Calcutta HC stresses on mediation to reduce backlog

Calcutta HC stresses on mediation to reduce backlog

A little over 2.22 lakh cases were pending before the high court as on December 31, 2017, as per official data.

Calcutta High Court. (PTI Photo)

With the number of pending litigations before it touching 2.29 lakh, the Calcutta High Court is stressing on alternative dispute redressal mechanism like mediation to reduce the backlog.

The high court is encouraging litigants involved in various disputes, from commercial to matrimonial issues, to go for mediation to resolve their differences, instead of fighting their cases in the courts that may take a long time before any outcome is reached.

As Justice Harish Tandon of the Calcutta High Court put it, "Mediation is an effective tool for redressal of disputes between contesting litigants, where parties can settle their differences in a win-win situation."

"We have been facing problem in tackling huge pendency of cases," Justice Tandon said in an interaction with mediapersons on mediation as an effective alternative dispute redressal system.

Though the Arbitration and Conciliation Act has been in place since 1996, giving settlement of disputes through mediation a legal sanction, it has not been quite popular among the people, mainly owing to a lack of knowledge about it.

To raise awareness among people, the Mediation and Conciliation Committee of the high court organised a four-day workshop from November 15 in association with the Foundation for Sustainable Rule of Law Initiatives (FSRI) of the USA and CAMP Arbitration and Mediation Practices of Bengaluru.

The programme was aimed at augmenting the process of mediation across West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and bringing down the ever-increasing pile of pending cases in different courts within this region, Justice Tandon said.

It was designed to spread awareness and interact with all kinds of stakeholders in the field of mediation, including the mediators themselves, the litigants, advocates, law firms and referral judges of different district and sub-divisions of West Bengal.

"The concept of pre-litigation mediation in the field of commercial and matrimonial disputes were also discussed," he said.

To achieve the desired exposure of mediation as an effective tool for dispute resolution, the stakeholders decided that awareness programmes would be held to sensitise people at the grassroot level, he said.

On June 30 this year, there were 2,29,103 cases pending before the Calcutta High Court, of which the majority were civil cases at 1,89,976, according to data provided in its website.

Out of a sanctioned judge strength of 72, the Calcutta High Court at present has 40 judges.

Out of the 40, two judges are permanently on rotation at the Andaman and Nicobar circuit bench of the high court and another two judges at the Jalpaiguri circuit bench.

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