Over 3 years lapsed, J&K fails to make any progress on establishing Gram Nyayalayas

ARTEEV SHARMA. Updated: 3/18/2023 2:41:24 AM Front Page

Centre says ‘lack of manpower, overlapping jurisdiction with regular courts’ among major reasons for delay

Jammu: Even three and a half years after the applicability of the Central Act in Jammu and Kashmir, the UT administration is yet to build any progress on making 20 Gram Nyayalayas--deemed to be a Court of First Class Judicial Magistrate with both civil and criminal jurisdiction to settle petty disputes at the village level—operational.
The Union Ministry of Law and Justice observed that lack of manpower and overlapping jurisdiction with regular courts were among the main reasons for non-operability of Gram Nyayalayas, like other states and UTs, in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Government of India had decided to set up Gram Nyayalayas or village courts in 13 states and two newly-created Union Territories (UTs)—J&K and Ladakh—under the Gram Nyayalayas Act 2008. It was aimed at providing easy access to justice to the rural citizens at their doorsteps and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of social, economic or other disabilities.
Though the Act came into force with effect from October 2, 2009 across the country, it became applicable to Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 and as per the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
During the year 2013, the then Government of Jammu and Kashmir made efforts to establish DehiAdalats on the pattern of Gram Nyayalayas but it failed to bring positive outcome even after identification of headquarters of DehiAdalats due to lack of manpower.
“As per the information provided by the States and High Courts, the main reason for non-operability of Gram Nyayalayas is non-filling of the post of Nyayadhikari in many States, non-availability of public prosecutors, notaries and general shortage of First Class Judicial Magistrates who man these Gram Nyayalayas. Besides, the issue of overlapping jurisdiction with regular courts is another reason due to which the scheme is not taking off. Moreover, many states have their own parallel systems of village courts functioning at panchayat level,” said the Union Law Ministry while responding to a query in the Parliament.
The Union Law Ministry said it made regular correspondence with the States and High Courts concerned for taking expeditious action for making the notified Gram Nyayalayas functional. “During the regular meetings of the Central Level Monitoring Committee of the Department of Justice, the States are regularly being reminded to expedite operationalization of the notified Gram Nyayalayas,” it said.
A total of 20 Gram Nyayalayas—one each in a district--were notified for Jammu and Kashmir but none of them had been made functional in the past one decade. Consequently, not even a single penny has been released by the Union Ministry to the J&K UT. The state and UT governments were responsible for establishing Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts.
In June 2020, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of J&K UT notified that the headquarters identified for the DehiAdalats (rural courts) would be deemed to be the headquarters of the Gram Nyayalayas.
Though the Act does not make setting up of Gram Nyayalayas mandatory, a high-level panel was constituted by the Chief Justice of Common High Court of J&K and Ladakh to look into the operationalization and functioning of the Gram Nyayalayas within the jurisdictional limit of the High Court with a view to make the institution a robust and credible pillar of justice delivery system.

Updated On 3/18/2023 2:43:02 AM

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