Chapter 9

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THE JUDICIARY


The judicial system introduced by the British Government in India has worked havoc in the socio-economic life of the country. The panchayat used to decide civil and criminal cases speedily and on the spot. False witness and perjury before the panchayat were regarded as the greatest sins. Justice was cheap and fair. Modern courts, on the contrary, are very expensive; even very ordinary cases are disposed of only after months, if not years. The complicated judicial procedure promotes endless dishonesty and falsehood. Hosts of lawyers with their network of touts in village have bled the rural folk white by draining away crores of rupees every year through degrading and useless litigation. Perjury and false witness are now current coins; truth and honesty are at a discount. Thus, the British judicial system, instead of improving public morality has been directly instrumental in degenerating it beyond measure. The sooner, therefore, we bid goodbye to the system, the better for us and the nation.
 
Even a highly reactionary Governor like Sir Maurice Hallett recently observed, "I often think that the policy of the Government of India took a wrong turn when it insisted on centralising its administration. The old system whereby the village was, more or less, responsible for its own organisation was lost sight of and I think India has suffered accordingly. The Government in its desire for regimented systems on stereotyped lines has set up institutions such as magisterial courts on western lines and has forgotten that much of this work could have been better and more aptly conducted within the village itself. I would like to see every village or in a group of small villages, a panchayat set up with powers to settle all minor disputes, whether they be of criminal, civil or revenue nature."
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9.1 Village Courts
The gram panchayats shall be entrusted with the dispensing of justice; no separate judicial panchayats are necessary. The poor peasant need not go out of his village, spend hard-earned money and waste weeks and months in towns on litigation. He can get all the necessary witnesses in the village and fight out his own case without being exploited by lawyers. When intricate points of law arise, a sub-judge from the Taluka or district could come down to the village and assist the panchayat in deciding difficult cases. The sub-judge shall also act as a guide, friend and philosopher to the ignorant villagers by acquainting them with the laws of the state. Such a judicial system will not only be simple, prompt and cheap but also ‘just’ because the details of civil and criminal cases will be, more or less, open secrets in the village and there shall be hardly any scope for fraud and legal juggleries.
 
9.2 District Courts
Since the village panchayats shall enjoy extensive civil and criminal powers in judicial matters, it will be unnecessary to have taluka courts. In special cases, appeals from the villages could directly be made to the district courts. Disputes in towns shall also originate in these district courts. The judges should be completely independent of the district executive officers. They shall be appointed by the district pachayats, and shall be irremovable during terms of office and good behaviour.
 
9.3 High Courts
In very exceptional cases, appeals from district courts shall be allowed before high courts. The judges of the high courts will be appointed by the provincial panchayat. They shall be completely independent of the executive, holding office for life and during good behaviour.
 
9.4 Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India will be highest judicial authority in the country. Its functions shall be:
 
a. to hear appeals from the High Courts.
 
b. to decide original cases arising out of disputes between the federating units regarding constitutional matters.
 
c. to religiously safeguard the interests of minorities by enforcing strict observance of the fundamental rights as specified in the Constitution.
 
The judges shall be appointed by the All-India panchayat. They shall be men of the highest merit and character absolutely free from communalism or party politics, holding office for life and during good behaviour.
 
9.5 Revision of Law
The existing civil and criminal laws are foreign to the Indian soil; they are too complex and cumbersome. They will, therefore, have to be thoroughly revised under the new constitution. A special committee of experts may be appointed for the purpose by the Indian Constituent Assembly.

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