New Delhi: Pitching for generating awareness about mediation as an alternate mode of resolving disputes, President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday cautioned that people were getting frustrated with the complexities of laws and the long delays in settling issues.
“There is a high degree of public frustration over the complexity of laws, long delays and unproductive use of their resources in litigation. Many social conflicts have transformed into legal disputes, which accentuate the problem rather than resolve them,” Mukherjee said.
The president said that it was important to recognise that despite “robust, independent and impartial judicial system we have in our country, the unfortunate reality is that legal disputes can be both protracted and expensive”.
Efforts should be made that alternate dispute resolution should become an integral part of the legal system, Mukherjee said here in his inaugural address at the day-long national district level seminar on mediation organised by the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee of the Supreme Court.
Exhorting that people should be encouraged to take course to mediation rather than litigation, Mukherjee pressed for the need to popularise mediation as a means of resolving disputes at grass-root level.
Promotion and popularisation of alternate method of dispute settlement, the president said, was the need of the hour. Alternate dispute resolution mechanism not only facilitates speedier justice but is also a process wherein the parties involved have control over the eventual outcome.
This, Mukherjee said, “results in quick implementation of decisions and eliminates continued litigation in the form of further appeals. People should be encouraged to take the course of mediation rather than litigation,” urged the president. He said that in mediation with a human touch, there are no winners or losers.
Referring to his own experiences, Mukherjee said that many of the disputes were rooted in communication gaps and were ego-centric. He said that confidentiality and sensitive handling were important to mediation.
“It is my experience that most disputes become difficult to resolve due to either miscommunication or egoism of the individuals involved”, Mukherjee said, adding: “Effective communication combined with sensitivity to the concerns of individuals concerned makes resolution of most disputes possible.”
Having said this, Mukherjee, a mediator, said: “At the very basic level, all that is required is an informal and confidential process and third party assistance that can help negotiate and amicably resolve matters in the common interest.”
“It is not about cutting the pie, but making all feel victorious in the process”, Mukherjee said.
Earlier addressing judges of the subordinate judiciary, lawyers and students from law schools, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir emphasised on the need for “change of mindsets”.
“(The) idea is to help people and that needs the change of mind”, Kabir said, cautioning against the tendency of being wedded to rigidity of rules.
The chief justice said this while recalling an instance of handicapped girl who was seeking callipers but was not being entertained in the course of a Lok Adalat merely because she had not correctly filed the memorandum of appearance.
Pointing to the benefits of the resolving disputes through mediation, Kabir said: “Every matter that is resolved by way of alternate dispute resolution there is no appeal. It is not that there is no provision for appeal but disputes are resolved amicably and to the satisfaction parties to disputes.”
“We have to reach out to the people who are waiting for years for justice,” the chief justice said.
At the seminar, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the first question in mediation is why people disagree and whether disagreement was on subjective grounds or on objective grounds.
Describing Mukherjee as one of the greatest mediators of our times, Khurshid sought to draw commonalities in the mediation and the ironing out of difference and finding common grounds in resolving international and bilateral disputes.
The chief justice later said that the external affairs minister had taken the words out of his mouth. Kabir said that he wanted to start his speech by saying that “we have amongst us a person who is one of the greatest mediators”.