Friday 4 July 2014

Solving cases through Mediation

In response to my previous post many people have agreed with the Chief Justice of India that courts should remain open 365 days in a year, as can be seen from their comments.

I ask them, if courts are kept open 365 days a year, will it create even a dent on the massive arrears in our law courts ? There are a staggering 30 million cases pending in our law courts. Working 365 days a year will not do anything to solve the problem.

As I pointed out in my previous post, America, too, at one time was having this problem. The Americans solved it by going in for mediation in a massive way. Now 93% cases in America are resolved by mediation, instead of adjudication.

Mediation was first started in India in the Madras High Court when I was Chief Justice there.One day a group of lawyers, headed by Mr. Shriram Panchu, a senior lawyer who had got training in America and Europe in mediation, and is perhaps one of the top mediators in India, came to meet me in my chamber, and said they wanted to start mediation in the High Court. At that time I had no idea about mediation. They explained to me the concept. I thought it is something which should be given a try, and so I allotted 5 rooms in the High Court building to them, and also gave them some facilities like computers, a staff, furniture, etc. Very soon mediation started in full swing, and now a very good mediation centre has been established in Chennai, and a lot of cases are being resolved there.

Then when I went to Delhi as the Chief Justice I invited Mr. Panchu and his team to Delhi, and they came and trained the Delhi lawyers, and now there is a very good mediation centre in Delhi High Court. People should go there and see the excellent work being done there. 

I then requested Mr. Panchu and his team to come to Allahabad, my parent High Court, and help setting up a centre there. They very kindly came to Allahabad and trained the lawyers there, and now the centre is doing good work there. 
I believe the Bangalore Mediation Centre is also doing good work.

However, mediation needs to further spread throughout India. It needs trained mediators, for mediation is a skill which is different from that of a lawyer or Judge (though the best mediators are lawyers) and this requires training. In America in the annual American Bar Association meeting, half the lawyers who attend are also trained mediators.

Not all disputes can be resolved by mediation. For example, serious criminal cases like murder and dacoity can obviously not be decided by mediation. In fact a mediator does not decide anything.He only tries, using his skills, to bring the parties to an amicable settlement, pointing out to them the advantages of an amicable settlement instead of long drawn court proceedings. He uses his skills as a mediator for this purpose.

I suggest that if people are serious about solving the huge problem of arrears and long drawn court proceedings they should think of such alternate dispute resolution mechanisms instead of advocating impractical measures like Courts working for 365 days in a year. The Courts can simply not handle the massive arrears

1 comment:

  1. Sir it's always easy to look other side, others mistake and say 'only if we have this'. We should stop borrowing quick fixes from someone else n find out our solutions by considering what we have. We may or may not be able to fix our problems but with 24 hrs what's harm in trying it ? What's ur reservation about change ? If that doesn't work we will change again. It's good if system works the way you suggested but if we don't have that we just sit and wait. I this you are suggesting ?