Utilise ADR services to bring down pendency of cases: SC judge

SC judge Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla said the subordinate judiciary lags in referring cases to mediation forums. 

Chennai: Supreme Court judge Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla today advised the subordinate judiciary to utilise the services of Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) mechanism to bring down the huge number of pending cases.

He said the subordinate judiciary lags in referring cases to mediation forums. In this context, he recalled an amendment to Civil Procedure Code in 1999 and brought into effect in 2002, enabling out of court settlement of disputes through the Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR).

The judge was speaking after inaugurating the regional conference on mediation, involving the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Union territory of Pondicherry.

He noted that between 2005 and 2015, 38,592 cases were referred to mediation and conciliation centres in Tamil Nadu, of which only 6,359 were settled, constituting 18 per cent.

"It shows we have our own shortcomings. A total of 8,644 cases lapsed. This data reveals the unmotivated state of affairs as far as mediation is concerned in the state."

The five aspects requiring immediate attention were referring cases to mediation, lack of skills, disinclination shown by litigants, poor infrastructure and a reasonable honorarium, he said.

Chief Justice of Madras High Court Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said litigants win cases by spending more money than relief and added that the element of fight should be reduced in litigations.

"Reaching an amicable settlement to both parties is a social issue," he said.

Chief Justice of Chattisgarh High Court Justice Navin Sinha suggested that mediation be made a compulsory pre-litigation requirement at least for certain types of cases as was being done in the United States.

Making mediation attempt compulsory before a case is filed can bring down the number of cases filed, he said.

Justice Satish K Agnihotri, who also spoke, cited the Vedas, describing Lord Krishna as the first ever mediator and invoked Prophet Mohammed, to lay stress on mediation and conciliation as an effective alternative to adversarial litigation system to settle/prevent cases.

He said Lord Krishna attempted mediation between the Pandavas and Kauravas and that Prophet Mohamed had said one who turns to amicable settlement turns to prosperity.