The Constitution of India spells out egalitarian urges with socio-economic goals, imposing upon all the organs of the State the responsibility to promote the Constitutional ethos and the goals. The existence of a properly functioning justice system increases citizens’ confidence and their willingness to bring disputes to court. Unfortunately, the picture of the Indian legal system at present appears gloomy. The masses are filled with dismay and frustration. Courts are becoming outmoded; litigative justice has come to a grinding halt. The impatience and anxieties has to be checked by providing simpler methods of dispute resolution. One of the answers is to evolve ADR methods as an adjunct of judicial system. In order to cope with needs of the people and provide them the inherent right of access to justice, the task is to empower the existing ADR systems with more strength. The accelerated pressure upon the judicial system would also be reduced with empowering ADR system.
The present paper aims to give suggestions to adopt ADRs in the Indian legal system. Our legal system is under stress and strain. The suggestions outlined are based on the premises that the true concept of access to justice signifies justice for the ignorant and illiterate masses. The radical transformation is required so that justice itself reaches the people- without waiting period.
ADR is now becoming more than dispute resolution in the strict sense of the term, and also encompasses conflict avoidance, conflict management and conflict resolution. ADRs offer a solution to the problem of access to justice faced by citizens in many countries due to three factors: the volume of disputes brought before courts is increasing, the proceedings are becoming more lengthy and the costs incurred by such proceedings are increasing.
From the menu of various methods , parties may choose to use, with the intent of removing a potential source of conflict, preventing its escalation into a dispute, and finding the way back to a constructive cooperative and a potentially productive future working relationship.
- Parallel ADR institutions must develop largely in all parts of the country. They must be established at remote levels in the same manner the Courts of law have been established.
- Each Court must have Arbitration and Mediation Centres. This would ensure that the disputes capable of being solved through any of the ADR methods be first taken over by the ADR forum. If parties fail to arrive at settlement, only then the matter be taken to the Courts.
- The Arbitration and Meditation Centres/Institutions presently existing in India mostly cater to the commercial disputes. The need is to either establish new private bodies for non-commercial disputes (such as family disputes).
- The establishment, empowerment and legal recognition of ADR bodies in the country would be of no use unless the people are aware as well as keen to choose ADR over the Courts.
- The knowledge of ADR options can be given to the weaker-poor sections by performing street plays regularly. Such performance has to be made in the local dialect and language of respective areas.
Till the time, ADR emerges as parallel mechanism to legal system, measures must be taken to encourage more voluntary use of ADRs.
At stake is the promise of justice to the people made under the Constitution of India. ADR mechanisms are, in fact the hope to fulfil the Constitutional promises. ADR- by reason of simplicity, less technicality, the privatized nature and speedier nature is the promising solution to ensure access to justice in the country. The civil disputants should be encouraged to explore whether their dispute can be resolved by agreement, whether directly or with the help of a third party mediator or conciliator, rather than by proceeding to a formal – winner v. loser decision by a court. ADR must be integrated into the civil justice system, as it is an important mechanism in providing greater access to individualized justice for citizens in appropriate cases. Changes have to be embraced enthusiastically by the legal system.