'There is public frustration over tardy litigation': Pranab Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said there is a high degree of public frustration over the complexity of laws, long delays and unproductive use of their resources in litigation, and advised that alternate dispute redressal mechanism like mediation should be used to provide speedy justice.
"It is important to recognize that despite the robust, independent and impartial judicial system we have in our country, the unfortunate reality is that legal disputes can be both protracted and expensive. There is a high degree of public frustration over the complexity of the laws, long delays and unproductive use of their resources in litigation," said President Mukherjee in his speech on the occasion of inauguration of the National District Mediation Conference.
"Many social conflicts have also got transformed into legal disputes, which accentuates the problem rather than resolve them. Promotion and popularisation of alternate methods of dispute settlement is therefore the need of the hour. Alternate dispute resolution mechanisms not only facilitate speedier justice but is also a process wherein the parties involved have control over the eventual outcome. This results in quick implementation of the decisions taken and eliminates continued litigation in the form of further appeals," he added.
President Mukherjee said 'notably if a matter gets resolved by mediation, then a substantial part of the court fees deposited by the litigant also gets returned to them'.
"It is for these reasons that throughout the business world, and especially in common law jurisdictions, there is a recognition that properly conducted mediations are the most effective means by which parties in civil and commercial disputes can resolve the matters that divide them," said President Mukherjee.
"It is well known that mediation can play a very useful role in amicable resolution of matrimonial and family matters. Disputes amongst Government departments and agencies are also perhaps best resolved through out of court mediation rather than litigation," he added.
President Mukherjee said 'mediation as process of dispute resolution is not new to India'.
"Much before the British arrived, the Panchayat system of India was a forum where respected village elders assisted in resolving disputes within the community. Such traditional mediation continues to be prevalent in villages and our tribal communities even today," said President Mukherjee.
"In pre-British India, mediation was popular among businessmen. Impartial and respected businessmen were requested by business association members to resolve disputes using an informal procedure, which combined techniques similar to those that exist today. Even though these processes lacked legal authority, such mediation processes were regularly used and commonly accepted by Indian disputants," he added.
President Mukherjee said the British regime brought with them the system of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, which continues till date.
"But alternative dispute resolution processes continued to reinvent themselves post independence and in 1987 with the introduction of the Legal Services Authorities Act, we saw the revival of the ancient mediation process in the new form of Lok Adalats," he added.
President Mukherjee further said 'legal education in today's India also needs to incorporate alternate methods of dispute resolution as an essential course for a new breed of socially conscious lawyers'.