The situation thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic may lead to a spurt in litigation, especially in “lending, credit, property, commerce and retail” in the coming months and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) mechanisms can long a long way in addressing this without burdening courts, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has said.
Speaking at a Webinar on ‘Online Dispute Resolution: Opportunities and Challenges’, organised by Delhi-based Indian Dispute Resolution Centre Saturday, Kant said it is “highly likely there will be a deluge of disputes in the courts — most notably in lending, credit, property, commerce and retail — in the coming months that will require expedient resolution” and added that this is reason enough to support ODR. Such support would encourage businesses to build ODR mechanisms into partner and customer relationships, he said. “Banks, NBFCs and MFIs could then prioritise ODR before they approach debt recovery tribunals. Families would take recourse to ODR to address sensitive issues, and so on,” Kant stated.
Kant termed as “progressive” the Supreme Court’s efforts to increasingly embrace technology and said he has “great hope that we are witnessing a visionary period in the history of India’s court system”.
The pandemic, he said, has “completely altered how we function, and while it is a great challenge that we must all combat together, it is equally important that we use any opportunity available to help alleviate the challenges faced by those most vulnerable to its overarching impact”.
Chief Justice of India S A Bobde has on many occasions underlined potential benefits of using Artificial Intelligence to make courts more efficient, Kant said.
He pointed out that Justice
D Y Chandrachud, who leads the e-courts committee, “has initiated critical changes that are already noticeable” and added that introduction of 24/7 facility to file cases electronically “is nothing short of a game changer”. Kant said the NITI Aayog recently held a closed-door meeting on ODR where Supreme Court judges, Justices Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Indu Malhotra, and Justice (retired) A K Sikri “spoke positively of ODR’s potential”.
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