Judicial system is all set to reach the lowest level of Indian democracy - Panchayats. India would soon have gram nyalayas at the Panchayat level to dispense civil, marital and family disputes.
The Law Ministry has come up with a new legislation for setting up 2,000 gram nyalayas at the Panchayat level all over the country. The proposal formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Panchayat Raj would be discussed at the Union Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Based on the recommendations of 114th Law Commission report of 1986, the Law Ministry has drafted an elaborate legislation for setting up the courts, each having two judges, to look into all the village level disputes. "Their (judges) duties and functions have been detailed in the proposed law," a government functionary said.
The court’s to be set up at tehsil or taluk level will have jurisdiction of the panchayat and will have power to summon any document or official from the government. "It can also get the matter resolved between the two parties before starting the legal process," an official said. To make the court more people friendly, the government wants that all proceedings should be recorded in the local language.
According to government officials, the courts will look into civil disputes like encroachment, property disputes like that of water channel or of village land, family disputes like divorce, inheritance and succession, apart from other civil disputes. The pecuniary jurisdiction for civil courts would extend to Rs 2 lakh and for criminal matters, to imprisonment of up to two years. The verdict of the village courts could be challenged in the district court.
In a bid to ensure transparency in selection of judges, all appointments will be cleared by the Chief Justices of the state high courts in consultation with two more judges of the high court. A district level selection panel will short-list the panel based on the minimum qualification prescribed by the state government.
"We would like to involve more women judges," an official said, while the state governments would be asked to introduce the element of legal aid by paying for legal aid lawyers to assist the courts.
The 114th Law Commission report headed by Justice DA Desai had recommended setting up of the gram nyayalas to speed up disposal of the cases and reduce burden on sub-division level and district level courts.