Online Dispute Resolution is that branch of ADR, which utilises the technology to resolve the disputes between the parties. ODR is the combination of all negotiation, arbitration and mediation. In this modern era ODR is considered as the most effective way to provide justice as it includes “Legal Certainty and Access to Justice for all”.
ODR is often defined as utilization of Information Technology for carrying out ADR work.[i] ODR comprises of the following things mentioned in the picture:-
Under this method not only E- disputes are resolved but also traditional, social and family disputes are also resolved. And in today’s era of digitalisation and technologies have a huge impact on our daily lives and has brought many changes to it. In India there is a famous quote for the Indian judiciary that “Justice delayed is Justice denied”, which clearly states that if Justice is not given at proper time than there is no use of such justice and due to huge number of pending cases we are not able to provide justice to the people and from this people have started to lose hope from judiciary.
Online Dispute Resolution is one of the effective way to solve this problem of pending cases in our court rooms.
- PRESENT STATUS OF ODR IN INDIA
Article 21 of our Constitution clearly states that ‘No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except by the procedure by law[i].’ Even in the famous case of “Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary State of Bihar[ii]” it held that right to speedy trial is the part and parcel of right to life and liberty. And there are many more cases like this.
Indian courts are packed till there mouth with the cases of different fields. Though our judiciary is trying hard to complete these cases asap. With the change of time judiciary has also adopted ODR method. This method has been even supported by many judges and even our current Chief Justice Bobde. During the situation of COVID this played an important role in providing justice to the people. By this ODR changes came in the following: –
- JUDICIAL PREPAREDNESS: – in putting the ground stone of ODR in Indian Judicial system SC has played an important role. It had upheld the validity of the video conferencing in taking evidence and recording of witness in State of Maharashtra v. Prafulla Desai[iii] and quoted that “virtual reality is now the actual reality.” The simultaneous movement clearly states that India is in the need of ODR for logically transition.
- LEGISALATIVE PREPAREDNESS: – our current legislative framework can be modified for the use of ODR in our daily practice. There are provisions present in our current framework which specially deals with the virtual hearing and about the witness. Like Section 65 A & B of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 explains about the electronic evidence as a valid evidence. Our present framework can continue to work as bedrock for making new legislative policy regarding ADR.
- PROS OF ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION: –
- TIME EFFECTIVE: – ODR is both a time effective as well as convenient form of ADR. In which parties can resolve their disputes from anywhere around the world. It is also considered as an efficient form of ADR as well.
- COST EFFECTIVE AND CREATIVE METHOD: – ODR is considered as a very creative method of resolution of disputes as generally the court proceedings are very formal and take much time, but this ODR method is very flexible. It’s the best method for those parties who could not afford the high cost of the litigation process. So ODR provides relief in terms of cost as well.
- EASY ACCESS TO JUSTICE: – ODR provides for the speedy trials, speedy and easy access to justice as it can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It provides for the speedy disposal of cases as well as ODR may provide an employment opportunity to many arbitrators and advocates.
- CONS OF ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION: –
- People who are not very familiar with the use of modern technology, will be at loss in using ODR.
- Some language and network issue can also be the big disadvantage in getting benefit of ODR.
- PENDENCY IN INDIAN COURTS
Our Indian courts are packed with the cases from different sectors. To expedite these cases our Indian Government and Judiciary is taking up major and important reforms to lower down the statics of the pending cases. But after the data its quite difficult to say when the number of cases will be lowered. The list below shows the data of pending cases in the year 2011.
Since, Justice is the main aim of Law. And it’s the best time to change the way of providing justice. We all know that disputes are still going to come, but what we can do is that we can change the way of dealing with them. The best way to handle disputes in a cost-effective manner is by using Online Dispute Resolution. We can say that Online Dispute Resolution has a wide scope but in India, we need more of its implications in cases by making people aware about this method.
Globally ODR is witnessed as a boom with the e-commerce sector when E-bay and Paypal started resolving their disputes online. Many countries like U.S.A, China, Brazil and some European Union Nations have already adopted the ODR mechanism by constituting their separate platforms to resolve disputes arising out of e-commerce transactions.
Millions of disputes have already been dealt with successfully without even filing a single suit in a traditional court of law. It is a proven fact that technology improves with time and technology being the main ingredient of different ODR methods, it is certain that ODR will come up with new and more desirable techniques.
In today’s time where everyone is adopting the internet more and more in their lives, then why the court should stop itself from using the latest technologies in the matter of cases? Justice is the necessity of the present time and it is also mandated in the Article 21 of our Indian Constitution. Everyone should get justice at affordable costs. Our government, we people should ensure that justice is delivered to all those who need it and It can’t be doubted that if the state is encouraging ODR it is thereby assisting in the attainment of a speedier economical and convenient justice system. Thus the sooner ODR is the better it will be for the nation in general and the justice seeker in particular. India needs an effective mechanism through which ODR can be used.
AUTHOR: Nishant Jain, Rwsearch Board Member 2.
[i] Part 3 Article 21 Constitution of India 1949.
[ii] Hussainara Khatoon v. Home secretary state of Bihar 1979 AIR 1369, 1979 SCR (3) 532.
[iii] State of Maharashtra v. Prafulla Desai (2003)4 scc 601
[i] Farah C, Critical analysis of online dispute resolution :optimist, realist and the bewildered, Computer
Telecommunications Law Review, 11(4), 123-128. Zondag and Lodder defined online dispute resolution as
using internet for alternative dispute resolution, constructing computer assisted dispute resolution system by
developing generic language to analyse information exchange in conflict discourse, International Review of
Law, Computer and Technology, 21(2), 191-205.