Its 5 pm. Time for the Delhi High Court to clock off and litigants to leave. As the courtrooms pack up, the 13 rooms in the high court’s mediation centre continue to buzz with activity. See graphics
Tucked away in the new High Court complex, the mediation and conciliation centre—“Samadhan”—is open till 10 pm. “We don’t have any working hours,” says advocate and trained mediator Rekha Aggarwal who walks out of the centre after a successful two-hour mediation session with a couple.
Aggarwal says she has convinced the couple to live together after fighting a seven-month long matrimonial case. They had come here for an amicable solution to the dowry harassment case pending against the boy. Aggarwal’s advice to the girl to touch her father-in-law’s feet broke the ice. “Once her father-in-law hugged and forgave her, things were sorted out and the two went back happily,” says Aggarwal.
Four years after “Samadhan” was launched, this alternate dispute redressal forum by the Delhi High Court has rekindled the litigants’ hope in the judiciary. Both lawyers and judges have become catalysts in the healing process where parties in conflict come in search of mutual acceptable solutions.
When the Centre was opened in May 2006 by Justice Markandeya Katju, it was an unwelcome change. Kirti Uppal, vice-president of the Delhi High Court bar association recalls: “It had a poor response. Only five cases were referred to it every week. Lawyers did not favor this system and advised their clients against it,” he says.
Today, Uppal himself is a senior mediator and active participant.
Ramachandran, organising secretary of Samadhan states: “Now we hear 75 cases daily. The Centre has so far settled 2,150 cases. In addition, over 500 workmen and over 1,000 investors have also settled their disputes. Even the Supreme court is referring matters to Samadhan.” Of late, the Centre has also started receiving pre-litigation disputes also.