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.1
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
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
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
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.