NITI Aayog in association with Patna High Court, organized the inaugural meeting in a broader engagement on efficient and affordable access to justice for all, through the the interplay of technology, law and innovation in the post pandemic world.

This meeting was held on 7th December 2020 with a focus on ODR, with addresses by Hon’ble Justice Navin Sinha, Judge, Supreme Court of India, Hon’ble Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Justice Hemant Srivastava, Chairman Bihar State Legal Services Authority, Patna High Court, Hon’ble Justice Ashwani Kumar Singh, Chairman, High Court Legal Services Committee, Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and domain experts. Over 1000 attendees participated in the online meeting, with participation from the entire Bihar Judiciary . At the meeting, the participants deliberated on the way forward for ensuring equitable and effective justice delivery for one and all.

ODR is the resolution of disputes, particularly small and medium value cases, using digital technology and techniques of alternate dispute resolution (ADR), such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. While courts are becoming digitized through the efforts of the judiciary, more effective, scalable, and collaborative mechanisms of containment and resolution are urgently needed. ODR can help resolve disputes efficiently and affordably.

In his welcoming address, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said,“This historic meeting is the start of a collaborative exercise that sets into motion the use of technology towards efficient and affordable access to justice in our post-pandemic response.” He also mentioned that “one of the most encouraging developments recently is how progressive and in fact innovative the Courts have been in adopting technology.”

Hon’ble the Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Patna High Court in his address affirmed that “All officers of Patna High Court have taken a vow since March of this year to transform justice delivery. We are dealing with a huge pendency of very old cases and new cases are arising. It requires a huge transformation in mindsets to deal with this challenge. We will work with NITI Aayog to outline a plan for finding a solution and ensure justice is both effective and expeditious.”

Hon’ble Mr Justice Navin Sinha, Judge, Supreme Court of India, in his Special Address, said“The justice system today is integrating both innovation and technology. Patna High Court has been the forerunner for integration of technology. I would like to see Patna High Court take the lead on Online Dispute Resolution in India.” He further added that “It is essential to ensure all stakeholders are trained and prepared for this new normal. We will be successful in ensuring justice delivery for all by taking a collaborative route as the way forward.”

At the meeting, Shri Desh Gaurav Sekhri, OSD and Head, Access to Justice,NITI Aayog made a presentation on the Draft Report for Formulating an Action Plan for ODR in India, under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) A.K. Sikri. Ms. Deepika Kinhal, Team Lead, JALDI, elaborated on the concept and benefits of ODR for citizens in India. Shri Vikas Mahendra, Arbitrator and co-founder, Center for Online Resolution of Disputes, expanded on the technology services that a wide range of ODR service providers have initiated in India in his presentation. Ms. Akshetha Ashok, co-founder, SAMA, shared the experience of collaborating with different States for organizing e-Lok Adalats with over 65,000+ cases being filed and 39898 + cases being settled, in her presentation.

The inaugural meeting generated tremendous recognition of the opportunity that ODR presents. CEO, NITI Aayog in his vote of thanks, extended gratitude to the Hon’ble Justices, especially to Justice Navin Sinha for giving the Special Address and lastly he shared his appreciation for Hon’ble Chief Justice Sanjay Karol for his progressive and visionary outlook.

The next meeting in the series will be held shortly.

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