Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Ayog
Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Ayog

Government working on strengthening ADR, Online Dispute resolution to lessen the burden of Courts: Niti Aayog CEO

Amitabh Kant made the comment while delivering the Keynote address for an IDRC Lexidem Webinar on ‘Online Dispute Resolution - Opportunities and Challenges.

Bar & Bench

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog on Saturday that the Government has prioritised the strengthening of Alternative Dispute Resolution systems and online dispute resolution to lessen the burden on Courts, more so considering that they may be a deluge of cases arising post the COVID-19 pandemic.

While delivering the Keynote address for an IDRC Lexidem Webinar on ‘Online Dispute Resolution - Opportunities and Challenges, Kant said,

India is at a cusp of transformative change with use of Technology in the Judicial System and our Supreme Court is leading us in innovative ways. Government is committed to strengthen the Alternative Dispute Resolution System and Online Dispute Resolution so that it can lessen the burden on our Courts so that they can focus on more complex cases.”

He added, “Chief Justice of India SA Bobde has highlighted that use of Artificial Intelligence in Judicial Domain will enhance the efficiency of Courts in non-decision making aspects. Justice DY Chandrachud has introduced eFiling in our Courts under eCourts Project and this will revolutionise the judicial functioning and is a game changer.”

The event also saw participation of –

  • Richard Wilmot-Smith, QC, Barrister-Arbitrator and Head of 39, Essex Chambers, London

  • Shobana Iyer, Barrister-Arbitrator, Swan Chambers, London

  • Tanmaya Mehta, Advocate, Supreme Court of India

Divyansh Hanu Rathi, Managing Partner, Lexidem & Rathi moderated the event. The event was organised by the Indian Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC), a Not for Profit Organization established by the Indian Dispute Resolution Council' with its own ADR Rules.

In his address Richard Wilmot-Smith, QC shared that, “Initially people had hesitations and some kind of fear in adopting virtual hearings but now all that is fading away. Now Online Dispute Resolution has made it possible that Arbitrator is in one Country, Expert Witness and Lawyer in other and they all carry on proceedings in an Electronic room. This is also reducing the travel related Carbon footprints.”

Shobana Iyer, Barrister detailed the developments taking place in the United Kingdom. While being the Chair on Remote Hearing in UK, she said that she has realised that enhanced use of technology has solved many problems thrown by the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, she added that there are several challenges relating to fair hearings, recording of deposition of witnesses, poor broadband connectivity and like.

Advocate Tanmaya Mehta talked about the positives and challenges in virtual hearings. He added that he is pleasantly surprised at the pace at which our Judiciary and Bar adopted the technology.

The World Bank publishes 'Doing Business Report' every year and ranks Countries on Ease of Doing Business. In 2014 India was 142nd rank on EoDB – Ease of Doing Business, whereas in 2020 Report it has improved to 63rd rank out of 191 Countries. However as far as ‘Enforcement of Contract’ is concerned India was 178th in 2016 and is currently still at poor 163rd rank. India aspires to jump at least 50 ranks by the time 2021 World Bank Report is published.

This makes strengthening of Dispute Resolution infra a priority for the Government. which includes Institutional Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation as well as Commercial Courts. Recently, the Parliament promulgated New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Act, 2019 and is in the process of establishing an Arbitration Council of India.

In this context Amitabh Kant commented that,

There will be a deluge of cases post COVID and we need a collaborative mechanism for dispute resolution that do not require parties to approach Courts for most small and medium value disputes and they could potentially be resolved by adopting alternate means of dispute resolution. We need a range of ADR and ODR Solutions and we will work to strengthen them.”
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