Mediation should become the new mantra among lawyers: Justice M N Venkatachalaiah

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on August 17, 2019

Justice M N Venkatachalaiah, former CJI   -  G P SAMPATH KUMAR

Says India has 34 million pending cases, notional loss is estimated at Rs 2 lakh crore per year

Mediation should become the new mantra among lawyers before it escalates to any level, said Justice M N Venkatachalaiah, former Chief Justice of India (CJI).

At the one-day Legal Leadership Conclave on “Challenges and Future of Arbitration and Mediation in India,” organised by the India Legal Research Foundation, Justice Venkatachalaiah said with the rise in the number of litigants and cases, it was high time the country accepted and adopted mediation and arbitration as a formal legal route.

“We have 34 million pending cases across the country. Of the 22,000 subordinate courts in the country, there are a minimum of 120 litigants and 120 Lawyers and witnesses who visit these courts everyday. Most of the time, they go back empty handed as their matters are delayed. This is a precious loss of man hours and we should not allow it to come to such a stage.”

He also said there would be a notional loss of Rs 2 lakh crore per year due to such delays. “Even if a reasonable amount of Rs 200 was spent by every person, the amount of money wasted in prolonged litigation and court visits is enormous,” he pointed out.

Justice Venkatachalaiah said the judiciary should adopt new tools and technology that will speed up the process and mitigate delays. “Recognising and giving more importance to arbitration and mediation of disputes is one way to reduce pending cases. Appointing more number of judges is not the answer as this also adds to spending,” he explained.

The former CJI also said that technology should be used to the optimum and even the use of Artificial Intelligence would be a big step. By just spending 5 per cent of this cost in alternative dispute resolution mechanism, the people can benefit enormously. The Prime Minister, Law Minister and other stake holders should own up to this problem. “In days of digital dictatorship and digital divide, mediation is the right way in arbitration,” he added.

‘Sovereign states should get into bilateral treaties’

Speaking from New Delhi, via a live feed, Union Minister for Highways, Nitin Gadkari said there was an economic slowdown in infrastructure building, especially in his sector of national highways, as contractors were being affected hugely due to delays in litigation.

Justice B N Srikrishna, former Supreme Court judge, who headed a committee and gave recommendations on mediation as a forward looking idea, said even sovereign states should get into bilateral treaties and arbitration before third parties impose anything.

He spoke on “Challenges and Reforms in Indian Arbitration and Mediation System – Way Forward.” B N Srikrishna said the 2015 Act was very clear as it was recognised as a cut-off-date as far as arbitration of disputes were concerned.

Justice Srikrishna also stressed on the fact that it is better to have institutional arbitration especially with Supreme Court and High Courts supervising such institutions.

“The future challenge is to make effective use of the new law which is a relevant and live substitute for antiquated laws,” he added.

Justice T S Thakur, former Chief Justice of India, who moderated the session, said the main challenge was that anyone should be able to access the arbitration mechanism. “Even a small municipal contractor should have easy access to the arbitration mechanism to settle his dispute,” Thakur added.

He was also of the opinion that India should build an international and domestic arbitration hub.

Published on August 17, 2019

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