Open mind on setting up Bench, says Bannurmath

Staff Reporter

Questionnaire to FRAT, Bar association

Decision to be based on Jaswant Singh panel criteria

Plan to set up rural courts in State

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala High Court has an open mind on setting up a Bench in the capital city, Chief Justice S.R. Bannurmath said here on Tuesday.

The Chief Justice, who was in the city, along with Kurien Joseph, judge, told presspersons that a decision on the matter would be taken based on the criteria prescribed by the Jaswant Singh committee. The criteria included number of cases, cultural difference between districts and the distance from the High Court.

“But we are not going to insist on all the criteria,” said the Chief Justice. A questionnaire based on the criteria had been issued to the Federation of Residents Association, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Thiruvananthapuram Bar Association for their feedback, he said.

The Chief Justice said a meeting of the presidents of all the 152 block panchayats across the State would be convened at the High Court on August 29 to discuss the feasibility of establishing rural courts. If there was necessary backing from the block panchayats and the State government, the initiative could be started this year, he said. For a State with nearly 11 lakh petitions pending at various courts, the constitution of rural courts was expected to reduce the backlog by about five lakh.

The initiative would realise the dream of taking justice to the doorsteps of people, Mr. Bannurmath said.

The rural courts headed by a ‘Nyayadhikari’ (authority on law), equivalent to the rank of a munsiff magistrate, would have the power to settle disputes and sentence the guilty up to a period of two years in prison.

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