My Brother Judge Kirpal, Justice Sodhi, Justice Kuldip Singh, all the Judges of the Delhi and the Punjab & Haryana High Courts, past and present, Mr.Kataria, Mr.Goenka, Advocate Generals, Ladies & Gentlemen –
It has been my pleasure and privilege to be here with you today, and to have presided over this function. Whatever was required to be said on the question of Alternate Dispute Resolution has very aptly been said by Justice Kirpal and Justice Sodhi, and I do not think I can add anything to that. I may only share a thought which comes to me. Whatever the system, whether it is a judicial system, arbitration, conciliation, mediation, ombudsman, regulators, the system only functions according to the persons who man that system. Therefore, it is very necessary that good, competent people make themselves available, not only in the judiciary but even in cases of arbitration, you should have professional Arbitrators whose only work is, really doing only Arbitration. Now Justice Sodhi mentioned about Conciliation Courts in Himachal Pradesh. I’ll only mention that after the 1996 Act was enacted, in Bombay also, we tried this experiment. In fact, we made 3 court rooms available, we requested a large number of our retired Judges, to act as Conciliators. The Judges made themselves available. Most of us referred almost all matters, to those Judges for conciliation, just after the matters were filed. However, I am sorry to say, that unlike Himachal Pradesh, in Bombay, it did not work at all. Hardly any matter was settled, and I would like to share the reason why that happened. Without meaning any disrespect, the reason was the community, known as the community of lawyers. The lawyers in Bombay, for reasons best known to them, did not allow or hardly allowed any matter to get settled. Today, if we look at it, the body of lawyers is a body which is involved in almost all these fields, whether it is the judicial process, whether it is arbitration, whether it is conciliation. The lawyers in fact, can play a very major role. A client first goes to a lawyer. When a client goes to a lawyer and the lawyer hears him, most lawyers, realise and know, whether there is justice in the case or there is no justice in the case. At that stage itself, if a lawyer feels that there is no justice in the case, it is no business of the lawyer to then encourage that litigant to go any further. At that stage, the lawyer must make an effort to put an end to the dispute, either by conciliation or by settlement or ultimately, by telling the client he has absolutely no case. Similarly today, infact, I remember a stage, when even I was a practising lawyer and even after I became a Judge, where, if a party had no case, the lawyer hardly argued in a court of law. Today we have a situation, where even when there is no case, lawyers vehemently press, and insist on arguing. All this is adding to the delay. All this is resulting in justice being denied. I would only say that whatever the method, the community of lawyers can play a big role in dealing out justice, and that it is time the community, now acted. Thank you very much. I have nothing further to say.