NEW DELHI: A proposal of the government to bring a law to provide legislative backing to out-of-court settlements to reduce court cases has received the backing of a high-powered committee set up to suggest legal reforms.
The Law Ministry had proposed before the Advisory Council of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms that the process of mediation "should be given statutory backing by enacting a stand-alone law on mediation."
Now, the minutes of the meeting, held in February this year, suggest that several members have supported the idea, saying advocates and social activists should have a proactive role in mediation.
The Council, chaired by the Law Minister, usually meets twice a year. Representatives from the Supreme Court, the Bar Council and the Union Home and Law ministries and the Attorney General are its members.
As of now, the mediation process is mostly used to settle marital disputes and the new legislation could encourage such settlements in other areas also like landlord-tenant and industrial disputes which form a major chunk of litigations.
A note mooted by the ministry for the meeting said, "There is no legislation to back the mediation process in the country...the lack of any statutory backing to the mediation process is a cause of concern/apprehension in the minds of the parties regarding the validity/enforceability of the outcome of mediation. Therefore, some parties may prefer the lawyer-dominated, formal judicial process."
According to the minutes, jurist N R Madhava Menon expressed his agreement on the need for a separate law for mediation at both pre and post litigation stages.
He opined that mediation requires a different code of ethics, approach and procedures and the existing provision of civil procedure code have not allowed mediation to gain much traction.