"Mahabharata an early attempt at mediation, mediation embedded in Indian ethos:" CJI NV Ramana at India-Singapore Mediation Summit
Mediation is deeply embedded in Indian ethos and was prevalent in India much before the arrival of British, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said on Saturday pointing out how Indian epic Mahabharata provided an early example of attempt at mediation.
Delivery his keynote address at the India-Singapore Mediation Summit "Making Mediation mainstream: Reflections from India and Singapore", CJI Ramana stated that many Asian countries have a long and rich tradition of settling disputes amicably.
"India, and numerous Asian countries, have a long and rich tradition of collaborative and amicable settlement of disputes. The great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, actually provides an example of an early attempt at mediation as a conflict resolution tool, where Lord Krishna attempted to mediate the dispute between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Mediation, as a concept, is deeply embedded into the Indian ethos. Long before British arrived, disputes were often resolved by Chieftains or elders," said the Chief Justice.
It may be worthwhile to recall that the failure of mediation in Mahabharata led to disastrous consequences, he added.
The CJI also took strong objection to the projected statistics showcasing pending cases in Indian courts and stated how the system to evaluate such figures were "not accurate."
"Need for mediation arises from judicial delays. It is often stated that there are 45 million pending cases and its said because courts cannot handle it. It is an uncharitable analysis. Cases filed yesterday get added to the list and thus is not a useful indicator to see how well a system is doing. Issue of judicial delays is a complex problem and just not in India," he opined.
The CJI also stressed on the need for mediators to undergo training sessions to keep themselves updated as the role of mediator has now evolved from that of a passive facilitator to a role involving advisory participation.
"But now with more complex problems being referred to now, role of mediators is evolving and now they have to provide more assistance. he has to assess relative strength and weaknesses of the parties. Pilots are needed to undergo training every year where they are given multiple scenarios on how to land. Mediators need to go through such training so that innovation can be brought on board," said the CJI.
Another issued highlighted by the CJI was about mediator's role when parties involved are at different economical footing.
"You can call this the mediators modern dilemma. But when one party is better situated economically and politically than the other party and settlement is patently unjust to the other party. Should the mediator be silent then? These are some questions one must consider. India has diverse social fabric where substantive equality needs to be upheld even in the process of mediation. My object is to not discourage mediation but make it more robust and meaningful. Indepth and continuous training of mediators are needed," said the CJI.
Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon also delivered his keynote address at the event.