The Kerala High Court recently observed that with the arrangements that are available at present at the Permanent Lok Adalat (PLA), Ernakulam, it cannot possibly take up and dispose of regular cases as well as appeals relating to the floods of 2018 [Bobby P Kuriakose v State of Kerala & Ors.].
Justice VG Arun made the observation after hearing the submissions of the petitioner and going through the report submitted by the PLA.
"Having heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and having gone through the reports submitted by the Permanent Lok Adalat, I have no doubts that with the present arrangements, it will be impossible for the Lok Adalat to take up and dispose of the regular cases and the appeals relating to the floods of 2018," the Court said.
He further directed the Government Pleader to inform the government of the concerns expressed by the Court, so that appropriate steps to provide requisite staff for the PLA can be taken at the earliest.
The matter will be heard next on January 30.
The Court was considering a plea to provide sufficient staff strength to PLA so as to ensure its proper functioning
The petition filed by one Bobby P Kuriakose has also prayed that his insurance claim, which is pending before the PLA, be heard and disposed of within a time frame.
The plea contended that his insurance claim case, which was posted for evidence on October 26, 2022 was adjourned to December 6, 2022.
On enquiry, the petitioner was informed that the PLA has partially stopped functioning since October 1 due to lack of sufficient staff, and all cases, except flood-related cases, have been adjourned by notification for the last 2 months.
The petitioner contended that earlier, the PLA was functioning smoothly by hearing flood appeals in relation to the 2018 Kerala flood in the morning session, and the remaining cases including the petitioner’s case were being heard in the afternoon session.
However, the staff strength of the PLA was reduced from 8 to 3 as a result of which it partially stopped functioning since October 1 and it does not sit in the afternoon session.
The petitioner said in his plea that he apprehends that this situation will continue and that his case will get adjourned indefinitely since the sitting has not resumed even as on date.
“The Permanent Lok Adalats have been set up under Section 22 B of The Kerala State Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 to provide an affordable, speedy and efficient mechanism to secure justice. It is understood that the staff strength of Permanent Lok Adalat, Ernakulam has been reduced from 8 to 3, the result of which, it has partially stopped functioning since 1.10.2022, and most, unfortunately, no action whatsoever has been initiated by the concerned authorities to provide sufficient staff,” the plea said.
In view of the above, if the Court does not interfere, the functioning of the PLA at Ernakulam, would come to an indefinite stand still and the very object and purpose of the statute will be defeated, the petitioner argued.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Rajesh Vijayendran and Asok Chacko Thomas.