government in
consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
(4) The experience and qualifications of
other persons referred to in clause (b) of subsection
(2) for Lok Adalats other than referred to in
sub-section (3) shall be such as may be prescribed
by the State Government in consultation with the
Chief Justice of the High Court.
(5) A Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to
determine and to arrive at a compromise or
settlement between the parties to a dispute in
respect of –
(i) any case pending before; or
(ii) any matter which is falling within the
jurisdiction of , and is not brought before,
any Court for which the Lok Adalat is
organized:
Provided that the Lok Adalat shall have no
jurisdiction in respect of any case or matter
relating to an offence not compoundable under any
law.
20. Cognizance of cases by Lok Adalats.-
(1) Where in any case referred to in clause (i)
of sub-section (5) of section 19; -
 (i) (a) the parties thereof agree; or
 (b) one of the parties thereof makes an
application to the court, for referring the case to
the Lok Adalat for settlement and if such court is 
prima facie satisfied that there are chances of such
settlement; or
(ii) the court is satisfied that the matter
is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by
the Lok Adalat, the court shall refer the case to the
Lok Adalat:
Provided that no case shall be referred to
the Lok Adalat under sub-clause (b) of clause (i) or
clause (ii) by such court except after giving a
reasonable opportunity of being heard to the
parties.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained
in any other law for the time being in force, the
Authority or Committee organising the Lok Adalat
under sub-section (1) of section 19 may, on receipt
of an application from any one of the parties to any
matter referred to in clause (ii) of sub-section (5) of
section 19 that such matter needs to be determined
by a Lok Adalat, refer such matter to the Lok
Adalat, for determination:
Provided that no matter shall be referred to
the Lok Adalat except after giving a reasonable
opportunity of being heard to the other party.
(3) Where any case is referred to a Lok Adalat
under sub-section (1) or where a reference has
been made to it under sub-section (2), the Lok
Adalat shall proceed to dispose of the case or
matter and arrive at a compromise or settlement
between the parties.
(4) Every Lok Adalat shall, while determining
any reference before it under this Act, act with
utmost expedition to arrive at a compromise or
settlement between the parties and shall be guided
by the principles of justice, equity, fair play and
other legal principles.
(5) Where no award is made by the Lok Adalat
on the ground that no compromise or settlement
could be arrived at between the parties, the record
of the case shall be returned by it to the court, from
which the reference has been received under subsection
(1) for disposal in accordance with law.
(6) Where no award is made by the Lok Adalat
on the ground that no compromise or settlement
could be arrived at between the parties, in a matter
referred to in sub-section (2), that Lok Adalat shall
advice the parties to seek remedy in a court.
(7) Where the record of the case is returned
under sub-section (5) to the Court, such court shall
proceed to deal with such case from the stage,
which was reached before such reference under
sub-section (l).”
 (underlining mine)
21. Chapter VI-A of the Act deals with Permanent Lok
Adalats. Section 22-C under Chapter VI-A deals with cognizance
of cases by Permanent Lok Adalats which is extracted hereunder :-
“22-C. Cognizance of cases by Permanent Lok
Adalat. – (1) Any party to a dispute may, before
the dispute is brought before any Court, make an
application to the Permanent Lok Adalat for the
settlement of dispute :
Provided that the Permanent Lok Adalat
shall not have jurisdiction in respect of any
matter relating to an offence not compoundable
under any law :
Provided further that the Permanent Lok
Adalat shall also not have jurisdiction in the
matter where the value of the property in dispute
exceeds ten lakh rupees :
Provided also that the Central
Government, may, by notification, increase the
limit of ten lakh rupees specified in the second
proviso in consultation with the Central
Authority.
(2) After an application is made under
sub-section (1) to the Permanent Lok Adalat, no
party to that application shall invoke jurisdiction
of any Court in the same dispute.
(3) Where an application is made to a
Permanent Lok Adalat under sub-section (1) , it –
(a) shall direct each party to the
application to file before it a written statement,
stating therein the facts and nature of dispute
under the application, points or issues in such
dispute and grounds relied in support of, or in
opposition to, such points or issues, as the case
may be, and such party may supplement such
statement with any document and other evidence
which such party deems appropriate in proof of
such facts and grounds and shall send a copy of
such statement together with a copy of such
document and other evidence, if any, to each of
the parties to the application ;
(b) may require any party to the
application to file additional statement before it
at any stage of the conciliation proceedings ;
(c) shall communicate any document or
statement received by it from any party to the
application to the other party, to enable such
other party to present reply thereto.
(4) When statement, additional
statement and reply, if any, have been filed under
sub-section (3), to the satisfaction of the
Permanent Lok Adalat, it shall conduct
conciliation proceedings between the parties to
the application in such manner as it thinks
appropriate taking into account the
circumstances of the dispute.
(5) The Permanent Lok Adalat shall,
during conduct of conciliation proceedings under
sub-section (4), assist the parties in their attempt
to reach an amicable settlement of the dispute in
an independent and impartial manner.
(6) It shall be the duty of every party to
the application to cooperate in good faith with the 
Permanent Lok Adalat in conciliation of the
dispute relating to the application and to comply
with the direction of the Permanent Lok Adalat to
produce evidence and other related documents
before it.
(7) When a Permanent Lok Adalat, in
the aforesaid conciliation proceedings, is of
opinion that there exist elements of settlement in
such proceedings which may be acceptable to the
parties, it may formulate the terms of a possible
settlement of the dispute and give to the parties
concerned for their observations and in case the
parties reach at an agreement on the settlement of
the dispute, they shall sigh the settlement
agreement and the Permanent Lok Adalat shall
pass an award in terms thereof and furnish a copy
of the same to each of the parties concerned.
(8) Where the parties fail to reach at an
agreement under sub-section (7), the Permanent
Lok Adalat shall, if the dispute does not relate to
any offence, decide the dispute.”
 (underlining mine)
22. From a bare reading of provisos to Section 19 (5) (i)
and Section 22-C of the Act, it would be manifest that Lok Adalats
constituted under Section 19 or the Permanent Lok Adalats
constituted under Section 22 shall have no jurisdiction in respect of
any matter relating to an offence not compoundable under any law.
23. Thus, the first issue involved in the present case is
decided in negative.
24. So far as the second issue which fell for consideration
of the Court is concerned, it would be evident from perusal of
Sections 19 and 20 of the Act that Lok Adalats have no
adjudicatory or judicial functions. Their functions are purely to
promote compromise or settlement between the parties. The source
of power of Lok Adalats is in conciliation. Where there is no
compromise or settlement, the case cannot be disposed of by Lok
Adalats. In such an eventuality, the case is to be returned to the
court as per law. Section 20 (5) of the Act statutorily recognizes the
right of a party whose case is not settled before the Lok Adalat to
have his case continued before the court for disposal in accordance
with law.
25. In the matter of State of Punjab and another vs.
Jalour Singh and others, reported in (2008) 2 SCC 660, a threejudge
Bench of the Supreme Court while highlighting the
jurisdictional power and functioning of Lok Adalats made
observations against the tendency of judges, who tend to conduct
Lok Adalats like courts as under :-
“9. But we find that many sitting or retired
Judges, while participating in the Lok Adalats as
members, tend to conduct the Lok Adalats like 
courts, by hearing parties, and imposing their
views as to what is just and equitable, on the
parties. Sometimes they get carried away and
proceed to pass orders on merits, as in this case,
even though there is no consensus or settlement.
Such acts, instead of fostering alternative dispute
resolution through the Lok Adalats, will drive the
litigants away from the Lok Adalats. The Lok
Adalats should resist their temptation to play the
part of judges and constantly strive to function as
conciliators. 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.”
 (underlining mine)
26. In the matter of M P State Legal Services Authority
vs. Prateek Jain and another, reported in (2014) 10 SCC 690
while deprecating the tendency of referring even those matters to
the Lok Adalats just to inflate the figures of decision / settlement
for statistical purposes, Supreme Court observed as under :-
“17. In the first instance, we do not understand as
to why the matter was sent to Lok Adalat when
the parties had settled the matter between 
themselves and application to this effect was filed
in the Court. In such a situation, the Court could
have passed the order itself, instead of relegating
the matter to the Lok Adalat. We have ourselves
highlighted the importance and significance of
the institution of Lok Adalat. We would be failing
in our duty if we do not mention that, of late,
there is some criticism as well which, inter alia,
relates to the manner in which cases are posted
before the Lok Adalats. We have to devise the
methods to ensure that faith in the system is
maintained as in the holistic terms access to
justice is achieved through this system. We,
therefore, deprecate this tendency of referring
even those matters to the Lok Adalat which have
already been settled. This tendency of sending
settled matters to the Lok Adalats just to inflate
the figures of decision/settlement therein for
statistical purposes is not a healthy practice. We
are also not oblivious of the criticism from the
lawyers, intelligentsia and general public in
adopting this kind of methodology for windowdressing
and showing lucrative outcome of
particular Lok Adalats.”
 (underlining mine)
27. In the matter of B. P. Moideen Sevamandir and
another vs. A. M. Kutty Hassan, reported in (2009) 2 SCC 198
expressing concern over the matter in which many members of Lok
Adalats are passing peculiar and strange orders, the Supreme Court
observed in paras 12, 15 and 16 as under :-
“12. Such strange orders by the Lok Adalats are
the result of lack of appropriate rules or
guidelines. Thousands of Lok Adalats are held all
over the country every year. Many members of the
Lok Adalats are not judicially trained. There is no
fixed procedure for the Lok Adalats and each
Adalat adopts its own procedure. Different
formats are used by different Lok Adalats when
they settle the matters and make awards. We have
come across Lok Adalats passing “orders”,
issuing “directions” and even granting
declaratory relief, which are purely in the realm
of courts or specified tribunals, that too when
there is no settlement.
15. We may now turn to the role of courts with
reference to Lok Adalats. Lok Adalat is an
alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Having
regard to Section 89 of the Code of Civil
Procedure, it is the duty of court to ensure that
parties have recourse to the alternative dispute
resolution (for short “ADR”) processes and to
encourage litigants to settle their disputes in an
amicable manner. But there should be no
pressure, force, coercion or threat to the litigants
to settle disputes against their wishes. Judges also 
require some training in selecting and referring
cases to Lok Adalats or other ADR processes.
16. Mechanical reference to unsuited mode of
ADR process may well be counterproductive. A
plaintiff who comes to court alleging unlawful
encroachment by a neighbour may well ask what
kind of settlement he should have with an
encroacher in a Lok Adalat. He cannot obviously
be asked to sacrifice a part of his land for
purposes of amicable settlement thereby
perpetuating the illegality of an encroachment. A
plaintiff alleging fraud and forgery of documents
against a defendant may well ask what settlement
he can have with a fraudster or forger through
ADR process as any settlement may mean
yielding to or accepting fraud or forgery.”
 (underlining mine)
28. In view of the discussions made, hereinabove, the
second issue which fell for consideration of this Court is also
decided in negative.
29. The answer to the third question which fell for
consideration of the court is plain and simple. In no case, the Lok
Adalat can dispose of any matter by affixing and signing a preprepared
award stamp. An award by a Lok Adalat is nothing but
assimilation of terms of settlement or compromise arrived at 
between the parties in the form of enforceable order. The terms of
settlement or compromise cannot be the same in all the cases. The
Lok Adalats cannot anticipate or predict the likelihood of the temrs
of settlement between the parties in a particular case. Hence, there
is no scope for disposing of a matter by the Lok Adalat by affixing
a pre-prepared award stamp.
30. Coming back to the facts of the present case, the
offence alleged is under Section 302 of the IPC being noncompoundable
in nature, the Chief Judicial Magistrate before
whom the matter was pending had no jurisdiction to refer the case
to the Lok Adalat. Similarly, the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok
Adalat had no jurisdiction either to summon the record of a noncompoundable
offence from the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate
or to entertain the same under the Act. Nevertheless, the Presiding
Officer of the Mega Lok Adalat had audacity to dispose of the
criminal case instituted under Section 302 of the IPC. Obviously,
the order has been passed in a collusive manner to close down a
criminal case involving the allegation of culpable homicide
amounting to murder.
31. Keeping a final report submitted by the police in a
serious offence under Section 302 of the IPC pending for over 23
months without passing any order on the file is a serious matter. 
Further, disposing of a case registered under Section 302 of the IPC
on the date of receipt of the file by the Presiding Officer of Mega
Lok Adalat in absence of the parties as also in absence of a
compromise or settlement and that too without recording the
dispute between the parties by affixing a pre-prepared perfunctory
award stamp is an act of absolute haste and shows lack of sense of
responsibility. A judge‟s role is to serve the community in the
pivotal role of administering justice according to law. The
competent and conscientious performance by the judicial officers
while presiding Lok Adalats is the most effective way to maintain
respect for the rule of law. Presiding a bench of Lok Adalat by a
judicial officer is not a glamorous work to dispose of cases in order
to improve public image. It is not an exercise of self-promotion. It
is necessary to remember that enthusiasm and competition among
the judicial officers to dispose of cases in Lok Adalats cannot be
made an excuse for passing orders without regard to the rules and
the procedures. Judges are selected because of their recognized
expertise in the area that they are being asked to work. They are
expected to be familiar with the provisions of the Act while
presiding a Lok Adalat. Under no circumstances, the judges can
afford to preside a bench of Lok Adalat for mere entertainment.
32. There is a universal principle as old as the law that the Patna 
proceedings of a court or an authority without jurisdiction are
nullity and void ab initio and its judgment therein without effect
either on person or property.
33. For the reasons aforesaid, the writ petition is allowed.
The impugned order/award dated 18th December, 2011 passed by
the Presiding Officer of the Mega Lok Adalat, Katihar is set aside.
34. The registry is directed to send back the lower court
records summoned by this Court to the court of Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Katihar through special messenger forthwith.
35. It is made clear that since the petitioner is being
represented through her lawyer in the present case, no notice is
required to be sent to her by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Katihar.
The petitioner is directed to appear before the court of Chief
Judicial Magistrate, Katihar on or before 12
th August, 2016 and
make her submissions in respect of the final report submitted by the
investigating agency. After hearing the petitioner, the Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Katihar is directed to pass order on the police report
submitted in the case in accordance with law. In case, the petitioner
fails to appear before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate within
the period stipulated hereinabove, the Chief Judicial Magistrate is
directed to peruse the materials available on record and pass
appropriate order in accordance with law on or before 19th August, 
2016. The Chief Judicial Magistrate is also directed to transmit a
copy of such order to this Court positively by 30th August, 2016.
36. A direction is issued to all Lok Adalats of the State not
to entertain any matter relating to an offence not compoundable
under any law. Violation of this direction will be treated as
contempt of court.
37. The registry is directed to circulate this order amongst
all the District Judges of the State and the respective District Judges
would circulate a copy of this order amongst all the judicial officers
and members of Lok Adalats / Permanent Lok Adalats.
38. Let a copy of this order be also transmitted to the
Member Secretary, Bihar State Legal Services Authority, Patna.
39. Since it has been brought to the notice of this Court by
the Presiding Officer of the Lok Adalat that on 18th December,
2011 more than one thousand cases were disposed of by different
benches in the same manner at Katihar, I direct the District &
Sessions Judge, Katihar to scrutinize the record of all cases
disposed of by the Mega Lok Adalat held on 18th December, 2011
in the campus of Civil Court, Katihar. After such scrutiny, he is
directed to submit his report annexing details of cases disposed of
on the aforementioned date involving offence/offences not
compoundable under any law to this Court within two months from 
the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
40. On receipt of the report of District and Sessions Judge,
Katihar, the registry is directed to place the matter before the Bench
under the heading “For Orders”.
41. Though I have granted the relief sought for in the
instant writ petition by setting aside the impugned order, the matter
is kept pending in the larger interest for the limited purpose
indicated in paragraph 39 above.
Kanchan/-
(Ashwani Kumar Singh, J.)

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