India’s Mediation Bill (2021) has been passed by both houses of parliament to alleviate the staggering backlog of court cases.
The bill, which was given the green light by the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and Lok Sabha (lower house) early in August, focuses on enhancing the mediation process for civil and commercial disputes.
The Supreme Court currently has to clear nearly 70,000 pending cases, while high courts grapple with 6 million cases, and district and subordinate courts have a staggering backlog of 40 million cases.
The core objective of the bill is to streamline the legal process, reduce pendency and foster cost-effective and efficient dispute resolution.
Mediation will be mandated as the preliminary step before approaching courts or tribunals for civil or commercial disputes. Mediation is expected to conclude within 180 days, extendable for another 180 days at the discretion of the parties.
To oversee and regulate mediation activities, the bill introduces the Mediation Council of India, responsible for registering mediators, accrediting mediation service providers and acknowledging mediation institutes.