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Nari Adalat: Courts For Womens

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Context: The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) will implement “nari adalat” (women’s courts) led by women’s collectives in the country in a phased manner.

  • Nari Adalat is a gender-sensitive and an informal Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) platform.
  • It an innovation of the WCD Ministry. Made in response to the rise in the number of cases of violence against women.
What is Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
  • ADR refers to the process of settling disputes without the involvement of the judicial system and formal trials.
  • It covers various types of matters, including civil, commercial, industrial, and family disputes.
  • A neutral third party assists the parties involved in communication and reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution.
  • ADR is non-adversarial and aims to reduce the burden on courts by facilitating cooperative resolutions.
Types of ADR:
  • Arbitration: The dispute is submitted to an arbitral tribunal which makes a decision (an “award”) on the dispute that is mostly binding on the parties.
  • Conciliation: A non-binding procedure in which an impartial third party, the conciliator, assists the parties to a dispute in reaching a mutually satisfactory agreed settlement of the dispute.
  • Mediation:
    • In mediation, an impartial person called a “Mediator” helps the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute.
    • The mediator does not decide the dispute but helps the parties communicate so they can try to settle the dispute themselves.
  • Negotiation: A non-binding procedure in which discussions between the parties are initiated without the intervention of any third party. Done with the object of arriving at a negotiated settlement to the dispute.
  • Lok Adalat: An interesting feature of the Indian legal system is the existence of voluntary agencies called Lok Adalats (Peoples’ Courts).

Nari Adalats

  • Nari Adalats are not a new concept in India. They have been functioning in some states like Gujarat, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh for over two decades.
  • They have been successful in providing speedy and affordable justice to women. Those who face harassment, discrimination and violence at home and in society. They also create awareness among women about their rights and entitlements.
  • Ministries involved: This initiative is being implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development under the Sambal sub-scheme of Mission Shakti.
  • Informality and flexibility: Nari Adalats do not adhere to any strict legal rules or formalities. They use dialogue, mediation and negotiation as tools to settle disputes between parties.
  • Accessibility and affordability: Nari Adalats are free of cost and easily reachable for women. They function at the village level, so women do not have to face any hassle or hardship in accessing them.
  • Participation and democracy: Nari Adalats involve the community, especially women, in the process of delivering justice. They respect the local culture and values but also question them when they are unfair or harmful to women.
  • Empowerment and transformation: Nari Adalats not only offer justice to women but also enable them to claim their rights and dignity. They also educate men and society about the importance of gender equality and justice 
Composition of Nari Adalats: 
  • The Nari Adalat of each village would have 7-9 members/Nyaya Sakhis [legal friends]:
    • Half of which would be the elected members of the gram panchayat and the other half are women with social standing like teachers, doctors and social workers – who would be nominated by the villagers.
  • The head of Nari Adalat called the Mukhya Nyaya Sakhi [chief legal friend] will be chosen among the Nyaya Sakhis, generally for a six-month term.
  • The Nari Adalat will not hold any legal status as its primary focus will be on reconciliation, grievance redressal and creating awareness of rights and entitlements.

Significance of Nari Adalats:

  • The Nari Adalat will not only address individual cases but also raise awareness about social schemes under the government. While collecting valuable feedback to enhance the effectiveness of these initiatives.
  • It will cater to all women and girls who require assistance or have grievances within the local community.

Read Also : A Sustainable Model for Women’s Leadership

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