KERALA

Litigation-free, legally literate village

THRISSUR, AUG. 14. Mullakkara, the 12th division of Thrissur Corporation, today became probably the first litigation-free and legally literate village in the State.

Though some other villages in the State had become litigation-free, Mullakkara has one more feather in its cap by becoming legally literate as well. The village is all set to become crime-free by December this year.

Jananeethi, a Thrissur-based non-governmental organisation, is the implementing agency for the Kerala State Legal Services Authority's programme to make the village litigation-free and legally literate.

A host of agencies and institutions, including the district administration, the Corporation, the Government Law College, Thrissur, the Department of Social Work of the Vimala College, Thrissur, St. Aloysius College and the Kerala Agricultural University, have collaborated with the Jananeethi in implementing the programme.

Lok adalats

A detailed survey was conducted to assess the socio-economic status of the 5,139 persons staying in the village as the first phase of the programme. A second survey was conducted to identify cases pending in the village. Volunteers deployed by the Jananeethi came across 1,146 cases. These cases were settled through counselling sessions and formally disposed of at the lok adalats conducted today.

The Jananeethi executive director, George Pulikuthiyel, said the objective of the project was to help the people of the area to liberate themselves from fear, poverty, ignorance and insecurity and bring them to the path of progress and healthy social relations. About 400 legal literacy classes on human rights laws, public laws, sexual crimes, women and law, traffic rules, labour laws and environmental laws were conducted in the area

It was Jananeethi which implemented the project for making Thichur at Varavoor panchayat in the district litigation-free in 2000 for the first time in the country. Subsequently, some villages in Wayanad, Idukki, Ernakulam and Kasaragod districts followed suit.

Chief Justice's pat

Declaring Mullakkara litigation-free and legally literate, the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, N.K. Sodhi, said many leading jurists, including Nani A. Palkhivala, had pointed out that the greatest drawback of the administration of justice in India today was the inordinate delay in the disposal of cases. The significance of Mullakkara becoming litigation-free should be viewed in the backdrop of the facts disclosed by the National Crime Bureau that as many as 49,21,710 criminal cases were pending in different courts in the country at the end of 2000. At the pace at which cases are resolved, it would take another 324 years to clear this backlog. The Government itself is involved in more than 60 per cent of the civil suits. The success rate is often as low as five to six per cent. ``Keeping this grim national scenario in mind the Kerala village has achieved wonders by attaining the zero-level criminal litigation benchmark'', he said.

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