From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Gram Nyayalayas
Mains level : Gram Nyayalayas and its jurisdiction
The Supreme Court has directed the states, which are yet come out with notifications for establishing Gram Nyayalayas, to do so within four weeks.
What are Gram Nyayalayas?
- Gram Nyayalayas were established for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas across the country.
- The Gram Nyayalayas Act came into force on October 2, 2009.
- In terms of Section 3(1) of the Act, it is for the State Governments to establish Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts.
- The Act authorizes the Gram Nyayalaya to hold mobile court outside its headquarters.
- However, the Act has not been enforced properly, with only 208 functional Gram Nyayalayas in the country ( Sept. 2019) against a target of 5000 such courts.
- The major reasons behind the non-enforcement include financial constraints, reluctance of lawyers, police and other government officials.
Features of the Gram Nyayalayas
- Gram Nyayalaya are established generally at headquarter of every Panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous panchayat in a district where there is no panchayat at intermediate level.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Gram Nyayalayas have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences and nature of suits specified in the First, Second and Third schedule of the Act.
- The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Nyayalayas are fixed by the respective High Courts.
- Appeals in criminal matter can be made to the Sessions Court in the respective jurisdiction and in civil matters to the District Court within a period of one month from the date of judgment.
- Gram Nyayalayas can follow special procedures in civil matters, in a manner it deem just and reasonable in the interest of justice.
- Civil suits are proceeded on a day-to-day basis, with limited adjournments and are to be disposed of within a period of six months from the date of institution of the suit.
- In execution of a decree, the Court can allow special procedures following rules of natural justice.
- Gram Nyayalayas allow for conciliation of the dispute and settlement of the same in the first instance.
- Gram Nyayalayas has been given power to accept certain evidences which would otherwise not be acceptable under Indian Evidence Act.