Kerala has always been a step ahead in development compared to other states in India. It’s been so vibrant because of its multi cultural ethnicity. Hence it’s called gods own country. Now Kerala has introduced a new mechanism for dispute resolution at the grassroots level. It’s called the Community Mediation Volunteer Program.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms are well known to people these days, because ADR is being adopted for many complex and controversial cases to resolve conflicts more successfully. Recently a body under Hon’ble Kerala High court, named KSMCC (Kerala State Mediation and Conciliation Centre) and KeLSA (Kerala State Legal Service Authority) introduced a new grassroots level dispute resolution mechanism in order to reduce the pendency in courts in an effective manner. KSMCC’s professional mediator trainers Adv.PG Suresh, Adv.Thankachan VP and Adv.Noorbina Rsheed gave a 20-hour training to selected people from various communities in Community Mediation. Through this they will mediate conflicts in their community. As a multi-cultural society, the role of community leaders in conflicts regarding intra-community issues is relevant. So the decision to teach leaders the process of mediation is very much worth appreciation.
There have been mechanisms similar to mediation in communities called “othutheerpp” and in many such cases power imbalances between parties, confidentiality issues, and enforceability of decisions, were hurdles to its’ success. But advanced techniques in Mediation helps these CMV’s solve these issues more diligently and the final outcome can be made enforceable.
The statistics reflect that 28 million cases are pending in Indian Courts. It will take 464 years to settle all these disputes if we calculate it by taking average life span of a case as 3-4 years. That’s why, when the mastermind behind this project, Hon’ble High court Justice Musthaq sir along with Hon’ble State Secratery of KeLSA Nissar Ahmed sir presented the idea in a meeting of NLSA (National Legal Service Authority), many other states supported the idea. After its first phase in Kerala, many states have shown their keen interest in implementing the system in their states. India needs a grassroots level system that helps to reduce the number cases in lower courts.
Kerala has implemented such a model of which the pilot stage was set in Kochi and it was a success. And the second project has started in Kozhikode. 32 representatives from various social service organisations participated in the training program held at Calicut. These representatives will function as community mediation volunteers with responsibility to facilitate mediation of disputes in their social groups. The disputes raised at social organisations which were conventionally sold by its members will now be redirected to community mediation volunteers sponsored by these social service organisations. The social service organisations will open community mediation centres for this purpose. Furthermore, resolutions formed through community mediation can be made into executable degree by submitting PLP (Pre Litigation Petition) at Lok adalath.
The majority of the family disputes and other compoundable offences can be sent to CMV’s to mediate in an amicable manner. The Kerala Model Shows that this is possible through the Community Mediation Volunteer Program. India can easily adopt the system of CMV’s to promote free and proactive legal aid mechanisms in all social arenas. In India, the majority of people have less access to the courts and to the legal system. It is, however, possible to penetrate in to the grassroots through the CMV program, making the justice delivery system more accessible.
Feature Image: Trained Community Mediation Volunteers, with Honarable High Court and District Court Judges