A Punjab village has been forced to set up its own "high court" to resolve disputes due to rising litigation costs and slow pace of justice. Pulha village elders claim the "court", comprising 35 "jury" members, has settled over 250 cases primarily related to land disputes piled up over last three years in as many months.
"Except murder, we try to solve all other issues," said Sukhjinder Singh, a village elder. Another elder and jury member Darshan Singh said villagers used to face harassment at the hands of the police and the courts "with justice becoming the casualty".
The jury includes former army, police officers from the village besides local panchayat members, who work free of cost.
The "court" has put in place a mechanism of "thorough" inquiry to ensure its "verdicts" are acceptable to the people.
"The verdict is delivered after seeking the consent of the parties involved," said another jury member.
The police in the area have witnessed a steady decline in the number of villagers approaching them with complaints. "The villagers seem satisfied with the arrangement," said SHO Sandeep Singh.