Panchayati Raj Day: How Bihar’s village courts will ease the litigation burden of the judiciary

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As India celebrates its Panchayati Raj Day today, the Bihar Village Court or Ghulam Khachari presented some exciting statistics regarding grassroots democracy empowerment and women’s participation. According to a study compiled by Chairman Panchathi Raj, between 2021 and her 2023, he will solve 87% of cases, reduce the burden on the judiciary, and assist various Panchathi Raj institutions (PRI). Female participation in levels helped her exceed her 50% quota. , Patna, Chanakya National Law University (CNLU).

Village courts have emerged as the seedbed of Bihar's judicial system and are examples of successful community governance.  (Document photo)
Village courts have emerged as the seedbed of Bihar’s judicial system and are examples of successful community governance. (Document photo)

The state has set up such courts in every panchayat to resolve local disputes with the involvement of local residents.

“The study found that 87% of ‘diwani’ (civil) and ‘fauzdari’ (criminal) cases filed with the Gram Kachaharis will be resolved between 2021 and 2023, while only 10% to 15% of cases will end in session. It points out that it has landed in the court of judges or deputy judges on appeals.A very high percentage of cases are resolved at the Gram-Kachahari level to reduce the burden of justice,” said CNLU, Patna. , said Prof. SP Singh, Principal Professor of Panchayati Raj.

“Village courts, where lawyers are barred from appearing, have emerged as the seedbed of the justice system in Bihar, where the administration of neighborhood courts has become a priority to save time and money for the rural poor by delivering justice. It’s a success story, on their doorstep,” he said.

West Champaran filed 4,332 civil cases followed by Darbhanga with 4,195 civil cases. In West Champaran he had 3,143 sanctions, while in Darbanga he had 3,781 sanctions. Similarly, in criminal cases, Darbanga topped the list with 5,033 criminal cases filed in his two years, of which 4,447 were processed. In West Champaran he had 3,024 of his 3,143 criminal cases filed.

Mr Singh said the most important task of Ghulam Khachahari is to bring about amicable dispute resolution pursuant to Section 102 of the Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 2006. Upcoming animosity between parties. India’s Supreme Court also recently emphasized resolving petty issues through mediation.

A total of 75,860 Diwani lawsuits were filed statewide in 2021-22 and 2022-23, according to research. Of these, 65,823 were disposed of during the same period. Similarly, between 2021-22 and his 2022-23, a total of 67,472 Fauzdari cases of him were filed, of which 59,070 were processed concurrently. “In Maoist-influenced areas, we have seen a significant decline in Maoist activity where the Gulam Khachaharis are functioning in a proper manner,” he added.

Ms Singh also said village courts have also helped significantly increase women’s participation in the PRI. “Bihar was the first state to give a woman a reservation of 50% of her, and village courts have helped women’s participation exceed quotas at various levels of her PRI.” He said. Ghulam Khachaharis has 50 percent of his women as local mediators, who help connect locals with the system and restore confidence in the fair sex, he added.

The CNLU statistics were provided by the Panchayati Raj Division along with the Bihar government’s response to a petition for a warrant filed by the National Social Federation for speedy justice.

Under the Bihar Panchayat Raj Act, 2006, members of Gram Kachahari are elected on an adult franchise basis in accordance with Article 326 of the Indian Constitution. Since the members of the gram-kachahari do not have professional degrees to deal with legal matters, the Act appoints one law graduate in each gram-kachahari as a Nyaya Mitra under section 94 of the Act. It stipulates that intermediate passers will be appointed as Gram Khachahari secretaries. Provisions exist in this law to give training to all elected members in their functions and responsibilities.

Pursuant to the 2006 Bihar Panchayati Raj Act, the government must provide training to members of village courts, including sarpanch, up-sarpanch and their members and secretaries. Bihar Gram Kachahari Conduct Rules, 2007, reduce certain types of lawsuits and address them at the panchayat level itself through mutual understanding and goodwill without police or court involvement. We regularly conduct training in cooperation with departments.

Under this law, Gurham Khachahari and the bench of five Panchas must file criminal or civil proceedings before hearing it. Gram Kachahari is authorized to act under the 40 bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Bengal Gambling Act of 1867 and Sections 24 and 26 of the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act of 1871, Couldn’t act. In a desirable way because it is not accepted within the administration.

Amod Kumar Nilala, president of the Bihar Panch Saarpanch Association, said training of village arbitrators has seen a variety of provisions to help them resolve small disputes and prevent them from snowballing into bigger problems. “Without the training, things weren’t so well organized, even when we were prepared,” he added.

Rupam Devi, a female Sarpanch from Saharsa who holds the second term post, said women are also confident to approach the village courts. “The issues are related to land and family disputes and, in some cases, criminal cases. We are trying to resolve the dispute,” she added.

Retired District Judge Kumar Vijay Singh said the mechanism and focus of Ghlam Kachachari is to ensure compromise at various levels, starting with Sarpanch where the lawsuit was first filed. “If a case is not resolved, a five-member bench is formed, and dissatisfied parties can appeal before a larger seven-member bench. A party may appeal to a session judge for criminal cases or to a magistrate judge for civil disputes, but the first priority should be to settle the matter amicably at the village court level. It’s a solution,” he added.

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