Funds crunch hits setting up of Gram Nyayalayas

 Even two years after its launch, the State’s first grama nyayalaya (rural court) is yet to start functioning.

For, the Karnataka government has so far not released the funds required for the setting up of the courts.

The rural courts, which were set up under the provision of the Gram Nyayalaya Act, 2008, were aimed at providing inexpensive justice to people in rural areas at their doorsteps.

Amidst much fanfare, two gram nyayalayas were launched simultaneously at a function in Chikkaballapur on October 2, 2010, in the presence of the then Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the then Union Minister for Law and Justice M Veerappa Moily, the then Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court J S Khehar and Chief Justice of Odisha Justice V Gopalagowda.

The two courts were supposed to come up at Hossur in Gauribidanur taluk and Mandikal in Chikkaballapur taluk. Moily, MP for Chikkaballapur, had taken keen interest in establishing the courts in his constituency.

Two years after the launch, when Deccan Herald tried to ascertain the status of the two courts, highly placed sources in the Karnataka High Court said that the courts had not been set up for want of funds.

Very meagre amount

The idea of Grama Nyalayala was good, but the money allocated for the project was
meagre.

More funds are needed to create infrastructure, purchase a vehicles and appoint special judges and pay their salaries. The State government should allocate matching grants, to the amount sanctioned by the Centre, for setting up of the court and ensuring its smooth functioning.

High Court sent a proposal regarding the expenditure to the State government, which assured funds but never sanctioned it, sources said.

The Union government had assured initial funding for construction of court buildings and purchase of vehicles. The State government had stated that it has released Rs. 24.5 lakh for establishment of the two new courts, but it remained on paper.

These courts would try criminal cases, civil suits, claims or disputes that are specified in the first schedule and the second schedule to the Gram Nyayalaya Act and would exercise the powers of both criminal and civil courts.

The rural court would be the court of judicial magistrate of the first class (JMFC) and its presiding officer, Nyayadhikari, would be appointed by the State government in consultation with the High Court.

The Nyayadhikaris would be “strictly judicial officers” and have the same powers as first class magistrates working under High Courts.

Proposed to be established for every panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous panchayats at intermediate level in a district, these nyayalayas would go to villages, work there and dispose of the cases.

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