The UPA government’s ambitious plan to open 5,000 mobile rural courts (Gram Nyayalayas) across the country has not found favour with the majority of states, official documents show.
Six months after the Gram Nyayalaya Act, which came into force on October 2 last year, only 95 courts have come up in four states, of which merely half are functioning, law ministry figures show.
Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi strongly pitched for setting up of these courts to provide “affordable justice” to the vast majority living in villages.
However, it appears the state governments are not impressed with the Centre’s grand idea.
Only 15 of the 28 states have responded to the letters sent by the law ministry, seeking proposals for setting up the Gram Nyayalayas to bring down the mountain of three crore pending cases in lower courts.
Of the states which have responded to the proposal — Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Delhi have turned it down. In nearly similar responses, these states have stated “there is no need to set-up the Gram Nyayalayas since the existing system is effective.”
Jharkhand has formed a high level committee headed by the chief secretary of the state “to look into the matter.”
UP and West Bengal agreed to set-up these courts “subject to 100 per cent financial assistance from the Centre.”
A ministry official said the Centre has announced it will spend Rs 1,400 crore on the project. “The states response has been disappointing, but we hope to reverse the trend soon with more persuasion.”
Meghalaya and Mizoram have sought changes in the Act before implementing it.
Parliament had passed the Gram Nyayalayas Bill in 2008. The then law minister H.R. Bhardwaj had promised “complete financial aid to the states for the first three years.” The law provides for setting up of mobile courts at panchayat level, presided over by a judicial magistrate, with powers to decide on criminal and civil matters within six months.