Online dispute resolution (ODR) in India is in its infancy stage and it is gaining prominence day by day. With the enactment of Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) in India, e-commerce and e-governance have been given a formal and legal recognition. Even the traditional arbitration law of India has been reformulated and now India has Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 in place that is satisfying the harmonized standards of UNCITRAL Model. Even the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 has been amended and section 89 has been introduced to provide methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in India.
However, the fact is that the increasing backlog of cases is posing a big threat to the judicial system of India. The same was even more true in the early 90s, but due to the computerization process in the Supreme Court and other courts, that was reduced to a great extent. However, the backlog is still alarming. This is because mere computerization of courts or other constitutional offices will not make much difference. What we need is a will and desire to use the same for speedy disposal of various assignments.
There is a lack of training among police, lawyers, judges, etc regarding use of information and communication technology (ICT) for legal, judicial and ADR /ODR purposes. Judges in India need cyber law training, e-courts training, ADR/ODR training, etc that allow them to effectively understand and use ICT for judicial and ADR/ODR purposes. Perry4Law has launched a techno-legal ADR and ODR Training Centre in India to fill the much needed gap.
India has to cover a long gap before the benefits of ICT can be used for effective day to day functioning of its courts. The easy task of computerization has already been achieved to some extent but the real task is still yet to be achieved. For instance, although computerization efforts are satisfactory regarding courts in India, yet until now, India does not have even a single e-court. This is because the difficult part of establishing e-courts in India has yet to be achieved.
ODR and e-courts may hold the key to growing heaps of backlog of cases in India but the political will is essential to achieve the same. In the absence of political will, we have to be satisfied by half-hearted, half-baked and failed e-governance projects alone.