Saturday, July 10, 2010

ADR Must Be Used As An Alternative To Litigation

Law Minister Veerappa Moily has recently announced the National Litigation Policy of India. It has many great reforms and if implemented in a timely and appropriate manner would go a long way in reducing the backlog of cases in India.

However, the policy is deficient in one crucial aspect. It failed to utilise the benefits of information and communication technology (ICT) for reducing the backlog of cases in India. Two most prominent use of ICT for reducing the arrears of cases in India are the use of e-courts in India and adoption of online dispute resolution (ODR) in India.

Till India is not ready for the use of ICT for legal and judicial purposes, we must concentrate upon using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like arbitration, mediation, etc.

Adoption of use of ICT for legal and judicial purposes would not only reduce the arrears of cases but would also bring ADR business to India. India can become a hub for ADR and ODR services provided we must change the legal system and law in this regard.

There is an emergent need of amending the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 as soon as possible so that international commercial disputes can be resolved through international commercial arbitration in India.

The amendment procedure is already in the process and it would be a good idea if provisions regarding e-courts and ODR are also incorporated in the same.

Indian ICT Policy In Deep Mess

India is an information and communication technology (ICT) superpower. However, this status is confined to providing outsourcing and other related services alone. When it comes to indigenous capabilities and self reliance, India does not stand anywhere. Why there is a mutual disharmony and conflict in this regard?

The reason is very simple. India does not have an “ICT Vision”. All Indian decisions regarding ICT are ignorant, half hearted, corruption laden, transparency lacking and retrograde in nature.

This is bound to happen when our Executive, Judiciary and Legislature(s) are simply technologically illiterate and are not paying any attentions towards bringing good ICT reforms.

Whether it is cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, judicial training, law enforcement training, etc there is a complete failure in India. For instance, India has cyber criminal friendly and impotent law, meager cyber security and cyber forensics capabilities, excessive e-surveillance, absence of privacy and data protection laws, rampant corruption, absence of transparency and many more vices.

We do not have an ICT Policy that can cater the requirements of these fields. All we have are thousands of unfulfilled promises by our ruling government where no action has been taken upon them since decades.

This is so because these requirements though urgent and necessary have no “vote bank” importance hence they are just ignored even if India at large is at the receiving end.

Indian ICT Policy is in deep mess and there is an urgent need to streamline the same. Is Indian government listening?