Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday said that Indian citizens can put their faith in the judiciary to get relief when “things go wrong”, reported The Hans India.
“People are confident that they will get relief and justice from the judiciary,” said the chief justice. “It gives them the strength to pursue a dispute. They know that when things go wrong, the judiciary will stand by them. The Indian Supreme Court is the guardian of the largest democracy.”
He was virtually addressing the India-Singapore Mediation Summit 2021 on Saturday.
Ramana added that it was uncharitable and an overstatement to accuse the pendency of cases on judicial delay. “The term ‘pendency’ is used to refer to all cases which have not yet been disposed of, without any reference to how long the case has spent in the judicial system...,” Ramana said, according to The Hindu. “This is, therefore, not a useful indicator of how well, or poorly, a system is doing.”
The judge said that even a case filed 24 hours earlier has been added to the pendency statistic of 45 million cases.
Chief reasons for delay in resolution of cases were “luxurious litigation” and the large number of cases, he said.
“It [luxurious litigation] is a specific type of litigation wherein parties with resources attempt to frustrate the judicial process and delay it by filing numerous proceedings across the judicial system,” Ramana said, according to The Hindu. “Undeniably, the prevailing pandemic has also contributed to our woes.”
Grassroots alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as Lok Adalats had helped resolve many cases, he noted.
He said that more than 7.84 million cases were settled by Lok Adalats in 2019 and 2020. “Nearly 3.94 million cases were settled at the pre-litigation stage,” Ramana said. “This is despite the pandemic and was possible by building an efficient online dispute resolution system in India.”
Ramana also highlighted the “moral dilemma” of mediators operating in the economically and socially diverse realms of the country.
“What happens when one party is better situated – economically, socially and politically – than the other?” Ramana asked mediators. “What is the duty of a mediator if the settlement reached is patently unjust to the weaker party? Should the mediator be a silent spectator during such negotiations?”
These questions must be considered, especially in India, which has a diverse social fabric, the chief justice added. “The requirements of substantive equality are a bedrock of every Constitutional democracy, and these ideals must be reflected even during the dispute resolution process,” he said.