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ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION: PATH TO UNDELAYED JUSTICE.

“Justice delayed is justice denied.”

~ William E. Gladstone


INTRODUCTION


The emergence of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the judicial system is made to remove the backlogs in the current dispute resolution system and implement civil justice in the country. It has been seen that litigation costs a large amount of time, money, and human resource in any civil suit, and thus ADR offers the advantage to settle the suit efficiently without any vicious circle of delays and constant backlogs. At all times, trust and confidence must be maintained towards the judiciary by the people, and offering the settlement through such an alternate resolution system can easily save the justice seekers from the hurdles they go through due to the backlog of cases in the whole trial they have sued or been charged with.


The Indian jurists are compelled to seek alternate forums that are speedy, and effective due to the time-consuming, complex, interminable, and expensive court proceedings.[1] From the present situation, it has been observed that Alternate Dispute Resolution is an effective mechanism to settle down civil disputes and it is also effective in terms that it reduces the court's work pressure and load in the current times. The law that governs this resolution system is The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which is consolidated from various legislative and is effective.


Indeed, people can rightfully enforce their rights with the court's end dispute resolution but ADR has to offer a more speedy and effective method that is less expensive to settle any dispute. Also, this system is not a compulsory route that the parties have to take but a voluntary and where one can easily settle disputes more peacefully and thus opt for this positive approach of settling disputes and even get a win-win outcome.


SECTION 89 OF THE CIVIL PROCEDURE CODE


There are five forms of ADR namely, Arbitration, Mediation, Negotiation, Conciliation, and Lok Adalat. ADR can be resolved more satisfactorily than the court in the disputes, such as family disputes, contractual disputes, motor accident claims, neighborhood disputes, and a few other categories of civil or small criminal cases which make up a large percentage of pending proceedings. In countries like the USA, it has been seen that up to the extent of 90% of cases, parties to the case solve their disputes out from court proceedings and through the ADR system.


This section is a new provision and even though arbitration or conciliation has been an option to settle out disputes yet it still has not eased the burden on the courts. The sole objective is to blend a mechanism for resolving disputes between the courts and non-communities and to place an alternate dispute mechanism at the center of the Indian Judicial System. The sole objective is to blend a mechanism for resolving disputes between the courts and non-communities and to place an alternate dispute mechanism at the center of the Indian Judicial System. The process of litigating for a lengthy period has made Alternate Dispute Resolution an important part of the judicial system to ensure quick and speedier justice for both parties in the same way and the limited number of adjudicators. The provisions under this section are clear and simple with regards to ADR and parties can easily opt for any of the method of ADR to settle their dispute rather than approaching the courts for the same and even civil courts can introduce and suggest parties to go for ADR system when they feel that justice can be provided more speedily and effectively in the cases of any dispute.


ROLE OF ADR AND JUDICIAL TRENDS


In the conciliation proceeding, there is a special feature of the Settlement Agreement under the provisions of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which will attain as the status of a decree of court under section 74 of the act if it is signed by the parties after settling their dispute and thus authenticated by the conciliator. Also, there is a crucial role played by the District and Legal Services Authority of India in the districts for suggesting the parties settle their disputes through the ADR method and not run for court proceedings. Only for the execution proceedings, they have to move to the courts.

Aided by the decision in the case of Salem Advocate Bar Association, T.N. Vs. Union of India[2], the Andhra Pradesh High Court made the first move in organizing the Alternate dispute resolution mechanism for settling disputes by organizing a committee of 23 senior civil judges who would be the full-time secretaries of the District Legal Services Authority for the 23 districts in the state. Along these lines, workshops were also organized by the High Court with the aid of the International Centre of Alternate Dispute Resolution for the judicial officers, advocates, and other legal professionals in these 23 districts.


One of the reasons for the delay of judgments and backlogs in cases has been the lack of manpower in the judiciary. The former Chief Justice of India, T.S Thakur in 2016 lashed out at the government stating that the entire burden cannot be shifted to the judiciary and criticize it for the delays in cases.[3] He therein referred to the recommendation of 40,000 judges who can work over the pendency of cases by Law Commission as with such a high number of cases there are only 10 judges to million cases. The main points put forward by the former CJI were: with such load of litigation judges are overwhelmed, vacancies of judicial are not filled up, many times for obscure reasons at the level of government the appointment procedures are stuck, and thus without any swift procedures and increase in the number of the judiciary, the common man will suffer the most.


Another reason is the lack of transparency and accountability in the functioning of the Indian judiciary. In the year 2018, a press conference was held by four senior-most Supreme Court judges wherein the issue of assigning cases and in addition flagging some other problems concerning the functioning were also addressed.[4]


With the changing time, such issues are addressed with the introduction of the ADR mechanism to resolve civil disputes and avoiding court proceedings as well as the new E-Courts projects.


HOW ADR HAS AIDED PRESSURE FROM COURTS AND CUT BACKLOGS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES?


It has been seen that in the Covid Pandemic when the court proceedings have almost stood still in countries in the UK the growth of the ADR system has been increased tremendously. The ADR professionals have been encouraged for trying to deliver services at such a crucial time. The two main aims for the adoption of such a mechanism were to reduce the high cost and avoid delays that arise when court proceedings are going on over certain cases. Despite these two clear prospects, there are challenges that ADR professionals go through as people still are yet to understand why ADR is a better option to settle disputes that arise out of civil matters and so are still lagging in forwarding thinking jurisdictions as well such as Australia and Canada.


In Ireland, it has been seen that ADR is more encouraged with recent reviews given in the country of mediation. A review report was carried by Sir John Gillen, which stated that mediation acts as an assistant to aid pressure from the courts and the legal system.


[5] However, still, ADR professionals and mediators are challenged to go forward with the system and become more mainstream in getting people to resolve their disputes through ADR.


Covid-19 Pandemic has brought frustrating circumstances in making everything work in online mode which is a bigger challenge for every legal system in the world. How mediation originally is designed had never expected such change of circumstances posing difficulty for professionals to take different approaches in cobbling together various offerings outlined in resolving disputes. In Ireland, an online platform has been introduced namely CCODR which is to provide ADR professionals a platform to manage every aspect of their practice through the online mode of the ADR system and is a very secure suite where video conferencing was done on end-to-end encryption so that confidentiality is maintained through the entire procedure of ADR. This has been a rare practice ensured in the industry to comply with their GDPR obligations. Such innovative platforms ensure that ADR has a long way to go and through such a system, justice can be achieved more speedily and effectively.


CONCLUSION


An alternate mechanism to resolve a dispute can handle a case without causing the parties delays or financial loss. Alternate Dispute Resolution is an arena for litigation outside of trial, aimed at streamlining the life of a case while preserving the courts.


[1] Sugar Mills vs State Trading Corporation ILR 1982 Delhi 472

[2] (2005) 6 SCC 344

[3] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/cji-thakur-hits-out-at-centre-says-courts-lying-vacant-without-judges/story-wg1oG2RmekRRAjegd02bHM.html

[4] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/supreme-court-crisis-all-not-okay-democracy-at-stake-say-four-seniormost-judges/article10028921.ece

[5] Civil and Family Justice Review, 2015

NAVIN KUMAR JAGGI

PRIYANSHI SONI

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