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The Harmonious Path of ADR: Unveiling Section 89 of the CPC - Adv Praful S Potdar

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a concept deeply rooted in Lord Krishna’s counsel to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where dialogue triumphed over conflict. This ancient wisdom finds its modern embodiment in Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), which from 2003 to 2018 orchestrated a transformative journey in the domain of conflict resolution. This article embarks on a journey through pivotal cases, unveiling the profound impact of Section 89 in nurturing efficient and harmonious dispute resolution.


A Glimpse of Lord Krishna’s Wisdom in ADR and Section 89:

In the heart of the Bhagavad Gita lies the essence of dialogue and conciliation, ideals that resonate in Section 89 of the CPC. This provision presents litigants with a manifold approach, steering them away from the labyrinthine paths of traditional litigation. Instead, it guides them towards a range of ADR mechanisms such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, and Lok Adalats. Each of these avenues, a unique thread in the tapestry of resolution, reflects the essence of Lord Krishna’s timeless wisdom.


Unveiling Pivotal Cases (2003-2018) – The ADR Revolution:

1. Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India, (2003) 1 SCC 570:

In the landmark case of Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India etched the potential of Lok Adalats under Section 89 onto the legal landscape. The presiding sage, Hon’ble Chief Justice V.N. Khare, brought forth a holistic and expedited approach to resolving public interest litigations. This marked a seminal moment in the proactive adoption of ADR methods, emphasizing that Lok Adalats should not be mere alternatives but primary avenues for dispute resolution. The case set the precedent for embracing the spirit of dialogue enshrined in Section 89.

Reference: Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India, (2003) 1 SCC 570.


2. Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 344:

Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti’s judgment in Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu v. Union of India elevated mediation and conciliation to the forefront of dispute resolution. Hailing from the Madras High Court, Chennai, this case illuminated the need for proactive ADR mechanism adoption as laid out in Section 89. The judgment emphasized that ADR was not an alternative to litigation but rather a path to consider before resorting to adversarial procedures. It underscored the efficacy of ADR methods in aligning with the essence of Section 89 and the Bhagavad Gita’s wisdom.

Reference: Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 344.


3. Rajendra Kumar Pandey v. State of Jharkhand, (2012) 5 SCC 705:

The pivotal case of Rajendra Kumar Pandey v. State of Jharkhand expanded Section 89’s domain to encompass criminal cases, demonstrating the adaptability of ADR principles across diverse legal contexts. Guided by the wisdom of Hon’ble Justice Aftab Alam, the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, held that the nature of the offence should not hinder the applicability of ADR mechanisms. It was reasoned that an accused should be able to opt for ADR mechanisms, as long as they did not compromise public interest or the administration of justice. This case further showcased the inclusive essence of Section 89.

Reference: Rajendra Kumar Pandey v. State of Jharkhand, (2012) 5 SCC 705.


4. Meters and Instruments Pvt. Ltd. v. Kanchan Mehta, (2018) 1 SCC 560:

In the case of Meters and Instruments Pvt. Ltd. v. Kanchan Mehta, Justice A.K. Goel’s verdict resounded in the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi. This ruling positioned mediation as the quintessential tool for dispute resolution. The court urged courts to proactively direct cases toward mediation, considering litigation only as a last resort. The judgment emphasized that mediation should be attempted in all suitable cases, aligning with the essence of Section 89. This case underscored mediation’s pivotal role in realizing the spirit of dialogue and conciliation.






Reference: Meters and Instruments Pvt. Ltd. v. Kanchan Mehta, (2018) 1 SCC 560.

Conclusion:

Section 89 of the CPC stands as a beacon of transformation in India’s legal landscape. The cases discussed above serve as powerful testaments to the profound impact of ADR in reshaping the trajectory of dispute resolution. Rooted in Lord Krishna’s wisdom, Section 89 advocates for dialogue and conciliation. As a High Court Mediator and Legal Services Professional, I extend an invitation to explore these case narratives and their enduring implications.


References:

  1. Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India, (2003) 1 SCC 570.

  2. Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 344.

  3. Rajendra Kumar Pandey v. State of Jharkhand, (2012) 5 SCC 705.

  4. Meters and Instruments Pvt. Ltd. v. Kanchan Mehta, (2018) 1 SCC 560.

Book References:

  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution” by S.P. Sathe

  • “Mediation: Practice and Law” by David A. Hoffman

  • “Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996: Law and Practice” by O.P. Malhotra

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