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(a). CONCERNING SPREADING AWARENESS OF MEDIATION:
As per Section 89, Code of Civil Procedure, now it is a statutory obligation on the courts that when there is an element of settlement in any dispute, the courts shall refer the dispute, inter alia for mediation. For this, it is necessary that public awareness campaign be conducted to aware the masses about the settlement of disputes through mediation process. We are exploring the possibilities of sending mediation brochures alongwith the summons/notices informing the parties about this Alternative Dispute Redressal mechanism. Conferences, Seminars and Legal Aid Camps are proposed to be organized at the district, block, Tehsil level and also at the far-flung remote areas of our State, so that Litigants, Lawyers and Judicial Officers are sensitized with the usefulness of the mediation techniques and can utilize this innovative methods of settling disputes amicably.
(b). CONCERNING TRAINING FOR MEDIATORS AND REFERRAL JUDGES:
We found that imparting effective training to the judicial officers/lawyers to become mediators is vital for the success of the mediation centres. Our High Court is taking initiatives for training of-
a) Referral Judges/Co-ordinators
(c). CONCERNING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR MEDIATION CENTRES:
We are of the view that mediation centres should have necessary infrastructure, so as to create congenial atmosphere for the mediation proceedings. For this, we are looking for the availability of sufficient budget.
To implement above resolutions/ideas and to ensure the benefits of this method of ADR to common masses, we are proposing to take this as pilot project by coordinating between the four essential pillars i.e. Government, Bench, Bar and Litigant as a system and we have already started working on these lines.
As stated above, although at the instance of NALSA, initially 08 districts have been identified for setting-up Mediation centres but in all the 13 districts of the State, mediation centres are already functional within the resources available in the judgeship. In the State of Uttarakhand, a total number of about 1.66 lakhs and about 18,660 cases are presently pending in the Lower Courts and High Court respectively. Since, pendency of the cases in the State of Uttarakhand, is not a very serious concern, it has been decided to, in the first instance mediation centres be established only in 08 districts, where there is maximum litigation. These statistics reveal that in most of the hill districts, the pendency of cases is not as such which would require an urgent and immediate measure to deploy the mechanism of the Alternative Dispute Resolution including mediation and conciliation for settlement of the cases. Nevertheless, all efforts are being made to infuse the concept of mediation all over the State by establishing the full fledged mediation centres in entire state. At present, in the 08 districts, in which the pendency is comparatively higher then the other districts, all assistance is being provided to ensure that adequate accommodation and proper infrastructure should be available for proper functioning of these mediation centres. The future outlook in this regard is;
(1) To ensure that adequate accommodation is available for the efficient functioning of the mediation centres which includes reception centres, waiting room, drinking water, toilet room etc.
(2) To ensure that mediation centres are being composed of trained mediators.
(3) To ensure that sufficient number of mediators are available for making these mediation centres functional in efficient and desired manner.
(4) To ensure that Hon’ble Judges/Referral Judges are also be imparted training in the field.
(5) To ensure developing and promoting the concept of ADR through out the State specially in the far-flung, hill and remote areas of our State by public education and awareness campaigns.
(6) To ensure increasing access to the justice through mediation centres by expansion and establishment of these centres in all of the 13 districts of our State.
Unless implementation of any project is monitored or reviewed, time to time, the bottlenecks cannot be identified and removed. In this regard, we have ensured that the efficiency of mediation centres functioning in our State be monitored regularly on monthly or bimonthly basis. It would help us to assess the performance and usefulness of the mediation centres.
Success of mediation centre does not depend entirely upon the number of cases referred to the centre but it depends upon the quality of cases, number of settled cases and at last but not the least the satisfaction of the litigants, referred to it. Keeping in view the low pendency in most of the districts of the State, even continuation or non-continuation of full fledged mediation centres at many places may require review or even its constitution may be reassessed to make the implementation of the project a success.
In the small hilly State of Uttarakhand, despite of many constraints, we have taken many steps for implementation of the Mediation & Conciliation Project. Many things have to be done in near future to make the project a success in our State. Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.S. Verma, Chairman, Mediation Monitoring Committee has been constantly guiding and monitoring the project to make the mission and our vision a success. We are relentlessly working in the field under the directions received, time to time, from Mediation & Conciliation Project Committee (MCPC), Supreme Court of India, to achieve our motto of making the mediation project an all round success.