Union’s motto should be mediated, don’t litigate’: CJI

Friday, the Chief Justice of India, D. Y. Chandrachud, delivered the presidential address at the inauguration of the National Conference on Mediation organised by the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre. He stated that the Union government and its agencies should adopt the motto “mediate, don’t litigate” The theme of the two-day conference, organised by the National Legal Services Authority and the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee, is “Mediation: At the Dawn of a Golden Age.”

Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Ahsanuddin Amanullah, Rajesh Bindal, P S Narasimha, Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Satish Chandra Sharma, judges of the Delhi High Court, including Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Sachdeva, and the Attorney General of India R Venkataramani attended the event.

Drawing parallels between the drafting of the Constitution and mediation, the CJI said that mediation is a process that involves resolving disagreements by facilitating an open dialogue mutual understanding and, bringing together stakeholders with differing viewpoints and helping them to find common ground. “In both cases, the goal is to create a framework that is inclusive and reflective of the aspirations of the people,” the CJI stated.

He further said, “in today’s fraught times, mediation brings an important message for citizens: are we losing the ability to talk to each other across the spectrum, are we losing our ability to engage in reasoned dialogue?” “Is it then not necessary to learn something from mediation, namely, the importance of being good listeners, understanding the other’s point of view, and not only insisting that the dogma we espouse is the only relevant dogma?” he continued.

The CJI referred to it as the oldest, most prevalent, and least formal dispute resolution mechanism, noting that it places the power of decision-making in the hands of the average person.

“Women, especially those from marginalised communities, often find formal legal proceedings alienating because they have historically been denied equal access to the law,” the CJI stated, adding that mediation would help mitigate their alienation.

While discussing the mediator’s neutrality, the CJI described situations in which a mediator who remains aloof during a negotiation in order to maintain their neutrality “is like a car stuck in neutral” that does not move at all. He stated that a “competent mediator will be aware of their own biases” and that this “self-reflexivity would enable the mediator to actively monitor how they are intervening in the process, guided not by the pretence of neutrality”

Moreover, he emphasised that youth-based mediation programmes and law school mediation programmes would not only prepare the next generation for a career in law, where opportunities are certain to increase but also help them develop the skills necessary to resolve conflicts constructively and peacefully.

In addition to delivering an address at the inaugural session, the CJI also released the Samadhan mobile application and the book ‘Mediation and its Promise’. In his conclusion, he mentioned a “life lesson” from the football coach “Ted Lasso” that advised mediators to “be curious and not judgmental.”

During the session, the AG made two announcements, stating that he intends to establish the Attorney General’s national council of mediator’s watch to collect all the mediation experiences from across the country and that it intends to involve the advocate generals of all the states and prominent members of the bar.

His second announcement concerned a proposal to establish an Attorney General national award for mediators whose accomplishments will be recognised on a national scale. “I hope I will be able to advance these two agendas as much as possible during my brief tenure,” the attorney general said.

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