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New Delhi/ Patna : NITI Aayog, in association with Patna High Court, organised 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 December 7, 2020, with a focus on online dispute resolution (ODR), with addresses by Justice Navin Sinha, Judge, Supreme Court of India, Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Patna High Court, Justice Hemant Srivastava, Chairman, Bihar State Legal Services Authority, Patna High Court Justice Ashwani Kumar Singh, Chairman, High Court Legal Services Committee,  Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, and domain experts.

Over 1,000 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 digitised 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, according to a PIB release.

In his welcome 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,“one of the most encouraging developments recently is how progressive and innovative the Courts have been in adopting technology.”

Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Patna High Court, in his address affirmed,“All officers of Patna High Court have taken a vow since March 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.”

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, “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, 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 Justice (Retd.) A K Sikri. Ms Deepika Kinhal, Team Lead, JALDI, elaborated on the concept and benefits of ODR for citizens in India. The next meeting in the series will be held shortly, according to a PIB release.