Report No. 154
Issue No. 6-Disposal of Certain Cases By Nyaya Panchayat
Views of Judges
Only six Judges have responded to the issue saying that Nyaya Panchayats are unable to give a fair trial to the accused person. Members of Nyaya Panchayat usually are not educated and do not know the basics of law and its procedure. They themselves are the Prosecutors and Judges. Due to growing political rivalry in the villages, if injustice is caused to the accused, instead of going in revision, the accused may seek justice in streets, which will disturb the whole system. Abandonment of jury system in India is proof positive that adjudicatory power should not be entrusted to any forum other than judiciary. Seven judges nave replied in the negative.
Seventeen judicial officers have supported the proposal saying that petty offences like those punishable under sections 323, 337, 338, 441, 442, 447, 352, I.P.C., theft of property worth less than Rs. 500, Cattle Trespass Act etc. may be referred to Nyaya Panchayats. However, Twenty-two officers apprehended that it will not be feasible to refer any of the cases to Nyaya Panchayat due to groupism of people in the villages. Five officers have not responded to the issue. The Institute of Judicial Training & Research (U.P.) Lucknow has offered no comments.
Views of Advocates/Government Pleaders/Bar Associations
Three Advocates did not agree with the proposal and say that it is not advisable as the rural setting is still not free from factions and prejudices, which are not conducive for administration of justice by Nyaya Panchayat. One is satisfied with the existing system. Whereas one Advocate is in favour of disposal of cases by Nyaya Panchayat. Seven Advocates are silent on the issue. According to the Madras Bar Association the caste factor and political lineage are rampant in villages, therefore, it should not be done.
Views of Academicians
Dr. K.N. Chandrasekharan Pillai has not supported empowering Nyaya Panchayats to deal with criminal cases. Other academicians have not touched upon the issue.
Views of Police Officers
Shri H.J. Dora. I.P.S. and Shri C. Anjaneya Reddy have responded and feel that the proposed amendment may be considered. Other police officers have not responded.
The State Law Commissions
The Himachal Pradesh Law Commission is of the opinion that cases of trivial nature may be entrusted to Nyaya Panchayats with a rider that it should have no power to inflict the punishment of imprisonment. The amount of fine should not exceed Rs. 500.
Views of the State Governments
Only Government of Gujarat has responded by saying that such cases should initially be referred to Nyaya Panchayat and if Nyaya Panchayat records a finding to the effect that it is not possible to arrive at an amicable settlement or compromise, those may be sent to the criminal court. It has proposed to confer judicial powers in Nyaya Panchayat only to record the compromise.