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SC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Establishment Of Gram Nyayalayas [Read Petition]

2 Sep 2019 1:11 PM GMT
SC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Establishment Of Gram Nyayalayas [Read Petition]
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The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre and the States in a public interest litigation seeking proper implementation of the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 (the Act). The matter was listed before the bench of Justices NV Ramana and Ajay Rastogi.

The need for this legislation was pressed by the 114th Report of the Law Commission of India in 1986 in order to ensure access to justice for all and speedy disposal of matters. Identifying rural poor as the victims of the present judicial system, the Act was passed in 2008 to create Gram Nyayalayas at the 'grassroots level', in consonance with Article 39-A of the Constitution. However, the same has not been implemented properly till date, submitted Advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice.

The Petitioners have based their plea on the following grounds:

  1. That as per a study conducted by the National Productivity Council, only 11 states had taken steps to notify Gram Nyayalayas. Moreover, in about 50,000 blocks in the country, merely 320 Gram Nyayalayas had been notified by these 11 State Governments between 2009 and 2018, and only 204 of those were operational.
  2. That non implementation of the Act is contrary to its object of securing justice for all, irrespective of their social, economic or other disabilities.
  3. That Fundamental Right of rural citizens to 'Access to Justice' under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India as recognized by the Supreme Court in Anita Kushwaha v. Pushap Sadan, (2016) 8 SCC 509, was in sheer violation.
  4. That litigations related to anganwadi workers, payment of wages under MNREGA, etc. were specific to the rural citizens and failure to establish Gram Nyayalays and Mobile Courts under Section 3 and 9 of the Act respectively, deprived such citizens of access to justice.
  5. That in Dilip Kumar Basu v. State of West Bengal, 2015 8 SCC 744, the Apex Court had, in view of access to justice for all, refused to treat the word 'may' as optional and directed all states to mandatorily establish State Human Rights Commission. Therefore, Section 3 of the Act which states that State Governments 'may' constitute Gram Nyayalayas must also be interpreted in a similar manner to redress the violation of Article 14 & 21 rights of citizens at large.
  6. That the Gram Nyayalaya Act casts a statutory duty on the State to provide 'access to justice' and the Apex Court had held in Mansukhlal Vithaldas Chauhan v. State of Gujarat, (1997) 7 SCC 622, that mandamus may be issued to "compel performance of public duties which may be administrative, ministerial or statutory in nature".
  7. That despite infrastructural issues in the meager number of Gram Nyayalayas that were functional, the rural population were largely satisfied with finally having 'access to justice' and there has been a strong support for these establishments at the grassroots level.

The Petitioners have also sought directions to the Central government to provide adequate financial support for these establishments, over and above what has been provided for under the Scheme for Central Assistance. 

Click Here To Download Petition

[Read Petition]

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