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CATALYZING ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ODR) IN INDIA

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

NITI Aayog, in association with Agami and Omidyar Network India, brought together key stakeholders in a virtual meeting for advancing Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India.

This exercise set into motion the use of technology towards efficient and affordable access to justice in our post-pandemic response.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)

  • Online dispute resolution (ODR) is a branch of dispute resolution which uses technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties.
  • It primarily involves negotiation, mediation or arbitration, or a combination of all three.
  • In this respect it is often seen as being the online equivalent of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
  • However, ODR can also augment these traditional means of resolving disputes by applying innovative techniques and online technologies to the process.
  • ODR is a wide field, which may be applied to a range of disputes; from interpersonal disputes including consumer to consumer disputes (C2C) or marital separation; to court disputes and interstate conflicts.
  • While courts are becoming digitized through the efforts of the judiciary, more effective, scalable, and collaborative mechanisms of containment and resolution are urgently needed.

Highlights of recommendations in the meeting

  • ODR should be made mandatory for specified categories.
  • Private ODR and ADR providers need to be complemented to ensure that online resolution can reach different industries, locations, and parts of the country and also support the public institutions in a big way.
  • The future will be a hybrid model that combines offline courts, online courts and ODR.

Challenges in implementation of ODR

  • It is a new endeavour as Arbitration proceedings have not been widely practiced in India.
  • Poor Access to internet connectivity in the remote areas will impede ODR proceedings.
  • Infrastructural and institutional limitations curtail the rapid growth of ODR in almost all developing countries including India.
  • The ODR mechanism has not been able to inculcate trust and confidence amongst people for obvious constraints of technology, awareness and apprehensive, sceptical approach of people.
  • Limited by lack of physical existence and face-to-face interaction between the parties to the dispute.

Progress of Implementation of ODR in India

  • The General Assembly of the United Nations has recommended the use of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in 1985.
  • The model law can be used in cases where a dispute arises in the context of international commercial relations and the parties seek an amicable settlement of that dispute by recourse to conciliation.
  • India has incorporated these uniform principles of alternative dispute resolution in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
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September 2022
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