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Report No. 114

6.8. Procedure in Civil Proceedings.-

A simple procedure has to be devised. Its specific stages can be briefly narrated here. Whoever has a complaint or a dispute falling within the jurisdiction of Gram Nyayalaya must go to the office of the Gram Nyayalaya and fill in a simple form stating the name and address of the complainant, the name and address of the opponent/respondent, brief statement of the nature of the dispute and how the dispute emanated. If the person having a grievance can fill in the form, the office of the Gram Nyayalaya must provide him with a form, and if he is illiterate, he must be assisted by the office of the Gram Nyayalaya in filling in the form. The same should be placed before the Presiding Judge within 24 hours. A notice accompanied by a copy of the complaint should be served upon the opposite side.

If the dispute brooks no delay, the Gram Nyayalaya will be entitled to pass ex'parte interim prohibitory orders to be enforced within one week within which the Nyayalaya must visit the site and then determine in the presence of both sides whether to continue the interim order for a further period or not. For the final hearing as stated earlier, the Nyayalaya shall ordinarily meet at the situs of the dispute. Having assembled as herein indicated, it may inform the parties there and then as to the nature of the dispute, briefly hear the witnesses and if the lawyers appear on either side, allow a very brief cross-examination and make a short note of it.

If lawyers so think, they may make submissions for a period not exceeding a few minutes. If possible, the decision must be rendered there and then. Whatever documents are produced, must be accepted. If any extract from the Government records kept at village level are necessary, the officer in charge of the village records must be sent advance intimation to remain present with the same and he should be asked to supply the records if the Nyayalaya needs the same. The decision of the Nyayalaya will be governed by the principle of justice, equity and good conscience.

The Presiding Judge of the Gram Nyayalaya must control the cross-examination of the witnesses and confine it to specific issues and directly relevant to the point under consideration and should not permit any rambling or fishy examination. In fact, it must be kept as a time bound programme. It will be open to the Gram Nyayalaya to accept affidavits in lieu of oral evidence, if the party so chooses to give. It shall not condemn anyone unheard and minimum principles of natural justice shall be observed in the trial of the disputes brought before it. By minimum principles of natural justice is meant that (1) no one shall be condemned unheard, and (2) no one shall be a judge in his own cause.

The decision will always be informed by justice, equity and good conscience. At the end of the trial, if the decision is not by consensus between the parties, the Presiding Judge shall draw a brief statement of the dispute, the evidence led, the decision and tht reasons in support of the decision. It shall be signed by all the three Judges. In the event of a difference of opinion, the decision of the majority will be binding. On a question of law, the view expressed by the Presiding Judge shall be binding on the lay Judges.

If it appears to the Gram Nyayalaya while conducting the proceedings before it that the case is one which ought to have been tried by a different court and for which it has no jurisdiction, it may make over the same to the District Court having jurisdiction for transfer of the same to the court having jurisdiction to try the same. Similarly, if some other court has a proceeding before it which ought to be tried by Gram Nyayalaya, the court will forward that proceeding to the District Court having jurisdiction who would transfer it to the Gram Nyayalaya having jurisdiction to deal with the same.

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