SC agrees to examine plea seeking mandatory pre-litigation mediation


The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a plea seeking direction to the government and various High Courts to take appropriate measures to provide for mandatory pre-litigation mediation.

The plea also sought guidelines or formulation of a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) to give immediate effect to the functioning of mandatory pre-litigation mediation pan India.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian queried has the government been served copy of the plea, as the court is informed that the government is considering a legislation on mediation. “We want the Union of India to appear,” it said.

The top court’s observation came on a plea filed by Youth Bar Association of India.

The plea cited the data issued by the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) that total number of cases pending before the courts is 32.45 million as on May 24, 2020, of which 32 per cent cases are less than one year old.

The plea added that as per the data issued by the NJDG out of total pending cases, 9.114 million are civil cases in which 34.25 percent cases are one year old, and 44.76 per cent cases are 1-5 years old.

“The aggregate of cases that are 5-10 years old are 14.31 per cent. Disappointingly the category of cases which falls in the range of 20 to 30 years constitute 1.15 per cent of the pendency and 0.37 per cent case are waiting for their disposal for as much as thirty years,” said the plea filed through advocate Ajit Sharma.

The petitioner emphasized mediation in general and ‘pre-litigative’ mediation in particular is an alternative mode to settle the dispute amicably, and that too, at pre-litigative stage.

“Pre-institutional or, to put it differently, ‘Pre-litigation’ mediation is nothing but an attempt to resolve the dispute among the parties amicably with the help of neutral third party called Mediator before going to the court or even before filing litigation or sending a notice. It gives a chance to both the parties to end the dispute in a win-win position,” the plea added.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court said: “Interlocutory application for intervention is allowed. List the matter on Thursday i.e. 25th March, 2021.”