Mediation as first step on conflict resolution is need of hour, says CJI Ramana

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Chief Justice of India NV Ramana. (File photo/ANI)
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana. (File photo/ANI)

New Delhi [India], July 17 (ANI): Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana on Saturday said the need and time has come for India to enter into 'mission mode' and prescribed mediation as a 'mandatory first step for resolution of every dispute' for settling cases between parties.

"Given the growing scope of mediation, it is time for India to enter mission mode. To popularise mediation as a cheaper and faster dispute resolution mechanism, a movement needs to be launched. Prescribing mediation as a mandatory first step for resolution of every allowable dispute will go a long way in promoting mediation," the CJI said, while addressing the inaugural India-Singapore Mediation Summit (ISMS, 2021), Making Mediation Mainstream: Reflections from India and Singapore, event through virtual mode.

Perhaps, an omnibus law in this regard is needed to fill the vacuum, the CJI said and added that there are around 40,000 mediation centres in India and 1 million cases have been settled by March 2021 in India.

"We must take note of the fact that a vast majority of litigants in India belong to middle and poorer sections of society. They will find great solace if mediation gets established as a reliable means of redress. Needless to state, it will lead to a remarkable reduction in the number of cases reaching the regular courts. Such a scenario will enhance the efficiency of the judicial system," he said.

Mediation, being the cheapest and simplest option available to the public at large can be described as a tool of social justice in the Indian context. Such a party-friendly mechanism ultimately upholds the rule of law, the CJI added.

He also said that several States in India are currently coming to build a robust ADR-(Address Disputes Resolution) friendly environment. Recently, the State of Telangana has come forward to set up a state-of-the-art ADR facility. This is a welcome move and I hope other states will soon follow.

He further stressed the need for cooperation between India and Singapore and said it is going to be a significant factor in promoting alternate dispute redressal mechanisms in both our countries, as well as in the entire subcontinent.

While delving into India's old history, the CJI Ramana said that our epic, Mahabharata provides an example of an early attempt at mediation as a conflict resolution tool.

"The great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, actually provides an example of an early attempt at mediation as a conflict resolution tool, where Lord Krishna attempted to mediate the dispute between the Pandavas and Kauravas," the CJI said.

It may be worthwhile to recall that the failure of mediation led to disastrous consequences, he warned.

While saying that the reporting of pendency of cases in Indian Courts is an 'overstatement and an uncharitable analysis', the CJI said the often-quoted statistic that 'pendency' in Indian Courts has reached 45 million cases, and is perceived as the inability of the Indian judiciary to cope with the caseload.

The Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon, said that mediation has come to experience a key role in helping the Dispute Resolution Process. "It has immense potential in Asia," CJS Menon said.

He said mediation has to harmonise ways of solving cases. 70 per cent of mediation disputes were solved in a day. Mediation is a non adverserial process and helped parties in soving their disputes in a very functional manner. Mediation is a growing international arena.

The CEO, Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant, said that through DRP, Justice can be delivered to the common man through mediation. In earlier days, Gram Panchayats play a major role in solving disputes, and now a says, mediation is playing a major role. (ANI)

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