Report No. 114
5.17. Educational and other qualifications.-
Diverse views were expressed on the minimum qualification, the lay judges should have. It was said that the lay judges should have minimum education, and must be men of integrity, character and responsibility. Ordinarily, active members of political parties, wealthy persons, big farmers and money-lenders should be excluded from consideration. Members of the depressed and deprived classes, should have preference. Persons belonging to teaching profession, social workers, office bearer of nongovernmental, social service organisations should be encouraged to be on the panel. One speaker remarked that they must be within the age group of 25 to 60.
In the matter of educational qualification it was said that a degree holder must be preferred but if not available the selectee must have passed Higher Secondary school examination. Winners of national awards if residents in the villages, must be preferred. One view was that local residents belonging to professions or in service would perform their duties more satisfactorily, compared to marginal farmers, petty shop-owners and the like. Residence in the area for at least 260 days in a year would make the person eligible for being put on panel. Some social activists submitted that educational qualification would be counter-productive and if prescribed, 75% of local population would be excluded from consideration.
Is there any justification for prescribing educational qualification? There is no doubt that the cases which the proposed Gram Nyayalaya would deal with are not likely to be complicated and the procedure they would be required to follow in such cases would be simple. Education enlarges vision, broadens outlook, enriches values and generally develops personality. A programme of training them into decision making process is to be prescribed. They must be able to weigh the evidence put before them. For all these reasons, it is desirable that they must possess some educational qualification.
As observed by the study Team on Nyaya Panchayats1 conditions in India are not the same as in every part of the country and these vary considerably from place to place. While it may be possible to secure law graduates to man these courts in some parts, it may not be possible to procure persons even with elementary qualification in certain backward areas. Apart from this, villagers tend to migrate to urban areas even with elementary qualification.
On an overall consideration, the safe middle course is to prescribe a graduate degree as a qualification failing which those who have obtained higher secondary school examination certificate would be eligible. Educational qualification may be prescribed as a desirable and not as minimum qualification. In the matter of selection of persons from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward communities and women, educational qualification may be dispensed with if adequate number of persons with educational qualifications are not available. Persons to be selected should preferably be within the age group of 30-65.
1. Report of the Study Team on Nyaya Panchayats, p. 63.