Online Dispute Resolution (Press Release 11th Feb 2022)

Video conferencing has emerged as the mainstay of the Courts during the ongoing Covid pandemic period as physical hearings and normal court proceedings in the congregational mode were not possible. To facilitate dispensation of justice in such time one video conference equipment each has been provided to all court complexes including taluk level courts and additionally funds have been sanctioned for additional VC equipment for 14,443 court rooms. Funds for setting up 2506 VC Cabins have been made available. Additional 1500 VC Licenses have been acquired. VC facilities are already enabled between 3240 court complexes and corresponding 1272 jails. A sum of Rs. 7.60 crore has been released for procurement of 1732 Document Visualizers. Further, Judicial Service Centres (JSC) have been established to serve as a single window for filing petitions and applications by litigants / lawyers, and for obtaining information on ongoing cases and copies of orders and judgments etc. In addition, e-Sewa Kendras have been rolled out to bridge the digital divide by providing eFiling services to lawyers and litigants. Government has released Rs. 12.54 crore for setting up e-Sewa Kendras. As on 31.12.2021, 451 eSewa Kendra’s have been made functional in District Courts under 25 High Courts. Also, training programs and awareness campaigns have been conducted from time to time to train various stakeholders and familiarise them with court digitisation initiatives. Data/information relating to private dispute resolution centres is not collated by the Government.

The concept of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India is at a nascent stage.  The NITI Aayog had constituted a high level committee to take it forward and the report of the committee titled “Designing the future of dispute Resolution: the ODR Policy Plan for India” was released on 29.11.2021.  It inter-alia recommends for mainstreaming of ODR in India, as a cost effective, convenient, efficient process which can be customised to the specific needs of the parties, considering the nature of the dispute.  The Government of India has also acknowledged the importance of online dispute resolution and proposes to provide legal sanction to ODR by way of requisite provisions in the Mediation Bill, 2021 introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 20.12.2021.  The Bill recognizes online pre-litigation mediation as an acceptable and cost effective process of dispute resolution thereby removing the distance barrier for parties.

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, in Lok Sabha today.

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