9 April 2022 9:59 AM GMT
"An active effort must be taken by Courts to make negotiation and mediation mandatory, as a part of case management", said the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday while speaking at the inaugural event of the two-day national conference on "Mediation and Information Technology" in Gujarat."Imbibing effective ADR mechanisms into the judicial process can reduce pendency, save...
"An active effort must be taken by Courts to make negotiation and mediation mandatory, as a part of case management", said the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday while speaking at the inaugural event of the two-day national conference on "Mediation and Information Technology" in Gujarat.
"Imbibing effective ADR mechanisms into the judicial process can reduce pendency, save judicial resources and time, and allow litigants a degree of control over the dispute resolution process and its outcome." the CJI said.
"I would like to begin with the mythological story, that I often refer to. It is the story of mediation undertaken by Lord Krishna, to prevent the war of Kurukshetra. We all know the consequences of that failed mediation. Imagine, how much destruction would have been avoided; how lives could have been saved and how the kingdoms would have prospered, had Krishna succeeded", the CJI said the start of the address.
The CJI spoke about the need to have increased awareness campaigns to educate the public, and how Legal Service Authorities play an integral role in disposal of cases through ADR mechanisms .Lawyers must pursue every possibility of pre-litigation settlement and parties who opt for this forum must commit and work towards the early resolution of their dispute and not use it as a mere delaying tactic.
The CJI also spoke about the multiple benefits of adopting alternate methods of dispute resolution. He said that Mediation and negotiation at the pre-litigation stage maximise the participation of stakeholders and ADR being designed around a participatory model, is going to break the existing barrier.
Therefore from being an "outsider to the process", citizens with their direct involvement will be "insiders in the process".
The CJI opined that we need skilled mediators to decide some significant issues during the process of mediation.
"Particularly, in a situation where settlement is fully going in favour of a particular party. What is the duty of a mediator if the settlement reached is patently unjust to the weaker party? Should the mediator be a silent spectator during such negotiations? These are just some of the questions which one must consider, particularly in a country like India with our diverse social fabric", the CJI said
The CJI said that with adequate cooperation from all stakeholders, ADR has the ability to emerge as a tool of social justice in India, as Several States in India are currently coming to build a robust ADR-friendly environment.
Developing expertise in negotiation and mediation is much-needed for new-age lawyers and law students, and the skills involved are not only useful in the world of alternate dispute resolution but are also vital for managing personal and professional relations in day-to-day life.
While talking about Information Technology and its utility in law, CJI cited a quote from an English drama written by James Graham: "money is fine - but data is power".
He said that these words are important for 21st Century, wherein, computing ability has increased by a billion times, while law regulating the same has not been able to catch up.
The CJI further said that the last three decades have seen a massive increase in processing power, the explosion of data, significant reduction in data management costs and increased availability of sophisticated machinery and software. Further, the rapid development of technology has resulted in increased complexity even within the legal and regulatory landscape of the country.
According to the CJI, with the passage of time, there is a possibility of increased litigation on these issues, and all those engaged in the justice dispensation mechanism: judges, lawyers, law enforcement agencies, and others, now need to have a thorough understanding of new technologies.
Technology Can Be Beneficially Employed By Judicial System:
The CJI said that the legal profession is at the brink of a technological revolution and the pandemic has helped to speed up this process.
Talking about the traditional litigation model being sometimes criticized as being an extremely expensive process, CJI said that Charles Dickens in his book "Bleak House" had commented on the number of legal papers generated in a dispute as "mountains of costly nonsense".
He further said that every day tons of paper are filed before Courts especially in a big corporate litigation. "They follow the old saying, if you cannot convince the judge, confuse him", CJI said
The CJI opined that Technology has the potential to simplify this process and Courts in India have started utilising technology with E-Committees taking up various initiatives such as developing E -filing, Computer Assisted Transcription, Document Display System and the integration of Courts under one IT Infrastructure.
He further said that harnessing the modern technology, recently the Supreme Court has launched the "FASTER", a digital platform for fast and secured delivery of urgent court orders in encrypted electronic format, to the stakeholders. This would ensure effective implementation of court orders, without any delay.
CJI pointed out that various High Courts have taken the transparency to a new level by way of livestreaming of the proceedings using the cost-effective technology.
The CJI said that to make the idea of access to justice effective, and user-centric, the need of the hour is the popularization of mediation, across various platforms.
He added that the adoption of technology and shift towards online dispute resolution, has resulted in the popularisation of Online Mediation.
"Distance, money and time are no longer barriers for parties. Online mediation has ability to revolutionise the justice delivery system by promising simple and affordable justice for all" CJI said .
President Ram Nath Kovind, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Aravind Kumar, Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel also spoke at the event. Supreme Court judges Justices L Nageswara Rao, Abdul Nazeer, MR Shah, Vikram Nath and Bela Trivedi were also present at the function.
Click here to read the full text of the CJI's speech