Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana stressed the need for increasing the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms like mediation that can change the judicial landscape, bringing justice to millions and settling grievances without protracted legal proceedings.
Speaking on the significance of mediation as an ADR mechanism and the need for skilled mediators, Chief Justice urged that an “active effort must be taken by courts to make negotiations and mediation mandatory as part of case management.” He added that with adequate cooperation from all stakeholders, ADR can emerge as a tool of social justice in the country.
The CJI was speaking at all India two-day conference on Mediation and Information Technology organised at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat.
“The concept of ADR, through Lok Adalats, Gram Nyayalayas, mediation and arbitration centres, has the potential to transform the legal landscape of India by providing millions of people a platform to settle their grievances,” the CJI said.
Listing the benefits of mediation, CJI Ramana said it can reduce pendency, save judicial resources and time, and allow litigants “a degree of control over the dispute resolution process and its outcome.”
He called it “one of the most empowering methods of resolving disputes as they maximise the participation of stakeholders.”
“Conflicts have a human face. One must have the foresight to look beyond the conflict. A dispute should not spoil your relationship. Prolonged litigation can drain resources and cause animosity, and conflicts can be resolved in a neutral environment, where both parties are in a win-win situation. After all, life is a balancing act,” the CJI said.
Noting the need for skilled mediators, the CJI said they are needed to decide on issues like whether the settlement being reached is patently unjust to the weaker party, and whether he should be a silent spectator during such negotiations.
Talking about technology, Justice Ramana said all those engaged in the justice dispensation mechanism including judges, lawyers, law enforcement agencies, and others agencies, need to have a thorough understanding of new and emerging technologies.
“Our profession is at the brink of a technological revolution. The pandemic has helped to speed up this process. Technology has the potential to simplify the process, and Indian courts have started utilising it, with the e-Committees taking up initiatives like developing E -filing, Computer Assisted Transcription, Document Display System and the integration of courts under one IT Infrastructure,” the CJI said.
Justice Ramana also spoke on ‘FASTER’, a digital platform recently launched by the Supreme Court for fast and secured delivery of urgent court orders in encrypted electronic format to the stakeholders, as well as live streaming of court proceedings.