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Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes outside the courtrooms. It involves an independent third party - a mediator - who helps both sides come to an agreement. It is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations such as consumer disputes, contract disputes, family disputes, neighbourhood disputes, etc.
The concept of mediation is not linked to any innovative idea of dispute resolution. The ancient days had seen the Panchas (five respectful senior persons of a village) to solve disputes among people. The technique which was more in vogue at that period of time was a settlement after hearing both sides. This technique had come to be known as mediation and it had been given a more candid and legal approach in the present days through its recognition by the Supreme Court and readily enshrined in the books of law.
Mediation derives its source from section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code which deals with settlement of disputes outside the courts. It is one of the forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ADR) apart from arbitration, Lok Adalat, conciliation and Judicial Settlement. Alternative Dispute Resolution is a collection of processes used to resolve conflict or disputes informally and confidentially. ADR provides alternatives to traditional processes, such as grievances and complaints, but does not displace them. ADR encourages creativity and practical solutions and can be faster, cheaper, less formal and less confrontational than traditional processes.

The advantages of Mediation can be classified as follows :

  • A simple, voluntary, party centred and structured negotiation process
  • An effective and less expensive process to resolve a dispute with dignity , mutual respect and civility
  • A neutral third party assists the parties in amicable settlement of their disputes
  • Success of mediation depends upon the ability of the mediator
  • Allows flexibility, control and participation of the disputing parties
  • Presents the opportunity to express differences and improve relationships and mutual understanding whether or not an agreement is reached.

Hon'ble Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti(1/06/2004 to 31/10/2005), the then Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, constituted a Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee (then chaired by Hon'ble Mr. Justice N. Santosh Hegde). MCPC had developed a Training Manual for the Mediators and every person appointed as a Mediator shall have to undergo this training for 40 hours. West Bengal has 98 trained Mediators at present who are either Retired Judges of the Calcutta High Court or Retired District Judges or Advocates.

Mediation activities are held in the 18 ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Centres established throughout the State. The Secretary, District Legal Services Authority working under the aegis of the State legal Service Authority co-ordinates the process of mediation under the guidance of the District Judge of the respective District who is the Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority.

Mediation activities are supervised by the Mediation and Conciliation Committee, High Court, Calcutta. The Committee has the following members at present :

Hon'ble Justice Biswanath Somadder Chairperson
Hon'ble Mr.Justice I.P. Mukherjee Members
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Soumen Sen Members
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Tapas Mookerjee Members

It may be felt that the Mediation process have not claimed a good response in our State but the Mediation and Conciliation Committee, High Court, Calcutta along with the State Legal Services Authority are working hand in gloves to produce an effective output through the sensitization of Referral Judges and also the Mediators. A mediation training had been conducted recently at Siliguri from 19th February 2016 to 23rd Feb, 2016 covering six districts of northern Bengal – Darjeeling, Malda Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri. It is necessary to understand the benefits of mediation and sensitization is essential.

We look forward for better progress and development in this aspect so that the verdict of the Hon’ble Apex Court given in the Afcons Infrastructure judgment may be acted upon in true spirit and essence.

Statistical information on Mediation

Year Total no. of cases referred for mediation by the referral Judges Cases settled through Mediation Cases not settled
2012 78 5 9
2013 854 291 317
2014 842 144 410
2015 1046 55 451
2016 Upto August 306 42 311