A Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana of the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday had imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the government of Assam, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana and West Bengal for not filing their responses in the apex court. It had also asked the State and union territories to notify setting up Gram Nyayalayas within a month.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice, urged the Court to ask the reason for the delay in filing counters by the States. The Court then went on to impose the penalty on the erring States. The Supreme Court had on September 2 issued notice to the government at the Centre, States and UTs on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGOs National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice and Society for Fast Justice. On the last date of hearing, Bhushan submitted before the Court that there are roughly 50,000 blocks in the country where Gram Nyayalayas are to be set up. While only 320 of these are notified, only 204 such Gram Nyayalayas are in fact functioning.
- The plea said that directions need to be issued to all the States and UTs to notify and establish Gram Nyayalayas as statutorily provided for under the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008.
- The PIL said that only 208 Gram Nyayalayas are functioning in the country as against 2,500 estimated to be required by the 12th five-year plan. It said so far only 11 states have taken steps to notify Gram Nyayalayas.
- Sections 5 and 6 of the Act provide that the state government in consultation with the High Court will appoint a Nyayadhikari for each Gram Nyayalayas, who will be a person eligible to be appointed as a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class.
- For the purpose of providing access to justice to citizens at their doorsteps and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of social, economic or other disabilities, an Act was passed by Parliament in 2008, provided for the establishment of ‘Gram Nyayalayas’ at the grass-roots level.
- The plea claims that non-establishment of Gram Nyayalayas frustrates statutory rights provided to citizens under the Act as well as the constitutional right of rural citizens to access to justice under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Supreme Court today pulled up several States and Union Territories for failing to file their affidavits in the matter concerning setting up of Gram Nyayalayas in the country. The Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Krishna Murari today imposed a penalty of ₹1 lakh on the States and UTs that have failed to file their counter affidavits.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje