This article on ‘Is ADR Truly reducing the Burden on the Indian Judiciary?‘ was written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), refers to the various techniques for resolving a conflict without resorting to litigation and the courts. Our Indian Judiciary is overburdened with the cases, filed from higher to lower courts. ADR is one method that helps the Indian Judiciary reduce the burden and provide solutions to legal disputes in India. But Is ADR truly reducing the burden on the Indian Judiciary?
This article will make you understand what ADR means, what are the different modes of ADR and how effective ADR is, in helping the Indian judiciary to reduce the burden.
What do you mean by ADR?
ADR stands for alternative dispute resolution and refers to a collection of procedures, including mediation, negotiation, conciliation, arbitration, and Lok Adalat, used to resolve conflicts between parties outside of the formal process of adjudication followed by the Courts.
ADR has become an increasingly appealing method of conflict settlement because it maintains privacy, which is perfect for people who wish to avoid going to court. Settling disputes through ADR is not only encouraged at the National level, but the demand for ADR is increasing, internationally also. Its various ways can assist parties in resolving conflicts on their terms in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Why ADR is important?
To cope with the situation of cases pending in Indian courts, ADR plays a significant role in India through its many approaches. The Alternative Dispute Resolution system provides scientifically advanced methods to the Indian bench, allowing it to reduce the pressure on the courts.
As stated in the preamble, the goal of ADR is to promote social-economic and political justice while maintaining the integrity of society. ADR is also based on such fundamental rights as articles 14 and 21, which deal with equality before the law and the right to life and personal liberty, respectively.
Different modes of Alternate Dispute resolution
The different modes of ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) are:
Arbitration is the settlement of a dispute outside of court by one or more (odd number) people designated as arbitrators by both parties. Arbitration of any kind, regardless of its nature, has been made statutorily recognized in India by placing it under the purview of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. It consists of a streamlined trial with streamlined evidence procedures and no discovery.
Negotiation refers to a strategic dialogue that addresses an issue in a way that both sides deem acceptable. In a negotiation, each party attempts to persuade the other to agree with their point of view. Negotiations require some give and take, which implies that one party will always come out on top.
Conciliation is the process of resolving a conflict without resorting to litigation. Conciliation is a form of alternative conflict resolution in which a third party (i.e. the conciliator) meets with the parties to reconcile their differences and settle the dispute.
Mediation is also one of the important methods to resolve disputes. Mediators employ appropriate strategies and/or abilities to initiate and/or improve communication between disputants, with the goal of assisting the parties in reaching an agreement (with real consequences) on the disputed topic. Normally, all parties must regard the mediator as objective.
Mediation can be used in a range of situations, including commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community, and familial matters.
All Lok Adalat hearings are regarded to be judicial proceedings, and each Lok Adalat is deemed to be a Civil Court.
The government-established Lok Adalat (people’s courts) settles disputes via conciliation and compromise. In 1986, Chennai hosted the first Lok Adalat. Lok Adalat takes matters that could be resolved through conciliation and compromise and is currently pending in normal courts under their jurisdiction.
Relevant case laws
In a case, Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. vs. Northern Coal Field Ltd, the Supreme Court ruled that the issue of restriction would be decided by an arbitrator based on the doctrine of kompetenz, which is enshrined in Section 16 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (Arbitration Act) and the legislative intent to limit judicial intervention at the pre-reference level. It further maintained that the statutory goal of the Arbitration Act is for party autonomy and limited court interference in the arbitration process. It was highlighted that the Arbitration Act’s regime requires an arbitrator to resolve all objections and problems once called.
Cheran Properties Ltd. v. Kasturi and Sons Ltd. & Ors.
While recognizing the principle enunciated in Chloro Controls that a non-signatory may be bound by an arbitration agreement in certain circumstances, the Court held that the group of companies doctrine is primarily intended to facilitate the fulfillment of a mutually held intent between the parties, where the circumstances indicate that the intent was to bind both signatories and non-signatories.
The objective is to elicit the genuine content of the business arrangement and to extract from a layered structure of commercial arrangements an intent to bind someone who is not legally a signatory but has assumed the duty to be bound by the conduct of a signatory.
Kerala State Electricity Board and Anr. V. Kurien E. Kathilal
Referring the parties to arbitration has substantial civil ramifications, both procedurally and substantively. The High Court should not have directed the parties to arbitration when there was no arbitration agreement between them, without a joint memo or a joint application, the Supreme Court said in this case.
Is ADR truly reducing the burden on the Indian Judiciary?
ADR procedures have shown considerable promise in addressing issues and serving as additional outlets in India. Lok Adalats have been highly successful in resolving a large number of pending cases in India. It is highly unique in using negotiation, mediation, and conciliation to resolve issues.
But despite all of this, in India, ADR also attracts some demerits. The appointment of an arbitrator, conciliator, mediator, or negotiator is not subject to any strict qualification criteria. This element has left the possibility of passing unfair awards or poor mediation or negotiation open, resulting in continued escalation of problems. Also, the people who are engaged with ADR are the legal practitioners, and it becomes difficult to conclude the legal disputes or conflicts on time. Also, ADR is considered the cheapest way to resolve disputes but, there have also been reports of ADR processes costing far more than traditional court hearings.
While ADR methods continue to thrive in rage, they are not the best solution for every issue. Most mediators and arbitrators charge a fee for their services, and if the parties anticipate that the matter will not be resolved, ADR is a waste of time and resources.
ADR is gradually becoming the preferred method for parties, but India still relies heavily on litigation. However, with the advancement of these ADR technologies and the need to improve access to justice, ADR is being viewed as a necessity.
On the other hand, ADR has its demerits. If the parties don’t get satisfied, this is considered the wastage of time as well as money. ADR is acknowledged worldwide, for its cheapest and most effective way to resolve conflicts, but it is not the best solution to every issue, which is a matter of concern for the judiciary system.
-  Afreen Manzoor. (June 15, 2022). ADR: Concept and Need. Retrieved: https://lawbhoomi.com/adr-concept-and-need/#:~:text=Importance%20of%20ADR%20in%20India,-To%20deal%20with&text=Alternative%20Dispute%20Resolution%20m
-  Sujay Dixit. (ADR Mechanism in India). Retrieved: http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/224/ADR-Mechanism-in-India.html
-  Aparna Jayakumar. (2021, august 10). Growing need for ADR in light of some recent notable case laws. Retrieved: https://blog.ipleaders.in/growing-need-adr-light-recent-notable-case-laws/
-  Tariq khan. (2019, April 6). 50 Landmark Decisions on Arbitration Law in India (2018-2019) – Part I.
- Retrieved: https://www.barandbench.com/columns/50-landmark-decisions-on-arbitration-law-in-india-2018-2019-part-i
-  Tariq khan. (n4)
-  Astha Dhawan. (A Birds Eye View Of Current Scenario Of ADR In India). Retrieved: https://viamediationcentre.org/readnews/MTM2/A-Birds-Eye-View-of-Current-Scenario-of-ADR-in-India