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NEW DELHI: With the pendency of cases crossing the 4.5-crore mark over burdening the three-tier justice delivery system, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Saturday said mediation should be made mandatory as a first step for dispute resolution and a law should be framed in this regard.
“Given the growing scope of mediation, it is time for India to enter mission mode. To popularise mediation as cheaper and faster dispute resolution mechanism, a movement needs to be launched,” the CJI said.
Pendency not a useful indicator of how well a system is doing: CJI
Prescribing mediation as a mandatory first step for resolution of every allowable dispute will go a long way in promoting mediation. Perhaps, an omnibus law in this regard is needed to fill the vacuum,” the CJI said at the India-Singapore Mediation Summit on Saturday.
“We must take note of the fact that a vast majority of litigants in India belong to middle and poorer sections of society. They will find great solace if mediation gets established as a reliable means of redress. Needless to state, it will lead to a remarkable reduction in the number of cases reaching the regular courts. Such a scenario will enhance the efficiency of the judicial system,” he said.
The CJI also added that mediation could be made easily available to the public at large and be a tool of social justice and must be adopted for resolution of all disputes.
Justice Ramana, however, refuted the perception that large pendency of cases in courts is a reflection of inefficiency of the judicial system. “The often-quoted statistic that ‘pendency’ in Indian courts has reached 45 million cases, which is perceived as the inability of the Indian judiciary to cope with the case load. This is an overstatement and an uncharitable analysis.”
He elaborated that even a case filed a day before gets added to the pendency statistic and, “therefore, not a useful indicator of how well, or poorly, a system is doing”.
“There is no doubt that the issue of judicial delays is a complex problem, not just in India. Several factors contribute towards such a situation. One of them is an Indian phenomenon called — luxurious litigation. It is a specific type of litigation wherein parties with resources attempt to frustrate the judicial process and delay it by filing numerous proceedings across the judicial system,” he said.
“The sheer number of cases in the Indian judicial system may have to be viewed in the context that India is the largest democratic republic in the world. The people believe in the Constitutional project,” he said.