The first elaborate training for mediators was conducted in Ahmedabad in the year 2000 by American trainers sent by Institute for the Study and Development of Legal Systems (ISDLS). It was followed by a few repeated advance training workshops conducted by Institute for Arbitration Mediation Legal Education and Development (AMLEAD) a Public Charitable Trust settled by two senior lawyers of Ahmedabad. On 27th July 2002, the Chief Justice of India, formally inaugurated the Ahmedabad Mediation Centre, reportedly the first lawyer-managed mediation centre in India. The Chief Justice of India called a meeting of the Chief Justices of all the High Courts of the Indian States in November, 2002 at New Delhi to impress upon them the importance of mediation and the need to implement Sec. 89 of Civil Procedure Code. Institute for Arbitration Mediation Legal Education and Development (AMLEAD) and the Gujarat Law Society introduced, in January 2003, a thirty-two hours Certificate Course for “Intensive training in Theory and Practice of Mediation”. The U.S. Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) organized training workshops at Jodhpur, Hyderabad and Bombay in June 2003. The Chennai Mediation Centre was inaugurated on 9th April, 2005 and it started functioning in the premises of the Madras High Court. This became the first Court-Annexed Mediation centre in India. The Delhi Judicial Academy organized a series of mediation training workshops and opened a mediation centre in the Academy’s campus appointing its Deputy Director as the mediator. Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre has been regularly organizing mediation awareness workshops and Advanced Mediation Training workshops.
The Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee (MCPC) was constituted by the then Chief Justice of India Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti by order dt. 9thApril, 2005. Hon’ble Mr. Justice N. Santosh Hegde was its first Chairman. It consisted of other judges of the Supreme Court and High Court, Senior Advocates and Member Secretary of NALSA. The Committee in its meeting held on 11th July, 2005 decided to initiate a pilot project of judicial mediation in Tis Hazari Courts. The success of it led to the setting up of a mediation centre at Karkardooma in 2006, and another in Rohini in 2009. Four regional Conferences were held by the MCPC in 2008 at Banglore, Ranchi, Indore and Chandigarh.
MCPC has been taking the lead in evolving policy matters relating to the mediation. The committee has decided that 40 hours training and 10 actual mediation was essential for a mediator. The committee was sanctioned a grant-in-aid by the department of Legal Affairs for undertaking mediation training programme, referral judges training programme, awareness programme and training of trainers programme. With the above grant-in-aid, the committee has conducted till March, 2010, 52 awareness programmes/ referral judges training programmes and 52 Mediation training programmes in various parts of country. About 869 persons have undergone 40 hours training. The committee is in the process of finalizing a National Mediation Programme. Efforts are also made to institutionalize its functions and to convert it as the apex body of all the training programmes in the country.
The Constitutional validity of section 89 of C.P.C. has been upheld by the Supreme Court in Salem Bar Association, Tamil Nadu vs. Union of India. The Supreme Court also clarified possible conflict between Section 89 and Order 10 Rule1-A and even addressed the need for mediation in India in Salem Bar Association, Tamil Nadu vs. Union of India. The Supreme Court appointed a committee chaired by Justice Mr. Jagannadha Rao, the chairman of the Law Commission of India, to suggest and frame rules for ironing out the creases, if any, in the new law and for implementation of mediation procedures in civil courts. The Law Commission prepared consultation papers on Mediation and Case Management and framed and circulated model Rules. The Supreme Court approved the model rules and directed every High Court to frame them. The Law Commission of India organized an International conference on Case Management, Conciliation and Mediation at New Delhi on 3rdand 4thMay 2003, which was a great success. Delhi District Courts invited ISDLS to train their Judges as mediators and help in establishing court annexed mediation centre. Delhi High Court started its own lawyers managed mediation and conciliation centre. Karnataka High Court also started a court-annexed mediation and conciliation centre and trained their mediators with the help of ISDLS. Now court-annexed mediation centres have been started in trial courts at Allahabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Surat and many more Districts in India.
Mandatory mediation through courts has now a legal sanction. Court-Annexed Mediation and Conciliation Centres are now established at several courts in India and the courts have started referring cases to such centres. In Court-Annexed Mediation the mediation services are provided by the court as a part and parcel of the same judicial system as against Court-Referred Mediation, wherein the court merely refers the matter to a mediator. One feature of court-annexed mediation is that the judges, lawyers and litigants become participants therein, thereby giving them a feeling that negotiated settlement is achieved by all the three actors in the justice delivery system. When a judge refers a case to the court-annexed mediation service, keeping overall supervision on the process, no one feels that the system abandons the case. The Judge refers the case to a mediator within the system. The same lawyers who appear in a case retain their briefs and continue to represent their clients before the mediators within the same set-up. The litigants are given an opportunity to play their own participatory role in the resolution of disputes. This also creates public acceptance for the process as the same time-tested court system, which has acquired public confidence because of integrity and impartiality, retains its control and provides an additional service. In court-annexed mediation, the court is the central institution for resolution of disputes. Where ADR procedures are overseen by the court, at least in those cases which are referred through courts, the effort of dispensing justice can become well-coordinated.
ADR services, under the control, guidance and supervision of the court would have more authenticity and smooth acceptance. It would ensure the feeling that mediation is complementary and not competitive with the court system. The system will get a positive and willing support from the judges who will accept mediators as an integral part of the system. If reference to mediation is made by the judge to the court annexed mediation services, the mediation process will become more expeditious and harmonized. It will also facilitate the movement of the case between the court and the mediator faster and purposeful. Again, it will facilitate reference of some issues to mediation leaving others for trial in appropriate cases. Court annexed mediation will give a feeling that court’s own interest in reducing its caseload to manageable level is furthered by mediation and therefore reference to mediation will be a willing reference. Court annexed mediation will thus provide an additional tool by the same system providing continuity to the process, and above all, the court will remain a central institution for the system. This will also establish a public-private partnership between the court and the community. A popular feeling that the court works hand-in-hand with mediation facility will produce satisfactory and faster settlements.
(2003) 1 SCC 49. Relevant paras 9 to 11.
(2005) 6 SCC 344. Relevant paras 54 & 55.
Image Source: John Quigley, mediator