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SC seeks reply of Centre, states on plea for setting up of ‘Gram Nyayalayas’

By PTI Updated: Sep 02, 2019 10:24 pm

New Delhi, Sep. 2 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea seeking a direction to the Centre and all the states for taking steps to set up ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ under the supervision and monitoring of the apex court.

An Act, passed by Parliament in 2008, provided for establishment of ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ at the grass roots level 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.

A bench of justices N V Ramana and Ajay Rastogi issued notice and sought replies from the Centre and all the states within four weeks.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGOs ‘National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice’ and ‘Society for Fast Justice’ of Chhattisgarh, said that directions need to be issued to all the states to notify and establish Gram Nyayalayas as statutorily provided for under the Gram Nyayalays Act of 2008.

He said that 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.

Bhushan 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.

The plea by the two NGOs also sought a direction to the Centre for providing adequate financial support for setting up Gram Nyayalayas, over and above what has been provided for under the Scheme for Central Assistance first notified in 2009 and continued thereafter.

“Non-establishment of Gram Nyayalayas by the Respondent States frustrates the (a)Statutory Rights provided to citizens under the Act and (b) Constitutional Right of rural citizens to Access to Justice’ under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India as declared by this Court…”, the plea said.

It said that so far only 11 states have taken steps to notify Gram Nyayalayas.

“State governments under Section 3 of the Gram Nyayalayas Act, have been defeating the object of the Act, as Section 3 provides that State Governments ‘may’ constitute Gram Nyayalayas and thereby violating the fundamental right of citizens to ‘access to justice’ with all its facets by not constituting required Gram Nyayalayas,” it said.

It sought apex court’s direction to the respondent states to take required steps to notify and constitute Gram Nyayalayas as provided for under section 3 of the Act under the monitoring of this Court.

“The State is obligated to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of social, economic or other disabilities.

“Many rural citizens either do not litigate on their rights or face hardships as they have to travel great distances which involve great expense and the District Courts are procedurally difficult for the vast majority of rural citizens to understand,” it said.

By PTI Updated: Sep 02, 2019 10:24:52 pm