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Report No. 114

5.13. Structure of Gram Nyayalaya.-

Opinions widely differed in the matter of structure of the proposed forum. Some of the social activists and village level workers leaned in favour of a wholly elected body. The election, according to them, may be either direct by the village community or indirect by the elected members of the local Gram Panchayat. Those reacting to the experience of present day Nyaya Panchayats advocated induction of a legally trained mind in the composition of the Gram Nyayalaya.

According to them, this would save the forum from the warth of the superior courts and will also cater to the view that a legally trained mind is available for dispensing justice. Those in favour of induction of a legally trained mind suggested the induction of a MunsifMagistrate/Civil Judge (Jr. Division)/Judicial Magistrate First Class. Some advocated retired Judges' service to be utilised in this behalf. One view of which notice must be taken was higher level Judges should man the Gram Nyayalaya so that it would inspire confidence in the litigating public.

The constitutional goal is to make justice inexpensive, easily available, non-formal and substantial. The quality of justice would depend upon the nature of the forum that will be set up to render justice. It is off-repeated occasionally with some emotional overtones that we may better be ruled by laws than by man. But the man who should rule the society in the matter of rendering justice must be men of sound commonsense, unbiased in approach, free from political compulsions, religious bigot and caste considerations. An elected body may not be able to ensure the induction of, apart from legally trained persons, such reputed socially oriented village workers.

In order, therefore, that the Gram Nyayalaya may inspire confidence in the village community, it became an imperative necessity to have a forum in which a legally trained mind will preside over the body. However, to avoid such legally trained mind approaching village disputes from a purely technical legalistic approach, it would be useful to induct two other persons who are village level workers and who are educated and socially oriented. The three should constitute Gram Nyayalaya. It would not be too unwieldy and it would have all the advantages both of state courts approach and participation of lay public in the administration of justice.

The object underlying the induction of a legally trained mind is to ensure that in rendering justice, substantive laws would be respected. There would be a sort of or some kind of continuity with the present system. The attempt is to provide an interaction between a legally trained Judge and socially oriented village workers. The forum would also allay the apprehension more imaginary than real of the superior courts in the matter of dispensation of justice.

The Gram Nyayalaya should consist of a legally trained Judge belonging to the cadre of Judges to be specifically set-up for this purpose. In order to select legally trained Judges for Gram Nyayalaya, the State shall form a Panchayati Raj cadre of Judges. They should ordinarily from part of the subordinate judiciary in the State. The Judge must have all those qualifications which he should have for being recruited as Munsif Magistrate or Civil Judge (Junior Division) and Judicial Magistrate, First Class. This to some extent ensures continuity with the present system.

The Gram Nyayalaya shall consist of thus the Panchyati Raj Judge and two lay Judges. There were suggestions to the effect that instead of two there must be four lay Judges so that the historical tradition of India of ancient antiquity 'Panch Parmeshwar' would be demonstrably carried out. The Commission is of the opinion that for a permanent continuing body, availability of five Judges on every occasion may create problems and for simple village level disputes, it would be an unwieldy body. Therefore, in order to have a compact body, the Commission opted in favour of three Judges including the Panchayati Raj Judge.

The approach of the Commission will ensure that a legally trained mind is available for dealing with questions of law if they arise while disposing of the dispute brought before the forum. He would render assistance on questions of law to the two lay Judges. The two lay Judges would bring in the wealth of local customs, traditions and knowledge of village problems. While rendering justice, there would thus be an interaction of a Judge coming from a different locality, born and brought up in a different atmosphere and having the wealth of knowledge of the law in force with the commonsense approach to dispensation of justice. The resultant outcome would ensure not only justice according to law, but justice according to commonsense, equity and good conscience. It is expected to be free from the complex procedural and Evidence Act formulations.

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