Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on Saturday underlined the need for finding ways of disposing of matters pending in courts for years through mediation.

Presiding over a national ‘District level’ meet on mediation here, he said the population-judges ratio was not adequate to meet the huge litigation explosion, and efforts must be made to resolve disputes through mediation. The idea was to help people and that needed a change of mind.

In mediation, every matter was resolved by way of the alternative dispute resolution mechanism and there was no appeal. “It is not that there is no provision for appeal but disputes are resolved amicably and to the satisfaction parties to disputes.”

Justice Kabir cautioned the judiciary against being wedded to rigidity of rules. He recalled the instance of a handicapped girl’s plea for callipers not being entertained in the course of a Lok Adalat merely because she had not correctly filed the memorandum of appearance. However, subsequently the dispute was resolved amicably and now she was planning to pursue medical education.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid highlighted the benefits of resolving disputes through mediation. He described President Pranab Mukherjee as one of the greatest mediators of our times.

The Chief Justice later said the Minister had taken the words out of his mouth as he wanted to start his speech by saying, “We have amongst us a person who is one of the greatest mediators.”

As per the note presented by the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee, 357 mediation training programmes and 3,410 referral judges training programmes have been conducted so far in various parts of the country. About 3,500 mediators have been trained. As of September this year, 2, 78,310 cases were referred to 417 mediation centres across the country, and 1, 11,082 of them were settled.

Justices Swatanter Kumar, S.S. Nijjar and Madan B. Lokur of the Supreme Court addressed the seminar. Chief Justices of the Delhi and Madras High Courts D. Murugesan and M.Y. Eqbal, and Supreme Court Bar Association president P.H. Parekh participated.

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