Settlement of disputes in an amicable way is the hall-mark of civilization. In ancient India, mediation system has been prevalent in one form or the other. It has continued in our villages and has also been preserved in its customary form in our tribal areas. So far as formal litigation system is concerned, mediation, along with other methods of Alternative Disputes Resolution, has been statutorily recognized by the Civil Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 1999 which introduced section 89 thereto.
An idea of the immense value that mediation imbibes in itself can be had by separately treating the wide array of unique features clustered under the mediation rubric. These features include severability, flexibility, party-participation, consensus, self-reflection, preservation of ongoing relationships and/or peaceful termination of relationships, etc. It fosters peaceable and healthier inter-personal interactions in the long term, thereby pre-empting the causes of conflict in the society. The benefits of such processes as mediation are further fortified from the fact that imminent legal personalities, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Nani Palkhiwala, have taken pleasure and pride in continually settling cases out of court, in uniting the parties driven asunder by conflict and discouraging litigation. In the words of Guatam Budhha, "Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that gives peace", which even is reflected in the famous Sanskrit quote “santosham paramam sukham”. Mediation is one of the modes for attainment of 'Peace'.
An evaluation of the usefulness of anything presupposes an awareness of what it is and the particular value that it has to offer. Though mediation as a process of dispute resolution is not new to our nation, in the changed social scenario an effective adaptation of the traditional methodology to the new conditions requires untiring efforts and devotion to be dutifully put into this reform process right from its inception to its culmination into an effective practice.
The Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee, Supreme Court of India has sought to tie together the various strands that have been the subject-matter of debate from time to time as regards the benefits and/or suitability of ADR methods of dispute resolution, by way of various Regional Conferences organized across the length and breadth of the country. Conferences have been successfully held at Guwahati, Lucknow, Jammu, Bangalore, and Mumbai. These Conferences have witnessed brainstorming discussions of the strategies for integration of mediation within the conventional Court System. It is these exploring and inspirational discussions held at the Regional Conferences that have fructified into this National Conference on Mediation.
The first and foremost task before the Committee was to train the mediators. The Committee decided 40-Hours Mediation Training and 10 actual mediations as the essential qualification required for a mediator to be able to be entrusted the task of mediating disputes. Further, it was felt by the Committee that various schools of thought were prevalent in the country regarding the topics, curriculum and methodology for training of the mediators. The Committee thought it appropriate that a uniform training manual adaptable to local situations, but at the same time assimilating the cream of various mediation centres, was essential to be uniformly followed throughout the country in order to streamline the functioning of mediation in India. Based on that, a Sub-Committee was constituted under the able guidance of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph (former Judge, Supreme Court of India and Member, MCPC) to lay down a uniform Mediation Training Manual of India. It consisted of experts drawn from different mediation centres in the country. The Sub-Committee divided the topics among its various members, who prepared individual chapters. It was a tough job to marshal all the inputs received from the experts, taking the best of various institutions and the views of various experts on the subject. The Chairman of the Sub-Committee, with his rich and valuable experience and clarity of vision, could lead the team in assimilating the concepts of mediation.
The deliberation on the various topics to form a crystallized manual was an onerous task. The Sub-Committee met on several days, sat from morning till evening, discussed threadbare each topic, and after a long process of chiseling and polishing, has finally come out with a detailed, thorough and final version of the Manual.
This Manual is the product of a team work and intellectual exercise of the experts. The SubCommittee has accomplished a major project of the Committee, initiated by the visionary Judge, Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.B. Sinha, carried forward by Hon'ble Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran, who conceptualized and popularized mediation, and Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dalveer Bhandari, under whose able guidance mediation has become a vast movement in the country.
The Mediation and Conciliation Committee hopes that this Training Manual will facilitate and help guide mediation in growing not as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, but as another effective mode of disputes resolution. We place this Manual with great sense of satisfaction for the benefit of the trainers, mediators, referral judges, litigants and common man and all those who strive to achieve peace through mediation. We expect that through this endeavour of the Committee, we are able to bring to life the words of Joseph Grynbaum, "an ounce of mediation is worth a pound of arbitration and a ton of litigation!"
Judge, Supreme Court of India