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Report No. 114

5.19. Training of lay Judges to articulate their approach.-

To articulate the approach of the Gram Nyayalaya both to the subject-matter of litigation and the litigants as well as the method of disposal of causes and controversies, it is absolutely necessary that initial training should be imparted not only to the Panchayati Raj Judges but also to the members of the panel. All the three of them should be imparted basic training in creating a new atmosphere in the forum where all formal technical approach must be eschewed. A voluntary conciliatory effort should start the proceedings and all attempts must be made to narrow down the differences between the parties. Every attempt must be made to resolve the dispute by conciliation and consensus.

The Panchayati Raj Judges should assist in imparting information about the relevant point of law, social justice approach, non-formal disposal of causes and deprofessionalised atmosphere. Members of the panel should be imparted training in decision making process free from prejudices of caste, community, colour, sex or religion. They must be acquainted with fundamental approach to justice, namely, that the weak and less fortunate should not be the victims of class exploitation. The training may extend to a period of three months. A re-orientation course about the change in pattern of law, sociology of law, object and purpose behind justice system would be of immense assistance to the members of the proposed forum.

The Law Commission, in its Fifty-ninth Report (1974), stressed that in dealing with disputes concerning the family, the court ought to adopt an approach radically different from that adopted in ordinary civil proceedings and that it should make reasonable efforts at settlements before the commencement of the trial. Accordingly, the Code of Civil Procedure was amended in 1976 when provision was made for a special procedure to be adopted in suits or proceedings relating to matters concerning the family, vide Order XXXIIA. Rule 3 of this order provides that the court will make an endeavour to assist the parties in arriving at a settlement in family disputes specified therein and rule 4 provides that the court may secure assistance of a welfare expert. However, the experience has shown that not much use has been made of this conciliation procedure except in the State of Himachal Pradesh1.

In this context, it is worthwhile to take notice of the enactment of the Family Courts Act which provides for courts with different orientation to function in a different environment so that a conciliatory approach with a view to resolving disputes is effectively adopted. The atmosphere in such a court at the conciliation stage, will be just informal and the procedure will not be governed by any rigid rules. This approach will have to be adopted by the Gram Nyayalaya as the Village Community is also like a family which is to be preserved by not straightway resorting to adversary approach. When we visited Jaipur, we had the opportunity of holding discussions at length with the Presiding Judge of the first family court, and perhaps the only (so far), established in the country.

His experience has been that he could resolve various disputes at mediatory level. Wherever he could not success at mediatory level, he dealt with them at adversary level in the presence of welfare experts and other socially-oriented members of the society. Further, wherever we went, we noticed that the system of Lok Adalats had gained momentum. As a matter of fact, initially there was some confusion in the minds of the participants regarding the difference between Lok Adalats and the forum proposed by us.

We had to explain that the Lok Adalats function only upto mediatory level whereas the forum proposed by us would also take over at adversary level like any other court. We feel that the people, in general, are in favour of conciliatory, approach at the initial stages. As such, we strongly recommend that the approach of Gram Nyayalaya should be mediatory at the initial stages except in regular criminal proceedings where save the compoundable offences trial has to be held. Offence being an injury done to society there is hardly any question of conciliation.

The successful functioning of Gram Nyayalaya would depend upon the approach of the members of Gram Nyayalaya. Proper training of the members of Gram Nyayalaya towards cultivating this approach is a must. Such training could comprise of subjects like method of hearing cases, attempted conciliation and resolution of disputes by compromise and training in the decision-making process. The lay Judges in particular should be taught that they should conform to the principles of natural justice. Justice equity and good conscience should guide their deliberations and decisions. They should also be informed that wherever possible, all endeavour should be made at reconciliation between the parties and eradicate the causes of disputes and thus pave the way for better relationships.

In teleological terms, education is denned as preparation for life, not for earning a living, while training is understood to have always a vocational purpose. With particular reference to public service, education is understood to be the general preparation which a young person receives before entering public employment or at a later point in the career and directed towards the performance of the duties assigned to the individual1. Pre-service and inservice training even for higher qualified persons have been found to be of considerable importance. In 1973, President of All India Panchayat Parishad vociferously advocated 'the need for imparting training to the elected representatives and the functionaries of the Panchayati Raj institutions among other things, on the principles and mechanics of democratic functioning'2.

The programme of training both pre-service and inservice for Panchayati Raj judges and lay judges is not likely to impose additional financial burden. Panchayati Raj training centres have been started and they are located in different parts of the country. These centres offer short-term courses to the members of the Nyaya Panchayat and also to other functionaries of the Panchayati Raj.3 It is only necessary to expand these training centres and to provide adequate facility for adequate training of the lay Judges.

1. U.N., 1966, p. 27.

2. M.Z. Khan Profile of a Nyaya Panchayat, (1982), p. 40.

3. Ibid.

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