Daily Answer Writing
08 April 2021

Q) The alternate dispute resolution focuses more on quick justice than substantive justice. Critically analyse (150 Words)

Source: The Hindu OPED page: For Lok Adalats, speed overrides quality

GS 2: Polity

Approach Answer:

Introduction: Alternative Dispute resolution(ADR) methods are those which escape the litigation path in search of quick and easy resolution of disputes. These methods include resolution in Lok Adalats, arbitration, mediation, conciliation, negotiation, facilitation and avoidance.

 

They provide various advantages over Courts:

               1. Amicable solution: For example it is a party-driven process, allowing litigants to reach an amicable settlement.

               2. Speed of settlement: When compared to litigation, alternative dispute resolution devices, such as arbitration and mediation can clear a dispute within days if not months. Lok Adalats offer parties speed of settlement, as cases are often disposed of in a single day;

               3. Procedural flexibility: as there is no strict application of procedural laws such as the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872;

               4. Economic affordability: Time equals money. Cases in courts can go on for years increasing the costs exponentially. ADR mechanism is much more cost effective as there are no court fees and significantly less lawyer fees.

               5. Finality of awards: as no further appeal is allowed on the agreement reached between two parties. This prevents delays in settlement of disputes.

               6. Extra security of awards: For example the award issued by a Lok Adalat, after the filing of a joint compromise petition, has the status of a civil court decree.

              

Thus ADR mechanisms mainly focus on simplicity and convenience of the litigants. This is the main reason for its effectiveness. For example they are very effective in settlement of money claims. Disputes like partition suits, damages and matrimonial cases can also be easily settled by ADR as the scope for compromise through an approach of give and take is high in these cases.

 

However there are various Problems in such settlements:

               1. Asymmetry of power: For example in Lok Adalats, in a majority of cases, litigants are pitted against entities with deep pockets, such as insurance companies, banks, electricity boards, among others.

               2. Compromise mainly by those who can't afford costs: In most cases, such litigants have to accept discounted future values of their claims instead of their just entitlements, or small compensations, just to bring a long-pending legal process to an end. Even a disaster like the Bhopal gas tragedy was coercively settled for a paltry sum, with real justice still eluding thousands of victims.

               3. Anti-women in cases of matrimony: The so-called ‘harmony ideology’ of the state are virtually dictated by family courts to compromise matrimonial disputes under a romanticised view of marriage.

               4. No Justice against wilful civil offences: Courts can take a note of history of offences but in many ADR mechanism involving compromises such history is overlooked.

               5. Compromise on Idea of Justice: Justice means which is just and fair to all parties. ADR mechanisms might not represent this idea.

 

Conclusion: The material and social situation of the litigants forces them to approach ADR mechanism, which is cost effective. However, such mechanism might not always be fair to all parties and may favour the mighty. Thus it is not a substantive justice. The real justice can only prevail in the society when the mainstream judicial system is made efficient.

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