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  Jan 06, 2021


Q. What are Gram Nyayalayas? 

Gram Nyayalayas are established under the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 for speedy and easy access to justice system in the rural areas of India . 

  • The Law Commission of India in its 114th report recommended the establishment of Gram Nyayalayas for providing speedy, substantial and inexpensive justice.
  • Subsequently, the Parliament of India passed the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 providing for its establishment.

Q. What is its Composition?

  • They are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, appointed by the State Government in consultation with the High court , who will have the same power, enjoy same salary and benefits of a Judicial Magistrate of First Class. 
  • Such Nyayadhikari are to be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.
  • It shall be established for every Panchayat at the intermediate level or a group of contiguous Panchayats at the intermediate level in a district.

Q. What is its Jurisdiction?

  1. Section 3(1) of the Act, it is for the State Governments to establish Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts.
  2. A Gram Nyayalaya have jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.
  3. The Act authorizes the Gram Nyayalaya to hold mobile court outside its headquarters.
  4. They have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offences.
  5. Gram Nyayalayas has been given power to accept certain evidences which would otherwise not be acceptable under Indian Evidence Act.
Gram Nyayalayas – Civilsdaily

Q. What are the features of the Gram Nyayalayas?

Decentralisation of justice system : The State Government, after consultation with the High Court, may, by notification, establish one or more Gram Nyayalayas for every Panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous Panchayats at intermediate level in a district or where there is no Panchayat at intermediate level in any State, for a group of contiguous Gram Panchayats.

The Gram Nyayalaya shall exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction in the manner and to the extent provided under this Act.

Nyayadhikari : 

  • The State Government shall, in consultation with the High Court, appoint a Nyayadhikari for every Gram Nyayalaya. A person to be appointed as a Nyayadhikari is eligible to be appointed as a Judicial Magistrate of the first class.
  • For Nyayadhikari, representation shall be given to the members of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, women and such other classes or communities as may be specified by notification, by the State Government from time to time.
  • The salary and other allowances payable to, and the other terms and conditions of service of, a Nyayadhikari shall be such as may be applicable to the Judicial Magistrate of the first class.

Appointment : The State Government shall determine the nature and categories of the officers and other employees required to assist a Gram Nyayalaya in the discharge of its functions and provide the Gram Nyayalaya with such officers and other employees as it may think fit.

Judgement : The judgment passed by a Gram Nyayalaya shall be deemed to be a decree and it shall be executed by a Gram Nyayalaya as a decree of the civil court and for this purpose, the Gram Nyayalaya shall have all the powers of a civil court.

  • The Gram Nyayalaya shall not be bound by the procedure in respect of execution of a decree as provided in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and it shall be guided by the principles of natural justice.
  • In every suit or proceeding, endeavor shall be made by the Gram Nyayalaya in the first instance, consistent with the nature and circumstances of the case, to assist, persuade and conciliate the parties in arriving at a settlement.

Appeal : An appeal shall lie from judgment or order of a Gram Nyayalaya to the District Court in case of civil cases and Sessions Court in criminal cases.

Establishment : Gram Nyayalaya are established generally at headquarter of every Panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous panchayat in a district where there is no panchayat at intermediate level.

Q. What are the issues in it?

Lack of enforcement  : The Act mandated setting up of 5,000 village courts . But only 172 have been set up. Of these, 152 are functional. Only nine states have notified gram nyayalayas and of these nine states, only four have functional courts. It shows lack of enforcement of act.

  • The major reason behind the non-enforcement includes financial constraints, reluctance of lawyers, police officials and other State functionaries to invoke jurisdiction of Gram Nyayalayas.

Location issues : They are generally located at cities and towns which doesn’t provide any utility to villagers.

Financial constraints : Establishing courts at each one of the 260,000 gram panchayats would involve huge expenditure by state governments. Therefore, it was decided that gram nyayalayas would have jurisdiction over more than one panchayat. That is how the Centre decided to set up 5,000 gram nyayalayas. Still finance is the main stumbling block. 

Lack of infrastructure

  • Like buildings, office spaces and related equipment
  • Lack of man-power resources, notaries, stamp vendors etc. at sub-district level

Ill-defined jurisdiction :

  • There is ambiguity and confusion regarding the specific jurisdiction of Gram Nyayalayas, due to the existence of alternative forums such as labour courts, family courts, etc.

Negligible dispensation of cases :  The number of cases disposed by Gram Nyayalayas is negligible and that they do not make any substantial difference in the overall pendency in the subordinate courts.


Way forward :

Specific jurisdiction : Clearly specifying the jurisdiction of Gram Nyayalayas and re-defining it to remove any ambiguities.

Regular cadre : Law commission also mooted idea of  establishing a regular cadre of Gram Nyayadhikaris. 

Simplified process : Conducting procedures in local language and with simpler procedures

Awareness : Creating awareness amongst stakeholders via seminars, press releases etc.

Accessibility : Establishing permanent Gram Nyayalayas at the intermediate level in a suitable location proving easy access to the common people.

Infrastructure : Providing proper infrastructural building, staff etc. and provisioning them in the state budget.

It has the potential to reduce the pendency of cases at higher levels. The policy makers need to review, reflect and act upon the suggestions offered by stakeholders and firmly resolve to fulfil the mandate of the Act by addressing its various lacunas.