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An affordable ADR is the need of the hour: Justice Ravindra Bhat

Supreme Court judge Justice S Ravindra Bhat in an order said that to make the alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms effective, it should be affordable to all.

Justice Bhat said that we need to reach a level wherein pro bono mediators can be appointed for those individuals or small-time business who cannot otherwise shoulder the expense associated with it.

He stated, “If ADR is to be an effective dispute resolution mechanism, it needs to be affordable by all – access to quality proceedings cannot be the right of the privileged few”.

Justice Bhat spoke this, during the launch of the book by advocate Iram Majid called ‘Mediation: Theory to Practice’.

Justice Bhat said that traditional adversarial proceedings do not allow consideration of complicated feelings of the parties and emotions, which makes resolution a bit difficult. Mediation is the only option which can address this aspect directly.

The Judge added that Mediation makes space for parties to air their differing views in a controlled environment. The ability to put the offender in the shoes of the offended in order to bring home the true effects of one’s words/actions is a powerful technique, which enables mediation to resolve disputes more efficaciously than traditional approaches in some cases.

He also added that the aspect of mediation and ADR is captured very well in Majid’s book.

Praising about the book, during the launch he said “This is eloquently captured in Ms Majid’s analysis of transformational conflict ideology, in which the mediator instead of endeavoring towards a definite settlement, tries to increase the alternatives available by compelling parties to empathize and understand each other’s perspective, thereby attempting to restore them to their former amicable status. In chapter 3 of the book, Ms Majid draws on dispute resolution practices from various cultures to successfully demonstrate this.”

Justice Bhat said that post Covid ,our reliance has increased on technology which has augmented Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).

Speaking further, Justice Bhat said In traditional mediation wherein the parties have to travel long distances to attend the proceedings, ODR saves valuable time and resources. Its promising to witness significant strides being taken towards modernizing mediation – such as utilization of video conferencing to conduct proceedings, software applications to sift through mass volumes of submissions made thereby allowing the Mediator to focus on the most imperative information, and efforts made by the government in its recommendations provided by the NITI Aayog Expert committee on ODR.”

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