In Uttarakhand people have found a new way to attain justice and it has nothing to do with the legal system of the country. People from villages have resorted to local deities in case of disputes and believe in them much more than any court of law.
In this process of getting justice, an amount of Rs 10 is submitted by the applicant and justice is served within two weeks. The whole procedure is called Syana. To make it more authentic and detailed, Sayan, which roughly translates into a matured intellectual person of society, consults Khat-panchayat that has eight to ten members and then announces the decision. After this, there is no way one can re-appeal, and whatever the decision is, both the parties have to accept it in front of Mahasu Devta and pledge to abide by that verdict.
In this story covered by the Times of India, residents from over 350 villages in Uttarakhand Jaunsar Bawar region follow this justice procedure which is known as Khumdi. The state has a special police system–revenue police–in which city officials have powers to function and police of the region and these villages come under revenue policing. Whenever they get off their civil duties, villagers double up as policemen.
Most of the cases that knock this process are family disputes or land disputes. To solve these issues, meetings of Khat Panchayat are held once or twice a month and in one go, they give a verdict for over 10 cases as mentioned by Chandram Rajguru, a priest of the region.
One of the many reasons why people of villages trust this system is convenience. They have to travel to Dehradun, 4-6 hours, to attend a hearing and will have put in money to hire a lawyer which is not a very convenient way. Residents from that area say that unlike in the courts, this system is more beneficial for them because apart from the accused and the complainant, views of residents about the issue are also considered. This gives a fairer and more appropriate sense of judgment.
The whole procedure may be right for some and extremely foolish for others but it is just a matter of convenience. Why will someone travel six hours and spend thousands of rupees for justice when it can be done for Rs 10. This not only highlights the shortcomings of our legal system because it failed to serve the needy but it also shows how easy it is for people to ignore the system and switch to an alternate way for justice. It leaves thinking whether the legal and judiciary procedury in India is strong enough for people to have trust in it?
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