What is dispute redressal? What are the different dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions in India? Read further to know more.
A dispute mechanism is a formalized procedure for resolving disagreements or grievances between two or more parties involved in societal, commercial, or legal connections. To resolve disputes, dispute processes are used.
These methods include negotiation, mediation, conflict resolution, and conciliation.
The typical non-judicial nature of dispute resolution mechanisms means that they do not take place in a court of law.
Dispute redressal- Indian scenario
According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, no individual shall be deprived of his or her liberty except by the method established by law. The Supreme Court of India correctly determined that the Right to a Speedy Trial is a component of the Right to Life or Personal Liberty.
This lenient interpretation of Article 21 is intended to make up for the mental suffering, expenditure, and strain that someone facing criminal charges must endure, which when combined with delays, may make it more difficult for the accused to properly defend himself.
As a result, the Supreme Court has determined that the Right to a Speedy Trial is an example of a fair, just, and reasonable process protected by Article 21.
A brief history
People in India used mediation to resolve disputes before the establishment of law courts. In the past, such mediation was known as “Panchayath,” and it was typically led by someone who was respected and held in greater regard by the villagers.
The Panchayath was presided over by a member of superior stature, quality, and character known as the Village Headman, who was aided by others from various castes in the area who shared his character or cadre.
The Panchayath heard the conflict between individuals and families, and the verdict was to be accepted by the disputants. The well-being of the disputants and the preservation of their good relations were the key factors taken into account in such Panchayaths.
Alternative modes of dispute resolution (ADR) emerged by creating facilities for providing dispute settlement through arbitration, conciliation, mediation, and negotiation in developing nations like India that are undergoing significant economic reforms within the framework of the rule of law.
This reduced the burden on the courts and provided means for expeditious dispute resolution. To address the issues, the GOI has established various dispute resolution mechanisms.
Gram Sabha, Nyaya Panchayat, Lok Adalat, Family Court, Counseling Centers, Commission of Inquiry, Tribunal, Consumer Court, and Indian Legislation on ADR are a few of the several procedures established in India.
The system’s main goals are to increase access to justice, promote mediation as opposed to winner-take-all disputes, boost efficiency, and shorten courtroom delays.
However, a strong grievance procedure:
- gives all parties a predictable, credible, and transparent procedure, resulting in decisions that are regarded as just, practical, and long-lasting.
- develops trust as a crucial element of more extensive community relations operations.
- enables more thorough identification of new problems and patterns, allowing for proactive involvement and corrective action.
In this article, we’ll talk about several Dispute Redressal Mechanisms
Dispute redressal mechanisms
Following are some of the dispute redressal mechanisms relevant in the Indian context.
India is referred to as a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic in the Preamble of its Constitution. These components, in the opinion of our Constitution’s authors, were necessary to create an equitable society and a government based on welfarism.
Therefore, the foundation of the welfare state phenomenon is the administration of justice and the rule of law.
The government’s duties have multiplied phenomenally as a result of the acceptance of the welfare ideology, giving the executive incredible authority and boosting legislative productivity. More lawsuits have resulted as a result, as have limitations on people’s freedom and ongoing conflicts between them and the authorities.
- Part XIV-A, which consists of Articles 323A and 323B, was introduced into the Indian Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. which ultimately resulted in the creation of administrative tribunals.
- Article 323A: Establishes administrative tribunals to resolve disagreements and complaints over hiring practices, employment terms for those hired to work in the public sector, and other related issues.
- Article 323B: Provides for the establishment of Tribunals for the adjudication or prosecution of disputes, complaints, or offenses relating to taxes, foreign exchange, labor disputes, land reforms, urban property ceilings, elections to Parliament and State Legislatures, etc.
- Any law may be passed by Parliament by Article 323A, and State Legislatures may also pass laws by Article 323B if they have the necessary legislative authority.
National Company Law Tribunal
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) was established by the Central Government by section 408 of the 2013 Companies Act.
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial organization that handles equitable jurisdiction that was formerly handled by the Central Government or the High Court. The Tribunal has the authority to control how it conducts itself.
The following authorities’ corporate jurisdiction is consolidated with the creation of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT):
- Company Law Board
- Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.
- The Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction
- Jurisdiction and powers relating to winding up restructuring and other such provisions are vested in the High Courts.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has established eleven benches, including one principal bench, in the initial phase. The President, 16 judicial members, and 9 technical members will serve as the chairs of these benches, which will be located in various places.
Single Tribunal for Inter-State Water Disputes
Water disputes between states are distinct from other interstate conflicts. Article 262 of the Constitution prohibits the Supreme Court and other courts from having jurisdiction over interstate water issues. Disputes are settled by the Interstate (River) Water Disputes Act of 1956. According to its terms, the conflicts must be decided by special, temporary tribunals.
Inter-State Water Dispute Act provisions (1956)
- The Inter-State Water Conflicts Act of 1956 governs disputes over river water between states.
- According to the 1956 Act’s present provisions, a tribunal can be established if a state government submits a request to the federal government and the federal government is persuaded of the necessity of the tribunal’s establishment.
- The key recommendations of “The Sarkaria Commission” were added to this statute in 2002.
- The modifications prescribed a one-year setup period for the water disputes tribunal as well as a three-year decision-making period.
- With the first generation of tribunals established shortly after independence to decide disputes involving the Krishna, Narmada, and Godavari rivers, this system has achieved considerable success.
- But generally speaking, it has found it difficult to reconcile opposing sides and present fair answers.
National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal was established by the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 to effectively and promptly handle cases involving environmental protection, and the conservation of forests and other natural resources.
- It also deals with the enforcement of any environmental legal rights and the provision of relief and compensation for environmental damages to people and property, as well as for matters related to or incidental to those cases.
- It is an expert body with the knowledge needed to handle environmental disputes involving many disciplinary issues.
- The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 is not a requirement for the NGT to follow; instead, it will act by natural justice principles.
- The Indian Evidence Act, of 1872’s rules of evidence are not binding on NGT either.
- Conservation groups will find it easier to present facts and issues before the NGT (as opposed to going before a court), including pointing out technical problems with a project or suggesting alternatives that could lessen environmental damage but have not been examined.
- The NGT will use the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle, and the principles of sustainable development when passing orders, decisions, and awards. However, it should be noted that the NGT has the authority to impose fees, including lost benefits as a result of any temporary injunction if it determines that a claim is untrue.
Unquestionably, the idea of a contemporary, democratic, and constitutional India revolves around equality and justice. By conducting its job of administering justice, the State machinery carries out the values of equality and fairness. Systemic issues with India’s judicial system include corruption, holdups, pendency, rising prices, a lack of adequate legal aid, and a shortage of judges and attorneys with the necessary training.
- To address these issues, the Law Ministry established Gram Nyayalays in 2009 to give the underprivileged living in villages a low-cost venue to resolve legal disputes. The Gram Nyayalayas Act of 2008 created it.
- This Act perpetuates the phenomenon of two distinct groups of Indians: the wealthy urban citizen who can afford and access the courts, and the less connected rural citizen who has access to forums that are primarily focused on resolving their claims without the application of crucial procedural safeguards such as attorneys, appeals, protections for procedural rights, and evidentiary requirements.
- Gram Nyayalayas are mobile village courts that were created in India to provide quick and simple access to the legal system in the country’s rural areas.
- They are designed to bring affordable justice to rural residents at their doorsteps.
- The Act went into effect on October 2, 2009, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. (The symbols Gram, Nyay, and Aalya represent the village, justice, and house, respectively.)
Effective justice delivery is a perennial requirement of peace, order, civilization, and national governance under any form of government.
It is the primary responsibility of the State to ensure that everyone receives equal and impartial justice by regulating how citizens interact with one another, preventing disorder and favoritism of one class of people over others, and upholding all fundamental rights necessary for the existence and advancement of the average person by establishing an efficient justice system.
However, in practice, the promise of equality before the law does not satisfy a poor man since he lacks access to justice. Other factors that negatively impacted the administration of justice were delays, corruption, expensive litigation, access issues, a dearth of courts, judges, and government employees, a drawn-out procedure, and a lack of legal aid and legal education for the poor.
Lok Adalat has been founded as a result of these flaws in the current legal system.
Legislations related to Lok Adalat:
- By the constitutional requirement in Article 39-A of the Constitution of India, which incorporates several provisions for dispute settlement through Lok Adalat, the National Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 provided Lok Adalats a statutory character.
- To ensure that no citizen is denied the opportunity to secure justice due to economic hardship or other disabilities, this Act establishes legal services authorities to provide competent and free legal services to the most vulnerable members of society.
- It also establishes Lok Adalats to ensure that the functioning of the legal system promotes justice on an equal opportunity basis.
Arbitration And Conciliation
In the arbitration procedure, a decision is made on the merits of the case by a neutral third party or parties. In the Indian setting, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1998 broadly defines the rules for the arbitration process, and the parties are free to devise an arbitration process that is appropriate and pertinent to their disputes in the areas covered by the Statute.
The mediation process seeks to make it easier for the conflicting parties to come to a mutually agreeable settlement. The Mediator is a neutral third party who oversees the mediation process. The ability of the mediator to help the parties’ negotiations depends on their agreement.
A less formal variation of arbitration is conciliation. No prior agreement is necessary for this method to work. Any party may request the appointment of a conciliator from the opposite party. Two or three conciliators are permitted but one is recommended. If there are numerous conciliators, they must all work together. There can be no conciliation if a party declines an offer to do so.
- The conciliator may receive statements from the parties outlining the overall nature of the dispute and the items in contention. A copy of the statement is sent from one side to the other.
- The conciliator has the right to ask for more information, request a meeting with the parties, and initiate verbal or written correspondence with them. The conciliator may even get proposals from the parties for resolving the conflict.
- When the conciliator believes that a settlement has some of the necessary components, he may draft the terms of the agreement and send them to the parties for their approval. The settlement agreement will be final and binding after both parties have signed it.
Also read: Alternative dispute resolution
Institutional mechanism for dispute redressal
Human Rights Commissions
In 1994, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established as a result of the 1993 Protection of Human Rights Act. It noted that “increasing concern about issues linked to human rights” had been expressed both domestically and internationally.
It had been deemed necessary to review the current rules and processes as well as the administrative structure to increase efficiency and transparency in light of this as well as the shifting social realities and new trends in crime and violence.
The Human Rights Protection Act of 1993 makes it possible for the State Government to establish a State Human Rights Commission to exercise the authority granted to it and carry out the duties specified in the Act.
National Women for Commission (NWC)
The National Commission for Women was established as a statutory body in January 1992 with the charge of reviewing the constitutional and legal protections for women, suggesting corrective legislative measures, assisting with grievance redress, and advising the government on all policy issues affecting women.
The Commission has all the authority of a Civil Court hearing a case to carry out these duties, as is the case with the NCSC/NCST.
The Union Government arranges for the Commission’s reports on the operation of the protections for women to be presented to each House of Parliament, along with an update on any actions taken in response to the Commission’s recommendations and any explanations for any rejections, if any.
When it comes to concerns involving a State Government, the report and accompanying Action Taken Report are presented to the State Legislature.
National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)
There used to be a Special Office for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under Article 338 of the Constitution. The Office of Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was given this title. A multi-member Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was established in 1978 as a result of the 46th Amendment.
By the Constitution (Eighty-ninth Amendment) Act of 2003, separate commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were to be established. As a result, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) was established for the first time in 2004.
The Commission’s responsibility is to provide the President with annual and special reports. These Reports include suggestions for actions that the Union and State Governments should take to effectively implement the safeguards and other welfare measures.
These Reports must be presented to both Houses of Parliament along with a Memorandum outlining the course of action taken or being considered by each Ministry or Department and any grounds for rejection, if any. If the suggestions apply to state governments, a comparable Memorandum containing the recommendations must be presented to the appropriate state legislatures.
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
The NCSC and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes both had similar beginnings. It was established as a separate Commission in 2004 as a result of the Constitution (Eighty-ninth Amendment Act, 2003), which added Article 338A and amended Article 107.
Before that, as was already indicated, a single organization was in charge of overseeing the constitutional protections offered to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) shares several characteristics with the NCSC, including its composition, terms, powers, and reporting mechanism. Scheduled Tribes receive the same constitutional protections and legal protections as SCs.
Six units make up the NCST and they are responsible for administration, coordination, socioeconomic and educational development, service safeguards, and atrocities-related issues. The NCST has six regional offices that give it a regional perspective.
Article written by: Caroline