Gram Nyayalayas

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Overview:

Recently, a Parliamentary panel said the state government’s apathy has made Gram Nyayalayas almost defunct and recommended to the Department of Justice to seriously ponder over the further continuation of this scheme.

Why in the News?

The panel said even after more than 12 years of coming into force the Gram Nyayalayas are yet to take off in the country. Only 15 states have notified them and about half of those are yet to be operationalized.

What is Gram Nyayalayas?

  • The Law Commission of India, in its 114 Report, had suggested the establishment of Gram Nyayalayas for providing affordable and quick access to justice to the citizens at their doorsteps. 
  • Gram Nyayalayas or village courts are established under the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas of India.

Composition:

  • The Gram Nyayalayas are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, who will have the same power, enjoy the same salary and benefits as a Judicial Magistrate of First Class.
  • Appointment: By the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.
  • Jurisdiction: Over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.
  • The Court can function as a mobile court at any place within the jurisdiction of such Gram Nyayalaya, after giving wide publicity in that regard.
  • They have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences.
  • The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Nyayalayas is fixed by the respective High Courts.
  • Gram Nyayalayas has been given the power to accept certain evidence which would otherwise not be acceptable under the Indian Evidence Act.

Procedure to be followed:

  • Gram Nyayalayas can follow special procedures in civil matters, in a manner it deems just and reasonable in the interest of justice.
  • Gram Nyayalayas allow for conciliation of the dispute and settlement of the same in the first instance.

Appeals:

  • An appeal in criminal cases shall lie to the Court of Session, which shall be heard and disposed of within a period of six months from the date of filing of such appeal.
  • An appeal in civil cases shall lie to the District Court, which shall be heard and disposed of within a period of six months from the date of filing of the appeal.

 


Q1) How many gram nyayalayas are currently operational in India?

To provide access to justice to the citizen at their door steps, the Central Government has enacted the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas at intermediate panchayat level.  The State Governments are responsible for establishing Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts. As per information made available by State Governments / High Courts, 476 Gram Nyayalayas have been notified so far by 15 States.  Out of these 256 are operational in 10 States at present. 

Source: States’ apathy has made gram nyayalayas ‘almost defunct’, says Parliamentary panel