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.
What are ‘Gram Nyayalayas’?
Gram Nyayalayas are village courts for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas of India. The establishment of Gram Nyayalayas in India can be traced to the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 passed by the Parliament of India. Even though the target was to set up 5000 village courts in India, only about 200 Gram Nyayalayas are functional now.
- Each Gram Nyayalaya is a court of Judicial Magistrate of the first class.
- Its presiding officer (Nyayadhikari) is appointed by the State Government in consultation with the High Court.
- The Gram Nyayalaya shall be established for every Panchayat at the intermediate level or a group of contiguous Panchayats at the intermediate level in a district.
- The seat of the Gram Nyayalaya will be located at the headquarters of the intermediate Panchayat; they will go to villages, work there and dispose of the cases.
Jurisdiction of ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ –
- Gram Nyayalayas have jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.
- Nyayadhikari can hold mobile courts and conduct proceedings in villages.
- Gram Nyayalayas have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences.
- They can try criminal offences specified in the First Schedule and civil suits specified in Second Schedule to the Act.
- The Central as well as the State Governments have been given the power to amend the First Schedule and the Second Schedule of the Act.
- The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Nyayalayas is fixed by the respective High Courts.
- High Courts can transfer eligible cases from the District court to the Gram Nyayalayas.
- The Court shall try to settle disputes via conciliation between the parties and the court can make use of the conciliators to be appointed for this purpose.