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Report No. 114

5.18. Disqualifications.-

The negative criteria may as well be prescribed to keep certain elements away from the fountain of justice. Conflicting and contradictory opinions expressed in this behalf converged on one point that as lay judges would be enjoying judicial power of the State and as Constitution of India mandates that judges should be free from political influence, active political party workers have to be excluded from consideration. In order to create confidence in common man in this age of common man, elite, wealthy persons, rich and big farmers, high pay bracket service personnel and money-lenders must be excluded from consideration. Persons convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude, economic offenders, undischarged insolvents and the like should be excluded from consideration.

The Gram Nyayalaya should be completely free from elitist approach. It must aim at rendering justice oriented by the approach of a common man. The lay judges should avoid being overwhelmed by dominant classes of the society. In an unequal fight between a member of the deprived section of the society and a well-to-do person, it must have the capacity to stand up against the power of wealth. The lay Judges should be men of character and integrity. In order to keep the forum of Gram Nyayalaya free from political skulldrugery, economic overlordship and fear from anti-social elements, it has become necessary to keep certain persons with non-too-respectable track record away from the forum.

In this age of common man, justice should not be the preserve of higher castes, dominant classes, wealthy members of the society, anti-social elements, black marketeers and hoarders and money-lenders and even higher pay bracket service personnel. If these are treated as disqualified to be selected on the panel of lay Judges, there will be a reasonable assurance that decent respectable common man belonging to the village community will find their place on the panel of lay Judges. It is their participation which is the dominant theme of this Report. Number of voluntary social service organisations have come up in the rural areas. A list of such organisations should be maintained at the district level. Their assistance may be taken in devising a suitable panel. The success of this innovation is likely to rest wholly on the selection of lay Judges. With right sort of persons the new forum will inspire immense confidence and guarantee its success.

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