Kerala's Community Mediation Programme : A 'Nip In The Bud' Approach
'Nip in the bud' is an idiom which means: to stop, cease, or prevent something at the beginning or early phase, before it becomes too difficult or unmanageable. Pre Litigation mediation aims to stop the mess called litigation, many of which are not even worth starting. Some litigation do not serve any purpose other than to disturb the relationship between individuals and families and to burden the judicial process.
The Kerala State Legal Services Authority and Kerala State Mediation and Conciliation Centre have introduced a novel mediation mechanism which is named as Community Mediation Programme (CMP), which adopts this 'Nip in the bud' approach. The objective of this programme is to provide for mediation and settlement of conflicts in society at grass root level using the volunteers sponsored by social groups and trained by KSMCC.
As per the programme, different social, religious, cultural groups and organizations like NSS, SNDP, Muslim Mahal, Christian Parishes, Residence Association, Flat owner's society, Kudumbasree etc, can nominate persons to act as community Mediation Volunteers. Community Mediation Volunteers(CMVs) are supposed to have following qualifications: Persons aged between 25-55. They should be preferably graduates who are having good reputation in society and interested in social well being.
They will be imparted with 20 hours training by KSMCC as to the techniques and skills in mediation. On completion of the training they will function as community mediation Volunteers, preferably in the community mediation centre run by the SSO. More than 100 Community Mediation Volunteers have already got the requisite training.
As far as possible CMVs shall try to settle the conflict completely without leaving anything require execution. Thereafter, either party can file a PLP before DLSA-it is to be referred to the Lok Adalat- an award is to be passed in terms of the settlement agreement which can be executed.
"I think the time is ripe to devise a comprehensive legislation which contains compulsory pre-litigation mediation and a remedy for the biggest drawback in a mediation agreement that is to say the unenforceability of an agreement arrived at a mediation would ensure efficiency and also reduce the time pendency for parties as well as the courts. Maybe if some method could be found for certifying that an agreement has been freely entered into and for making it executable like a degree, mediation could become the most effective ADR", the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had said earlier this month while speaking at the 3rd International Conference organized by Indian Council of Arbitration and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry at New Delhi
Community Mediation Programme can be a perfect model of a pre-litigation mediation idea.