Pathik sends us this Post;

The Union Law and Justice Minister H R Bhardwaj announced recently that 3,000 gram nyayalayas (village courts) would start functioning within a month (by March) across the country. This is an important step in decentralizing the justice delivery system and to promote expeditious adjudication and resolution of disputes. This step towards decentralization at the lower judiciary level, where over 2.5 crore cases are pending disposal, will attract more attention especially in light of the law commission’s recent suggestion of setting up circuit courts or benches of the Supreme Court in different parts of the country.

The proposal to set up 3000 gram nyayalayas was announced by Mr. Bhardwaj at a conference organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on the “Need for Strengthening Alternate dispute Resolution in India.” A budget of 600 crores, which the Finance Ministry is willing to release, has been sanctioned for this project. Each Court would end up with a corpus of around 20 lakh rupees.

This announcement comes subsequent to the passing of the Gram Nyayalayas Bill, 2008 by the Parliament on December 21, 2008. The bill had earlier been passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 17, 2008. The essential feature of the bill is that it provides for holding of mobile courts and conducting proceedings by the ‘Nyaya Adhikari’ (Judicial Magistrates First Class) by periodically visiting the villages.

The main objectives of the Bill can be summarized as follows:-

a)      To provide speedy, affordable and substantive justice to the poor at grass root level in the rural areas at their doorstep.

b)      Gram Nyayalaya will act as Subordinate Court at Intermediate Panchayat level.

c)      The Gram Nyayalayas so established will be in addition to the civil and criminal courts established under any other law  for the time being in force.

d)      The Central Government will bear all the non-recurring expenditure for setting up of the Gram Nyayalayas and will bear half of the recurring expenditure for three years after setting up of the Gram Nyayalayas.

e)      The Gram Nyayalayas will be empowered to deal with both criminal cases as well as civil cases as per the procedure laid down in the Gram Nyayalayas Bill

This would ensure that inexpensive and efficacious justice is delivered to the remotest areas possible