Revamp the Nyaya Mitra – Make it People Friendly

Modi ji has taken more than a dozen big and bold initiatives within the short span of about three and half years of his coming to office. The latest one-Introduction of the institution of NYAYA MITRA- the new system to address plaints against judiciary– is quite innovative. It can also be a unique weapon in the armory of common man against the still rampant corruption in judiciary, particularly the lower judiciary and semi-judicial institutions, commissions, organizations, and forums, such as, District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Civil Courts of Law, Information Commission, and so forth provided it is sufficiently empowered to cover all these judicial or semi-judicial institutions.

These, of late, have become dens of corruption. Modi ji can justifiably take pride in liberating the country from the shackles of back to back scams of astronomical proportions that had routinely happened in the previous thoroughly corrupt Congress Government and ushering in a ‘no scam’ regimen. However, the rampant corruption in lower judiciary stays on as a blot on the BJP Governments at the centre and several states.

This new system can also be regarded as a logical extension of Modi ji’s relentless on-going crusade against corruption intended to bring in its fold judicial and semi judicial institutions, hitherto considered ‘holy cow’ – notwithstanding the rampant corruption in them. The system holds the promise to stem the rot provided, of course, deep thinking is invested in giving it final shape and content.

EXPECTATIONS AND ASPIRATIONS

The system should aim to empower the hitherto helpless, hapless and defenseless common man, who doesn’t have pockets deep enough to fight prolonged, very costly yet in almost all cases, a losing battle against the loaded verdicts of these thoroughly corrupt semi-judicial institutions, forums, commissions, and courts of law. And that leaves him/her with no alternative but to suffer the vicious consequences of their loaded, one-sided judgments, judgmental decisions of Information Commissioners in RTI cases, in silence.

As of now, against a loaded, judgmental decision of a corrupt Information Commissioner or for that matter against such verdict, decision or judgment given by a corrupt president of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, there is no remedy except filing an appeal or revision petition against it in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. However, it is a luxury which few among common citizens can afford. With the introduction of the institution of Nyaya Mitra, such bleak prospects should become history.

SCOPE AND POWER

Much, however, depends upon the scope and space provided to, and power invested in Nyaya Mitra in the interests of speedy and effective grievance redressal against the loaded judgments, decisions or verdicts of the judicial and semi-judicial institutions. To meet the ends of justice and stem corruption, the willfully defaulting Presidents of the Consumer Forums, Information Commissioners, and judges of the civil courts etc. should be awarded deterrent punishment.

The new system should, therefore, be meticulously planned. Nyaya Mitra should be sufficiently empowered so as to give strength, substance and meaning to Modi ji’s clarion call ‘NA KHAUNGA NA KHANEY DUNGA‘. It is finding echo in the hearts of millions of his countrymen, who had suffered the vicissitudes of the demon called ‘corruption’ all through the previous regimes after independence, and make the country a better place to live in.

SUGGESTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION

  1. Only qualified professionals, including retired IAS and IPS officers with legal and administrative background or academic qualifications, should be appointed as Nyaya Mitras. The deadwoods of corrupt judiciary should not have any place in the new system.
  2. The honorarium of Rs.45,000/-per month, including travel expenses, should be raised to Rs. 60,000/- per month to attract the most brilliant among these officers (the cream) to its fold
  3. All such matters and grievances against judiciary, whether related to corruption in court, delay in delivery of judgment or unfair judgment, should either be routed through the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO’s Public Grievances portal), or through other public grievances portals of the government. All such existing grievances against the judiciary lying with these portals including those which have since been arbitrarily ‘closed’ – whether related to corruption in court, delay in delivery of judgment or unfair judgment, may immediately be forwarded by these portals to the concerned Nyaya Mitra for their consideration and action as per the rules and regulations.
  4. The office of the Nyaya Mitra should be located at every district headquarter.
  5. In the interests of speedy and effective grievance redressal against the loaded judgments, decisions or verdicts of the judicial and semi-judicial institutions, the Nyaya Mitra should be sufficiently empowered to recommend deterrent punishment to be meted out to the willfully defaulting Presidents of the Consumer Forums and Commissions, Information Commissioners, judicial officers, judges of the courts of law etc
  6. Nyaya Mitras should be fully empowered to call for the records from the concerned lower defaulting law courts, consumer forums, information commissions etc. who have passed unfair judgment, judgmental decision in RTI cases, or otherwise faulted in any manner, thoroughly examine their judgments/decisions/course of action they have taken. It should submit a self-contained, comprehensive self-explanatory note along with the complete case records/ files etc. directly to the Hon’ble Supreme Court. A designated bench of the Supreme Court, on the basis of the findings of the Nyaya Mitra in the matter should straightway pass such orders. These should be in supersession of unfair judgments/decisions/orders of the lower judiciary, judicial or semi-judicial forums, commissions, organizations, institutions, Panchayats etc., as it may deem fit. These orders should be final, and binding on all concerned judges, commissioners, presidents of the consumer forums, Sarpanch etc. who had earlier delivered the wrong and faulty judgment, besides the parties to the dispute. A copy of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order should be made available, free of cost, to the complainant. The executive machinery of the government should promptly get into action and execute the orders. This much is absolutely necessary in the interests of quick, fair, painless, and not much expensive justice to a common man, which he richly deserves.
  7. Other grievances (other than those against the judiciary) i.e. those against government departments, their officials, public undertakings, public utility concerns and agencies of all types, whether purely government, semi-government or running under PPP arrangements, as have been or are being lodged on the PMO’s Public Grievances portal, or other public grievances portals of the government should immediately be submitted by these portals to the concerned Nyaya Mitra. It should be vested with the powers of First Class Magistrate, and in that capacity decide them in the manner as they deem fit, and pass orders which should be binding on all concerned. The executive machinery of the government must accord due priority to the orders issued by Nyaya Mitra, promptly get into action, and execute them with the same promptness as those of Hon’ble Supreme Court in cases of grievance against the judiciary.

This is absolutely necessary in view of the fact that to the huge consternation of the aggrieved complainants, the public grievances portals of the governments, including that of the PMO, have all along been doing absolutely nothing concrete or substantial about the grievances lodged on them. In most cases they seem to follow the trademark Congress policy of ‘ATKAANA, LATKANA, BHATKANA‘ apparently inherited by them by working under the previous several decades long corrupt Congress regimes.

They scuttle the grievances by proffering irrelevant remarks against the ‘Details’ column, and before anybody could know what is happening, promptly close them. Unpalatable ‘feedback’ are summarily obliterated. A message to the effect that ‘the grievance is finally ‘closed’, and no reminder/clarification can be entertained’ immediately flashes at the top of the box encasing the grievance. It greets the bewildered complainant throwing him in a state of consummate quandary. Goes without saying, the experience is very much frustrating.

In some other cases, they act merely as a Post Office, and that too the most inept one. The portals forward the grievances to one or the other authority that may not have anything to do with it, and as such, legitimately honours the grievances by ‘filing’ them with a ‘no action required’ remark. The worst, however, happens, and that happens more often than not, when the grievance is forwarded to the tormentor itself i.e to the authority that caused the grievance. Quite understandably, the tormentor reacts with the viciousness of a venomous viper. In that case, the fate of the complainant, and that of his complaint, can better be imagined than described.

Thus, in 99.9 percent recurring cases the grievances lodged on the PMO’s public grievances portal, or for that matter, any other public grievances portals of the government, go nowhere. It is also observed that some portals offer to mediate or arbitrate in a dispute only to retrace after sometime without informing the complainant.

While I attribute no motives, and all this may not be pre-designed with any malafide intentions, yet after all is said and done, the whole thing seems to be an eyewash, a deception designed to fool the simple and gullible complainant. In the ultimate analysis, the conclusion drawn about the existing arrangement of things impels us to become wiser after the event (read ‘after lodging the complaint on these so-called public grievance redressal portals’), and silently admit that blessed are those who manage to suffer all sorts of injustices and maltreatment in silence for they will be spared of the onerous ordeal of lodging the grievance that, at best, falls flat, and at worst, proves counter-productive.

Hopefully, things change for the better when the grievances lodged at these public grievance portals of the government will be forwarded to sufficiently empowered Nyaya Mitra, The justice for the common man, then, may not be as elusive a commodity as it is now-way beyond his reach.

-By SANJOG MAHESHWARI

Featured Image source: http://www.livelaw.in/nyaya-mitras-eligibility-criteria-duties-responsibilities/


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