December 24, 2021 - 11:15 am

Mediation Bill, 2021, Sent To Standing Committee. 

    "Justice delayed is justice denied" is a popular adage that suggests the time taken to resolve issues is critical to the attainment of justice for a person seeking justice. However, justice is often delayed in the Indian justice system due to its inability to dispose of cases in a timely manner. Such a judicial backlog is the premise used to advocate the need for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, including mediation as a way of resolving disputes.

    Recently, the Centre introduced in the Rajya Sabha the Mediation Bill, 2021 which institutionalises the ADR mechanism of pre-litigation mediation in matters of civil or commercial dispute before parties approach a court or a tribunal. The government subsequently moved the bill for further consideration into the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice on demand of the opposition parties. It's many objectives include the promotion, encouragement, and facilitation of mediation, especially institutional mediation, enforcement of domestic and international mediation settlement agreements, and notably, making online mediation and acceptable and cost effective process.

     The bill is divided into four parts with Part-I dealing with domestic mediations and Part-IIII dealing with mediations under the Singapore Convention. As per section 2 of the Bill, a domestic mediation has been defined as one conducted in India, where all or both parties habitually reside in or are incorporated in or have their business in India. The mediation agreement provides that the Mediation Act, 2021 would apply to the mediation; or the mediation is international mediation. A salient feature of the bill is the adoption of the international practice of using the terms 'mediation' and 'conciliation' interchangeably, as evident from the meaning of mediation set out under section 4.

    The Bill indeed is a step in the right direction and is equipped with fair shares of constructive provisions which will certainly contribute towards strengthening and promotion of mediation as a viable alternative dispute resolution mechanism in the country. This stand-alone legislation would not only inspire a greater confidence and faith in the mediation process, but also significantly address the concerns of an over-burdened and over-worked adversarial system of Justice.