Press Releases Archive

Accessible, Affordable and Speedy Justice to the Common Man

Setting up of Local Courts/Gram Nyayalayas in India

Here is a snapshot of milestone events leading to the passing of the historic Gram Nyayalayas Bill (2008) by the Rajya Sabha on December 17th, 2008:

Time Milestone
August, 1997
  • Lok Satta Movement formed for ushering in fundamental democratic reforms in India. Its key goals include establishment of local courts for speedy, accessible and affordable justice (on August 3rd, 1997).
  • Lok Satta immediately launches pan-Indian advocacy-cum-communication campaign on the issue.

February, 2003
  • Lok Satta presents the draft AP Sthanika Nyayalaya Bill (2003) to the AP Bar Association.
  • Lok Satta brings together leading jurists, civil society activists, reputed academicians and (fmr) administrators on a common platform to push forward the agenda. (February 12th, 2003, Hyderabad)
  • Lok Satta, in consultation with the luminaries above, prepares the draft AP Nagar Nyayalaya Bill (2003) (February 25th, 2003)
April, 2005 Dr. JP (on behalf of Lok Satta) makes a presentation on Access to Speedy Justice to the National Advisory Council (NAC); submits the draft Local Courts Bill (April 21st, 2005).
July, 2005
  • NAC accepts the draft Local Courts Bill submitted by Lok Satta and submits it to the Union Government.
  • Union Law Minister HR Bharadwaj announces the Gram Nyayalayas Bill, 2005 (formerly Local Courts Bill)

November, 2005 Dr. JP (on behalf of Lok Satta) proposes key revisions to the Gram Nyayalayas Bill (2005) incorporating major amendments with respect to the functional and territorial jurisdiction and improving access and justice delivery to the common citizens.

December, 2005 NAC accepts Lok Satta’s amendments and communicates the same to the Union Government (December 7th, 2005).

May, 2007
  • Government accepts the recommendations of the NAC on Gram Nyayalayas; comes up with draft Gram Nyayalayas Bill (2007)
  • Draft bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha and referred to the EM Sudarsana Natchiappan-led Standing Committee.
  • Committee recommends key changes in the draft Bill to the Union Cabinet; Cabinet accepts amendments and prepares revised version.
  • Lok Satta closely involved in all stages involving drafting and amending draft bill.

December, 2008
  • Gram Nyayalayas Bill (2008) passed by Rajya Sabha (December 17th, 2008; Bill XLVII of 2008)
  • To be passed by the Lok Sabha.
Friday, December 19, 2008 - 22:01

Village Courts Bill Historic: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today termed the passage of the Gram Nyayalaya Bill 2008 by the Rajya Sabha as historic in that it seeks to restore the culture of the rule of law which is becoming gradually extinct.

Addressing the media, Dr. JP pointed out that poor rural and urban people have not been able to access courts because of barriers posed by costs, distance, language and procedural difficulties. Under the proposed legislation, judges of the rank of first class judicial magistrates will themselves go to the people, conduct the proceedings in the local language and dispose of the cases on the spot. The absence of such a system for disposal of small offences or disputes at the grassroots level has emboldened perpetrators of small offences to mature into big time offenders. It has also made perjury (lying under oath) all pervasive. The advent of grama nyayalayas will reduce, if not eliminate, perjury as the guilty will think twice before lying in the presence of co-villagers.

Dr. JP recalled that the Lok Satta movement had been seeking the formation of local courts ever since it took birth in August 1997. It had in consultation with jurists and other experts in Andhra Pradesh prepared a draft Bill in February 2003. The National Advisory Council, of which Dr. JP was a member, accepted the draft Bill prepared by the Lok Satta in 2005. The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill yesterday. Dr. JP hoped the Lok Satta too would adopt the Bill soon and make justice accessible to people at their doorstep.

Dr. JP referred to the unconscionably large number of cases pending in courts all over the country and said, “Justice delayed is justice denied”. He cited how the killer of Jyotirmoy, a Telugu student in Birmingham, was sentenced to life imprisonment within seven months of the offence taking place whereas it took more than seven years for the court to award its punishment in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case.

Referring to the Pranahita-Chevella lift irrigation scheme, which Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy has been defending as essential to turn Telangana green, Dr. JP demanded that the Central Water Commission review all the big lift irrigation projects taken up by the Andhra Pradesh Government. Even according to the Chief Minister’s own admission, the capital cost of irrigating an acre under the Pranahita-Chevella scheme costs Rs.2.5 lakh. The recurring expenditure of supplying water per year works out to Rs.30,000, not to take into account the farmer’s investment in raising a crop. How could agriculture be remunerative in such a context, asked Dr. JP.

Dr. JP said that the Pranahita-Chevella would be a white elephant and not a “Kamadhenuvu”, as is being claimed by the Chief Minister. If the same amount was spent on tapping water in streams and rivulets, and on small lift irrigation projects, 20 lakh acres can be irrigated.

Dr. JP said the skewed priorities of the Andhra Pradesh Government could be gauged from the fact that a woman had tried to sell her just-delivered baby at Hanamkonda as she could not take care of it and yet earn her livelihood as a daily wage worker. The mother of two children had been deserted by her drunkard husband.

Friday, December 19, 2008 - 17:34

Former DGP joins Lok Satta

Mr. Devendranath Pandey, a retired Director General of Police of West Bengal now settled in Hyderabad, today joined the Lok Satta Party.

Inducting him into the party’s Working Committee, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party President, said that Mr. Pandey’s joining the party underlined the quest for change that is evident among youth and middle classes in the country. Having been fed up with traditional parties which had failed the country, more and more number of people throughout the country are looking for a meaningful alternative that will change the nature of politics.

Mr. Pandey, a post-graduate from Allahabad University, joined Indian Police Service in 1956. He had the reputation of fighting against corruption and political interference in administration.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 - 09:32

Will Dr. JP face contest?

Will there be a contest to the post of the President of the Lok Satta Party, now being held by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan?

It seems likely, going by the party’s State Election Authority’s disclosure today that three sets of nomination had been collected by party workers. Nominations will be accepted on December 24 and 25, 2008.

Elections to leadership at all levels of the party are due to take place by secret ballot during January 4-7, 2009. The election results will be declared on January 9. 2009.

Talking to the media, Mr. P. S. Bhagawanlu, Mr. K. Madhusudhana Rao, Mr. M. Satyanarayana and Mrs. A. Annapurna, members of the Election Authority, said returning officers are being trained in conducting the elections in which nearly 500000 ordinary members and 70000 active members are expected to exercise their franchise.

It is for the first time in the history of political parties that organization elections to elect presidents and other office-bearers from the mandal to the State level are taking place directly and that too through secret ballot.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - 09:20

GHMC succumbed to blackmail, Charges Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today termed the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation succumbing to religious pressure in agreeing to reconstruct a demolished temple obstructing traffic at Kothi here as a disgrace.

Lok Satta Party’s Working Committee members Laxman Balaji and N. Ravinder told the media that while the Constitution guarantees every one the right to worship the God of his or her choice, it does not permit construction of places of worship in the midst of roads and obstructing traffic much to the inconvenience of all road users. “No scripture says that the best place for worshipping God is in the midst of a road”, they said and added it was an insult to God and the to the faith people adhere to.

The Lok Satta said that the Government was duty bound to remove all such encroachments irrespective the religion to which they belong.

By agreeing to reconstruct the temple and suspending officials for undertaking the demolition, the authorities succumbed to religious blackmail, said the leaders. They also condemned the Sangh Pariwar for resorting to violence and obstructing officials from discharging their duty.

They accused the Government of interfering in religion by subsidizing Muslims’ travel to Haj initially and now Christians’ for places associated with Jesus Christ to serve their narrow vote bank politics. “One need not be surprised if a future Government subsidizes travel to Hindu places of worship like Kasi and Tirupati.”

The Lok Satta recalled that the Mulayam Singh Government had to withdraw its order declaring Friday a weekly holiday in its bid to placate Muslims when Muslims said they were interested in education, health care and job skills and opportunities and not a Friday holiday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 14:25

Pages