Kiran Bedi proposes community informal courts

March 12th, 2009 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) Police officer-turned-TV anchor Kiran Bedi Thursday proposed informal courts for communities like Residents Welfare Associations (RWA) to resolve small issues amicably without being dragged to higher courts.
“Whether it’s a fight over parking space or losing your pet dog, you run to the police for every small thing. The police is already so overburdened with terrorism and crime cases, and such cases simply add to their burden,” said Bedi, the first woman Indian Police Service (IPS) officer.

“To solve such cases promptly and amicably between parties without dragging them to higher courts, RWAs should set up their own Lok Adalats (people’s courts),” Bedi told reporters here.

“In fact, I think colleges and even schools should start having their own Lok Adalats to solve problems,” said Bedi, who anchors a popular TV show on Star Plus, “Aap Ki Kacheri”, an alternate dispute redressal forum.

Bedi said it should be taken care that the panel in such informal courts should consist of “an elderly citizen, a woman and a youth to give a balanced judgement”.

“Also the panel should change at regular intervals to ensure no partiality of justice,” she suggested.

Bedi was here to announce the second innings of “Aap Ki Kacheri”.

The show sees parties involved in domestic disputes come forth and put their points across to Bedi who encourages a discussion to reach a conclusion. In its first season as an alternate dispute redressal forum, the show saw 52 cases being resolved.

“The Indian Penal Code forms the main backbone of the show. We have a strong legal team and before calling in the participants on the show, we discuss the legalities involved so that proper advice can be given,” Bedi said.

“However, there are a few (conditions) before letting someone participate in the show. The first being that both the parties should be willing to participate voluntarily, it should not be a criminal case and the case should not be with any court,” she said.

Common family disputes like those between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, and husband and wife on issues such as not allowing the woman to work, have generated a lot of interest in the show.

Bedi said she enjoyed doing the show because it let her put into use all her 35 years of experience as a police officer and an NGO worker in the show.

“The concept of the show sets a good precedent to have community courts to solve disputes amicably between the parties without going to higher courts,” she said.

About the second season of the TV show, Bedi said: “Aap Ki Kacheri will now create apni adalats in different cities, towns and villages so that more cases are resolved. And more important than that, more people are made aware of the laws and empowered.”

Hailing such kind of reality shows, Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), who was also present at the conference, said: “Some of my neighbours have told me that the show has actually helped them introspect into their own issues and problems and resolve them without letting it get out of hand.”

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