NITI Aayog releases report on online dispute resolution

The report is a culmination of the action plan made by a committee constituted at the peak of the Covid crisis by NITI Aayog on ODR in 2020 and chaired by Supreme Court Justice (Retd) AK Sikri
The report released by Niti Aayog said government litigation contributes to 46% of all litigations in the country and burdens the courts while imposing a huge cost on the public exchequer. (HT Photo)
The report released by Niti Aayog said government litigation contributes to 46% of all litigations in the country and burdens the courts while imposing a huge cost on the public exchequer. (HT Photo)
Published on Nov 30, 2021 09:17 AM IST
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The NITI Aayog on Monday released a report on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) to advance access to justice and ensure that cases do not end up before higher courts. The policy think tank proposed measures at three levels to address the challenges in adopting ODR.

The report titled “Designing the future of dispute Resolution: the ODR Policy Plan for India” recommends increasing digital infrastructure, building capacity, regulatory framework, including permission for online notorisation, and implementing it in a phased manner, etc.

The report is a culmination of the action plan made by a committee constituted at the peak of the Covid crisis by NITI Aayog on ODR in 2020 and chaired by Supreme Court Justice (Retd) AK Sikri, said an official.

ODR is aimed at resolving disputes outside of the court system through arbitration, mediation, and negotiation.

“ODR can help reduce the burden on the court and efficiently resolve these categories of cases. It can be integrated to support the judiciary through technology integration in court-annexed ADR centres and introduced within Government departments for its internal disputes, as well as through e-Lok Adalats,” wrote Sekri in the foreword of the report.

Officials said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a large section of the society did not receive timely access to justice and it also added to the already lengthy court process.

“Through the ODR report, our aim is to create a sustainable framework—one that adapts and endures the test of time to become an option of first recourse for several categories of claims in a dynamic manner,” said NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

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The report said government litigation contributes to 46% of all litigation in the country and not only burdens the courts but also imposes a huge cost on the public exchequer.

In 2017-18, the expenditure incurred by the central government in contesting cases in the Supreme Court alone was Rs. 47.99 crore. The report cited the Legal Information Management and Briefing System portal and added as of September 23, 2020, the government had 5,80,132 cases pending in different courts across the country.

At the structural level, the report recommends increasing access to digital infrastructure, building capacity through training, strengthening paralegal service, etc. “The government can mandate certain categories of disputes to be resolved through ODR before approaching courts,” said the report.

It recommends measures to tackle challenges at the behavioural level by adopting ODR for government litigation.

A good regulatory framework is essential for the success of ODR. For this, NITI Aayog has recommended the introduction of a regulatory framework for mediation and e-mediation for introducing digital innovation in legal processes. Currently, physical copies of documents and physical presence for verification are essential. The report recommends mainstreaming of e-stamping, allowing online notorisation, integration of eSign for electronic signature and electronic seal, maintaining secure electronic records, etc.

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Thursday, January 20, 2022