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‘Law must serve changing needs of community’

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President Pratibha Patil having a word with Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph at the first anniversary celebrations of Bangalore Mediation Centre in Bangalore on Friday.
President Pratibha Patil having a word with Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph at the first anniversary celebrations of Bangalore Mediation Centre in Bangalore on Friday.

Special Correspondent

President calls for a balanced relationship among legal system, justice delivery and social needs

Mediation has lifted some burden from the courts

1.29 lakh cases pending before High Court

BANGALORE: President Pratibha Patil on Friday said the law has to serve the changing needs of the community and adapt itself to the changed requirements.

“Law cannot be a static body of rules but must adapt itself to change and changed requirements so as to serve its purpose in a better way,” she said.

Ms Patil, who was chief guest at the first anniversary celebrations of the Bangalore Mediation Centre (BMC) here, said a balanced relationship has to be maintained between the legal system, justice delivery and social needs. A “friendly legal system” would offer simplified options to litigants so that “justice is neither delayed nor denied” to them. Currently, a combination of factors have resulted in making judicial remedy time-consuming and it is said that people are leaving behind for their children a “legacy of litigation.”

In a four-page address to the gathering comprising judges, advocates and top government officials, the President said “with a backlog of over 30 million cases, it takes years for a case to be heard and resolved.” In 1999, Parliament amended Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code to redress this situation and introduced Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.

Ms. Patil said the modern-day mediation process is similar to the panchayat system of olden days. Mediation allowed voluntary participation of the disputing parties, where they play an important role in formulating the terms of settlement. They also have the option to revert back to the normal judicial forum if there is no success in mediation, she said.

Stating that mediation offered an opportunity of re-establishing communication between disputing parties, helping them understand each other’s issues, she said the system avoids hostility between parties and reduces the possibility of corruption.

“Mediation is not about right or wrong, fair or unfair. It respects the existence of multiple perspectives and attempts to dissolve conflicts rather than solve them. Mediation creates a change in mindset from adverse to problem solving. It is imperative to extend the concept to our communities, schools, colleges and workplaces in order to create a better world,” the President observed.

Noting that mediation had a positive impact on the judicial system, she said it lifted some burden from the courts. Suggesting lawyers to follow the footsteps of the Father of the Nation, she said the true function of the lawyer was to “unite the parties.”

In his address, Governor Rameshwar Thakur said access to justice was a fundamental right of every citizen. The rulings of Indian courts, including that of the Karnataka High Court, were used as precedents in other parts of the world.

The State Government had not only sanctioned Rs. 50 lakh for setting up the BMC, but also provided a building worth Rs. 20 crore, which is named as “Nyaya Degula” (temple of justice).

Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court Cyriac Joseph said 1.29 lakh of cases were pending before the High Court and 10.99 lakh cases were pending before subordinate courts.

S.R. Bannurmath, president, Board of Governors, BMC; B.V. Acharya, Advocate-General; D.L. Jagadeesh, president, Advocates Association, Bangalore; Justice Gopala Gowda, member, Board of Governors, BMC; were present. Chief Secretary P.B. Mahishi, and the three Advisers to the Governor attended the programme.

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