Punjab, Chandigarh among 7 states, UTs fined for not setting up ‘Gram Nyayalayas’
The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up several states and union territories for failing to set up “Gram Nyayalayas” as per an Act passed by Parliament in 2008 to ensure access to justice for the rural poor.
A bench headed by justice NV Ramana imposed a fine of ₹1 lakh each on Assam, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana and West Bengal for not filing their responses in the apex court.
The top court asked the state and union territories to notify setting up Gram Nyayalayas within a month.
The Supreme Court had on September 2 issued notice to the Union government, states and UTs on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGOs National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice and Society for Fast Justice. The plea said directions need to be issued to all states and UTs to notify and establish “Gram Nyayalayas” as statutorily provided for under the Act.
The PIL said that only 208 “Gram Nyayalayas” are functioning in the country as against 2,500 estimated to be required by the 12th five-year plan. It said so far, only 11 states have taken steps to notify “Gram Nyayalayas”.
For the purpose of providing access to justice to 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, an Act was passed by Parliament in 2008, provided for the establishment of “Gram Nyayalayas” at the grassroots level.
Sections 5 and 6 of the Act provide that the state government in consultation with the high court will appoint a “nyayadhikari” for each “Gram Nyayalaya”, who will be a person eligible to be appointed as a judicial magistrate of the first class.