The 3rd Indian Mediation Week ADR Summit has kick-started in Kolkata at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences.
We are thrilled to be hosting the Opening Ceremony.
Launched in 2017, Indian Mediation Week is India’s Largest Student-run Access to Justice Campaign to promote collaborative dispute resolution practices all across the country.
Gear up to witness the exhilarating Summit that will be conducted in Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi from 8th December to 7th January 2020!
1:20- So we begin!
Pranjal Sinha, the CEO and co-founder of ODRways, has opened the show explaining how he got into mediation in the first place. He explains how about 54% people in India are not aware of what mediation is, rather confuse it with meditation or arbitration.
Anshuman Panigrahi, a fourth-year student at WBNUJS and also an integral part of Indian Mediation Week talks about how IMW would not be what it is today without the 11 core members who have been working so ardently for the past 3 years, the 7 zonal coordinators and 12 mini coordinators helping manage all the zones and most importantly, all the 135 ambassadors and the volunteers who are the backbone of this drive leading to over 3000 drives this year; leading to more than 5000 drives over the course of 3 years.
Now we start with our keynote speakers.
Advocate Soumyajit Raha
Our first speaker is Advocate Soumyajit Raha, a mediation enthusiast.
He talks about awareness among lawyers as the most important hindrance. There are hardly any surveys conducted among lawyers before such reforms are undertaken. He talks about an experience that took place in the Alipore Court where the members of IMW asked the clients of lawyers to get into mediation. The lawyers didn’t encourage them taking away their cases and clients. One cannot ignore the role of advocates and Soumyajit sir explains how to do that. The lawyers should be made to understand whether winning a case matters or finding a solution matter the answer to which is the latter of course. Mediation is one of the best ADR mechanisms made tangible under section 89 of CPC which explains the mechanism to be followed. A case sir asks us to refer to is Dayawati v Yogesh Kumar Gosain. A common misconception is that the role of advocates isn’t important enough in the process of mediation. Neutral facilitators cannot take over the role of an advocate. The role of an advocate commences even before the case comes to court and continues till the end. He also talks about the troubles. In case of disputes, legal provisions are given by the lawyers. It’s almost their obligation to inform about mediation. The choice is, of course, of the client, the advocate should only suggest the perks of mediation. The lawyers must be consulted mostly before the process of mediation begins. People must talk about what happens if the mediation process fails. The lawyers need to be encouraged into mediation. He concludes by mentioning that the need of the hour is that certain procedures have to adopted to turn more lawyers into mediators.
Our second speaker is Mr. Suryaprakash. He is the project director at DAKSH India. DAKSH is a civil society organisation that undertakes research and activities to promote accountability and better governance in India, founded by citizens from varied backgrounds. It has been working to create inclusive, transparent, self-correcting mechanisms that encourage accountability in all branches of the government. Daksh had conducted research of 10 lakh litigants across the country which helped other understand the systemic view of things from judicial reforms perspective. He recalls having heard somewhere that ADR should actually stand for “appropriate dispute resolution” instead of alternative dispute resolution. He wants people to know what forum to approach for what cases. He talks about the commonly held notion that the litigation system is broken and emphasizes on why it needs immediate action. He asks us to think of the judiciary as not just monolithic but to acknowledge the layers to it; consisting of many from the police to our Ministers. This forms our information ecosystem of which, judiciary is a critical clearing house. When you think of it this way, medition has a huge role to play. He reassures that we’re at a great place to make mediation work. Example of which is the amendment to the mediation act through which a mediation council is to be setup in the near future. This way we increase awareness on how mediation is being institutionalized, formalized and regulated. He then sheds light on the online portals for mediation and how Arbitration Council of India must be actively engaged with it to make them transparent by regulating the way they design rules and how technology can make an impact, whether ODR is being used, how do we make sure the arbitration houses use mediation properly and how they connect with the judiciary. How to design the process to interact with judiciary is to be looked into; what are the options available where ever you are? such information must be made available. Less access to technology shouldn’t be an issue because facebook, whatsapp and even tiktok for that matter is rampant. He raises questions on how do you design an interface that talks to Bharat in its entirety; in regional languages. He ends with the slogan, “let’s start moving online”.
Our third speaker is Paritosh Sinha, the managing partner at Sinha and Co., one of the premier corporate law firms in the country. He has been a constant supporter and mentor to the team Indian Mediation Week.
He states that mediation calls upon a different skill set than what is required for litigation. A lawyer should ideally be open minded and inclined towards client’s needs. He emphasizes on the effective use of mediation process. He also informs us about how Parties for commercial disputes are mandated to refer to mediation as a pre-litigation process. He further talks about why law firms should associate themselves with mediation; Vast practice areas, plurality of practice undertaken by the firm, Law firms are better equipped to deal with mediation. Lots of law firms don’t look at mediation very fondly and this must be changed. He reaffirms that mediation is without prejudice and confidential.
Ms. Durga Khaitan
Our forth keynote speaker is Ms. Durga Khaitan, the secretary at the State Legal Services Authority. She has been a constant mentor to the team since the nascent stages of IMW.
She begins with a very affectionate and passionate appreciation of Pranjal, Akshetha and every member associated with this drive. She fondly explains how she has always seen them running around like madmen trying to figure everything out and how this reminds her that “badlaw ke liye pagalpan chahiye”.
She then comments on the how quickly the mediation scene is unfolding in our judicial system as specially the last days have been rampant. Law Minister of India has said that the faith in the law system must be restored, this implies that it’s broken. However, the faith, Ms. Khaitan says, is still present but the system needs improvement. So we can’t turn a blind eye to how we need to focus on important cases that are being ignored because of the heaps of pending cases. She reaffirms that mediation doesn’t hurt lawyers. Good lawyers can be the torchbearers of mediation. We’re in an intricate system and knowledge has a snowballing effect. According to her, what we lack is faith. We must be honest and face reality. Belief in mediation is paramount. We need to clear the picture that mediation is very much lawful; voluntary and judicious at the same time. She then restates that lawyers are peace-makers whereas judges are healers of pain and “mediation” is the best way to heal pain. An example of how illused mediation is this country is that Ms. Khaitan is a registered mediator and her skills are not yet used. She ends with “if don’t use me, you lose me” thus re-emphasizing the need to use mediators and their skills.
Mr. N K Chakraborty
Now the honorable Vice-Chancellor of West Bengal National Law University, Mr. N K Chakraborty takes the stage to say a few words.
He proudly states that NUJS is the first college in India to have a student-run mediation clinic. He introduces our guests. He says, the future of Indian justice system upholds mediation as one of its pillars- and the students are its torchbearers. IMW tackles the challenge of lack of awareness on mediation in India. It’s an initiative by NUJS alumni Pranjal and Akshetha. Initiated in NUJS by 3 students of the college, it has now spread across 65 cities with more than 5000 drives conducted.
Governor of West Bengal,Shri Jagdeep Dhankar
The honorable Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep Dhankar, a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India, and was a member of Lok Sabha from 1989 to 1991, now takes the stage to share his thoughts and perspective on the campaign.
He appreciates the VC’s interactions with the students. Talks about his days in the Bar Council of India. He says that we’re quick to politicize everything and have a tendency to take up the most trivial of things to the Apex court and maybe that is why, mediation hasn’t got the best response in this country yet. He then talks about his days in Paris, how egoistical the Judges in this country have become must be changed. He’s been functional in the Supreme Court in low profile and through his experience, he is certain that we have to change our mindset. He sheds light on how mediation started in our country a little late even though it’s been introduced in Paris relatively quicker. Talking about his days in Paris, he talks about how in the Court of Paris, ADR was decided to be Amicable Dispute Resolution unlike how it is Alternative Dispute Resolution in India. Drawing our attention to the difference between dispute resolution in Paris and India he says, unlike in India, in Paris, they didn’t allow people to mediate until they had knowledge of the subject matter of the issue brought up for mediation. He says that mediation is the need of the hour. The first statement of our newly appointed CJI is on mediation and how it must be invoked which only increases the importance of it. He says that the role of arbitrators and how this role must be questioned is to be determined.He criticizes the Judges that after retirement, think arbitration is a job to make money. He says that this mindset has to change. He’s happy and delighted to be among the crowd today which is so passionate towards mediation. According to him, mediation is the play of mind; any student can be a mediator since you’re not tied down to protocol but to a particular point of view. He further talks about how fast-paced communication has become and that if we see the best international practices, the most important cases are mostly resolved through mediation. He recalls when a case was once resolved in just a matter of 5 mins. “cup of tea can do wonders”, he says. He urges all the boys and girls to focus on areas of human relations; in mediation more intrinsically. A mediator helps you with a consensual, fast and trustworthy approach to resolve. He concludes with “Suljhao magar pyaar se”.