Mediate, not litigate

Mediate, not litigate: Disputes can be settled outside courtrooms if there is a willingness among businesses to try alternative mechanisms...

May 16, 2016
Out of court
refers to HBL editorial ‘Mediate, not litigate” (May 16). This is a timely suggestion at a
time courts in India are burdened with over 30 million pending cases across the
country with inadequate infrastructure and manpower to handle even a fraction
of them during the current decade.
Recently, while referring to unfilled
vacancies in courts and helplessness due to shortage of hands to handle pending
cases at various levels, the Chief Justice of India became emotional on a dais
where Prime Minister Modi was also present.
For a moment even
Prime Minister must have been shocked which made him search for
words and make a guarded official statement that ‘if constitutional barriers do
not create any problems, then top ministers and senior Supreme Court judges can
sit together to find a solution to the issue’. Knowing the ‘Modi’ way of
looking at issues, one would have expected a promise to ensure quick action to
fill up existing vacancies in the judiciary at all levels and an assurance to
resolve other issues flagged by CJI in a time-bound manner.
The wake-up call from CJI on April 24
is more than a warning and nation can ill-afford to ignore the message
demanding prompt remedial action. The immediate measures could include:

Segregating cases which need to be
decided within a year and taking them on a priority basis by the courts now in
Leaving the remaining cases to new
Special Courts to be put in place at all levels depending on the number of
pending cases.
Ensuring vacancies of judges at all
levels are filled quickly.
Making it compulsory for government and
public sector organizations to expedite procedures where they are on either
side of the matters before courts. This is necessary as there is laxity on
their side as cost and delay seldom affects the individuals who handle cases in
government and public sector. This position is slowly creeping into big
corporates also, where individuals do not feel the burden of cash outflow for
fighting court cases.
Making necessary legislative changes to
reduce procedural delays.
Simultaneous efforts to encourage
concerned parties to settle issues out of court. This method would bear fruit
where party on one side of the dispute is government or quasi-government
Advocates can play a proactive role by
sharing the responsibility for procedural delays by charging less for appearing
for cases depending on the category of clients and their capacity to pay.
M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram


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