R.C. Lahoti insists that the forum will not impinge on the jurisdiction of courts; RSS affiliate says it will address “crumbling family structure”.

New Delhi: An RSS affiliate has formed a unique forum, consisting primarily of senior advocates and retired judges, which it says will help ensure compromises in civil cases such as family feuds, property disputes and those involving neighbours among others.

The forum, called the Nyaya Chaupal, is to be headed by the former chief justice of India R.C. Lahoti. Other prominent members include former Supreme Court judge Anil R. Dave, Supreme Court lawyer Govind Goel, and advocate Alok Kumar, who is also the VHP international working president.

The chaupal is the brainchild of RSS affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad (ABAP). Its first workshop was held on 7 March and was attended by RSS leader Krishna Gopal, Lahoti, Dave and RSS representatives from 16 states.

According to ABAP, the Nyaya Chaupal has been formed as civil disputes are an outcome of the “crumbling family structure in the new societal order”. The forum, it adds, will also involve eminent people of the area to resolve civil cases of any type through dialogue.

The concept is based on the role gram panchayats play in villages.

Those associated with the Nyaya Chaupal insist that it will not impinge on the jurisdiction of the courts. “The aim is not to connect with the judiciary or interact with them. We don’t aim to run a parallel system. The aim is to build an environment in our surroundings where there will be no disputes,” Lahoti said in a documentary made on the forum.

To launch 1000s of such teams

The chaupal will form teams of eminent people who will resolve civil cases; it believes it will be able to form 1,000 such teams across the country.

So far, retired judges have held workshops for those who will form part of the chaupals; each team is expected to have 10 “respectable personalities” of the area.

Maintaining that the forum should not be considered as a system parallel to the judiciary, Bharat Bhushan, head of Delhi Nyaya Chaupal, said the need for such a body was felt as even mediation centres, monitored by courts, pose the same difficulties as the courts.

“Even in these mediation centres, one has to wait for dates and pay a minimum fee. The touch of a friend and well-wisher is missing. We found that in most cases, if there is a person who can reason with those involved and sort things out, many people won’t even have to come to courts,” Bhushan said.

“When professionals and eminent people reason with the warring parties, most cases get resolved,” he added.

To reach out to people, the chaupal will do aggressive campaigning and form an active website.

“These people whose disputes are solved before it gets to the courts will be our ambassadors,” Dave said at the March workshop.

The chaupal also pointed to the backlog in the judicial system. According to chaupaluntil 2017, there were 3.5 crore cases pending in various courts including those of domestic and personal disputes. Of these, 60,000 are pending in Supreme Court, 42 lakh in the various high courts and 2.7 crore in the lower judiciary.

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