Village courts in 6 months

With a joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts on Sunday almost reaching a consensus on the Gram Nyalayas, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily called upon the state governments to operationalise the village courts as quickly as possible. He said that the Centre intended to start the first phase of the project within six months.

“Once the Gram Nyalayas are in operation, justice will be brought to the doorstep of the common people,” Moily said.

The Gram Nyalayas was first conceptualised by the Law Commission of India in its 114th report. The Parliament passed the Gram Nyalayas Bill, which provides for establishment of village courts for every panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous panchayats at intermediate level.

While saying that the concept of Gram Nyalayas was quite unique compared to Gram Panchayat under the Panchayat Act, Moily said Gram Nyalaya would have a first class Magistrate and would deal with offences and relief under the IPC and central acts, and relief under the state acts notified by the state government in addition to civil, property and other disputes. The Gram Nyalayas would follow summary procedure in criminal trial and would dispose of all cases within six months.

Though there was unanimous consensus for operationalising Gram Nyalayas, Moily added that a few states had expressed certain reservations about funding of the Gram Nyalayas.

The Centre suggested that the state governments might draw up a phased programme for operationalisation of the Gram Nyalayas, in case the entire state cannot be covered in one go. The Centre, while drafting the Gram Nyalayas Bill, had estimated that altogether 5,067 village courts would be set up across the country.

The Centre has already decided on providing central assistance for the entire non-recurring cost of establishment of the Nyalayas at the rate of Rs 18 lakh for each village court. The Government would also meet 50 per cent of the recurring expenses at the rate of Rs 6.40 lakh per annum for each Nyalaya for the first three years.

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