The Supreme Court has directed the states, which are yet to come out with notifications for establishing ‘Gram Nyayalayas’, to do so within four weeks, and asked the high courts to expedite the process of consultation with state governments on this issue.

What’s the issue?

So far only 11 states have taken steps to notify Gram Nyayalayas. Several states have issued notifications for establishing ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ but all of them were not functioning except in Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Only 208 ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ are functioning in the country as against 2,500 estimated to be required by the 12th five-year plan.

About Gram Nyayalayas:

Gram Nyayalayas or village courts are established under the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 for speedy and easy access to justice system in the rural areas of India. The Act came into force from 2 October 2009.

Composition:

The Gram Nyayalayas are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, who will have the same power, enjoy same salary and benefits of a Judicial Magistrate of First Class. Such Nyayadhikari are to be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.

Jurisdiction:

  • A Gram Nyayalaya have 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 to that regards.
  • They have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences.
  • The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Nyayalayas are fixed by the respective High Courts.
  • Gram Nyayalayas has been given power to accept certain evidences which would otherwise not be acceptable under Indian Evidence Act.

Procedure to be followed:

Gram Nyayalayas can follow special procedures in civil matters, in a manner it deem 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Significance:

The setting up of Gram Nyayalayas is considered as an important measure to reduce arrears and is a part of the judicial reforms. It is estimated that Gram Nyayalayas can reduce around 50% of the pendency of cases in subordinate courts and can take care of the new litigations which will be disposed within six months.

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