In 2012 Bihar Govt issued instructions to the Police Dept. not to take up petty complaints, which are supposed to be taken up by Gram Panchayats as identified in the Bihar Panchayati Raj Act 2006.
A number of cases of thefts upto Rs 10,000, family disputes, criminal trespass and several others fall under the jurisdiction of Panchayats. Police stations have been instructed not to take up cases, which fall in the jurisdiction of Panchayats. Panchayat Orders will be completely legal. A Sarpanch can fine upto Rs 1000/-. These can be appealed against within 30 days before a full bench of Gram kachahari and later before the District Court.
It is hoped that petty matters can be resolved at local level at a faster pace and would also deter people approaching kangaroo courts held by Naxals in some areas. A Sarpanch, who does not enjoy any police protection, if faces any violence could approach any police station. The state govt. Has stated that any person hurting a sarpanch will face stringent action, with instructions to DSP/SP to immediately take up any such cases immediately.
While the reform is laudable for making legal system more accessible to the people, however seems to rely on the personal effort / goodwill of Sarpanch and hence success would need to be evaluated only after sometime.
Socio Research & Reform Foundation
(A Non Government Organisation)
512 A, Deepshikha, 8 Rajendra Place, New Delhi – 110008