Lok Adalat; Bharvagi Constructions Vs. Kothakapu Muthyam Reddy [Supreme Court of India, 07-09-2017]

Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – Order 7 Rule 11 (d) – Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 – Section 21 – Suit seeks to challenge the Award of Lok Adalat – Allegations of fraud – Rejection of Plaint – Only remedy available to the aggrieved person was to file a writ petition under Article 226 and/or 227 of the Constitution of India in the High Court for challenging the award passed by the Lok Adalat.

Held:- It was then for the writ Court to decide as to whether any ground was made out by the writ petitioners for quashing the award and, if so, whether those grounds are sufficient for its quashing. The High Court was, therefore, not right in by passing the law laid down by this Court on the ground that the suit can be filed to challenge the award, if the challenge is founded on the allegations of fraud.

Law includes not only legislative enactments but also judicial precedents. An authoritative judgment of the Courts including higher judiciary is also law.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

[R.K. AGRAWAL] AND [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE] JJ.

September 07, 2017

CIVIL APPEAL No.11345 OF 2017

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.23605 of 2015)

Bharvagi Constructions & Anr. ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

Kothakapu Muthyam Reddy & Ors. …Respondent(s)

Petitioner’s Advocate M/S. LAWYER S KNIT & CO
Respondent’s Advocate C. S. N. MOHAN RAO

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1) Leave granted.

2) This appeal is filed by the defendants against the final judgment and order dated 25.06.2015 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh in Appeal Suit No. 968 of 2013 whereby the High Court allowed the appeal filed by the respondents herein with costs and set aside the order dated 24.07.2013 passed by the second Additional District Judge, Ranga Reddy District in I.A. No.894 of 2010 in O.S. No.107 of 2010.

3) In order to appreciate the short legal controversy involved in the appeal, it may not be necessary to set out the factual controversy involved in the case in detail and only narration of few facts to appreciate the legal question arising in the case would suffice for the disposal of this appeal.

4) On 07.05.2007, T. Jagat Singh (respondent No. 5 herein) filed a civil suit being O.S. No. 481 of 2007 against respondent Nos. 1 to 34 herein (defendant Nos. 1 to 33) in the Court of District Judge, Ranga Reddy District Court.

5) The suit was for specific performance of agreement of sale dated 28.12.1995 said to have been entered into between the parties in respect of agricultural land totally admeasuring AC. 51.29 guntas in (Sy.Nos. 262-274) situated at Pappalguda village of Rajendranagar Mandal, Ranga Reddy District (hereinafter referred to as the “suit land”).

6) Originally, the plaintiff had filed suit only against defendant Nos. 1 to 9 but later on defendant Nos. 10 to 33 made an application for being joined as defendant Nos. 10 to 33 in the civil suit as according to them, they had an interest in the subject matter of the civil suit and also in its decision and, therefore, they were necessary parties to the suit. Their prayer was allowed. The defendants then contested the suit.

7) During the pendency of civil suit, on 22.08.2007, the parties (plaintiff and defendants) settled the matter in relation to the suit land and accordingly entered into written compromise.

8) A joint compromise petition signed by all the parties to the suit was accordingly filed before the Lok Adalat, which held its Lok Adalat sitting in the Court on 22.08.2007.

9) The members of the Lok Adalat before whom the suit was posted for its disposal in terms of the compromise petition filed by the parties perused the compromise petition and accepted the compromise petition finding it to be in order. An Award was accordingly passed on 22.08.2007 under Section 21 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) in terms of the compromise petition, which, in turn, disposed of the suit as having been compromised. (Annexure P-2).

10) On 14.11.2009, respondent Nos. 1 to 4 herein (who were original defendant Nos. 22 to 25 in Suit No. 481 of 2007) filed Civil Suit No. 107 of 2010 against the plaintiff and the remaining defendants of Civil Suit No. 481 of 2007. This suit was filed in the Court of II Additional District Judge, Ranga Reddy District at L.B.Nagar.