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“Indian judiciary playing pivotal role in promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms”

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has said that the Indian judiciary is playing a pivotal role in promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, particularly in arbitration and mediation and the country’s courts have consistently adopting an arbitration-friendly approach which is strengthening the confidence of the stakeholders.

In an exclusive to Praveen K Singh of The Legal Observer, the Law Minister Rijiju talked about how the Indian judiciary has been proactive in promotion of ADR mechanism. He also talked about the extraordinary reforms which have been brought in the last eight years of the Modi Government.   

Following are the excerpts:

With the continuous rise in the load of cases in Indian courts, how do you see the future of mediation law and alternate dispute resolution mechanism in the country?

Indian judiciary is playing a pivotal role in promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, particularly in arbitration and mediation and the country’s courts have consistently adopted an arbitration-friendly approach which has strengthened the confidence of the stakeholders.

Recently the Supreme Court paved the way for enforcement of emergency arbitral awards in India seated arbitrations in the Amazon-Future Group case.

The Indian judiciary has always been proactive in promotion of ADR mechanism and this is bringing faith of all the stake holders. The courts in our country have consistently adopted arbitration friendly approach.

I have a firm belief that the mediation law will prove to be an pivotal reform towards providing comprehensive recognition to mediation and enabling the growth of a culture of amicable settlement of disputes out of court.

To keep pace with current developments in the arbitration space and to enable arbitration as a viable dispute resolution mechanism, the Indian arbitration law has undergone significant amendments in 2015, 2019 and 2021.

The changes in law signal a paradigm shift for ensuring timely conclusion of arbitration proceedings, minimising judicial intervention in the arbitral process and enforcement of arbitral awards. The amendments are further aimed at promoting institutional arbitration, updating the law to reflect best global practices and resolve ambiguities thereby establishing an arbitration ecosystem where arbitral institutions can flourish.

The legislative framework has been enabled to promote institutional arbitrations by the proposed establishment of Arbitration Council of India (ACI) which would grade arbitral institutes in the country.

The judicial system in India is under tremendous pressure. As of May 2022, over 4.7 crore cases are pending in courts across different levels of the judiciary. How do you react to this and what solutions do you have in your mind as the Minister?

The pandemic brought a number of disruptions in day to day life. Even then, we managed to run our courts effectively through our efforts of digitisation having e-filing and e-payment facilities. Summons were being issued digitally and judgments have been made and online copies are available on the website. In the last eight years of the government, 46 judges have been appointed in the apex court and 743 in the high courts. Over 300 new posts have been created in the 25 high courts across the country. There has also been increase in the approved strength of judges from 984 in 2014 to 1104 in 2022.

At the global level how do you see the rise of India in terms of its role in solving international disputes?

India has made a great progress in areas of development and governance at domestic level it has left a mark in encouraging cooperation amongst the countries at a global level.

For the first time India will assume the presidency of the G-20 from December 1 this year till November 30, 2023 culminating with the holding of G-20 Summit in India in 2023.

As we know the G-20 nations, of which India is a founding member, hold a strategic role in securing future global economic growth and prosperity. To achieve this objective, a continuous exercise is required in respective jurisdictions inter-alia to strengthen enforcement of contracts and related alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Such measures will promote increased economic and financial cooperation amongst the various countries.

A successful settlement not only helps in preserving the relationship amongst the parties offering ease of living but also contributes in the growth of the economy.

Now with eight years of BJP in power, what all do you see as the major achievements of the government?

We have brought in several changes in the system. A digital ecosystem has been created for the next generation justice delivery system in the country where each court is connected through broadband, having a video conferencing facility that helps judges to hold online court proceedings. The e-courts phase II are also been delivering on its targets. Digitisation has brought in an immense relief in the judiciary sector. It has also helped in connecting courtrooms to prisons.

Virtual courts have helped in disposing off cases, where without the presence for the citizens in a physical courtroom.   

Post May 2014, my government has implemented a number initiatives ensuring both ease of living and ease of doing business. At least 722 fast-track courts have been operationalised, which includ 406 Posco courts, leading to disposal of more than 87,000 pending rape and Posco Act cases. An ecosystem has been created to make India an arbitration hub. Towards ease of doing business and faster disposal of disputes, dedicated commercial courts have been started at the district level. Judicial infrastructure has been upgraded at a massive scale, providing hundreds of new court-halls and living quarters for judges.

Having the colonial roots, the sedition law has served as an effective tool in the hands of the British imperialist rulers to criminalise dissent against its actions and policies.  Even the Supreme Court has asked the Central Government for repealing the provision. How do you see this and do you think that even state governments are misusing provisions of sedition laws?

No, I don’t think that from the government side this has been misused ever. Our government position has been clear that any provisions under the Constitution or any act of law are being invoked appropriately as per the requirement of the law. If any court is interpreting it differently, I cannot comment on that. But, from government’s side there has been no misuse of the law. 

There have been several instances where such matter have been challenged in courts and dismissal of the cases and actions of the government vacated by the courts. If by the judiciary such stands have been taken, it can be well understood. However, as far as the Central Government is concerned, I can vouch that we have never misused any law. There has been never ever any instance that the law have been invoked. Government has taken steps only when they observed that someone has acted against the nation. Anti-national activities all together.

The nation is first, its sanctity is more important. Government’s objectivity is to secure the national interests. That cannot be compromised with.   

Praveen Singh
Praveen Singh
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