A. K. Patnaik: The Man adding Wind under The Wings Of ADR
Issue 13 | September 13, 2020
Abbreviated as ADR, Alternative Dispute Resolution denotes the use of several means to settle disputes –between disagreeing parties– outside of the courtroom. Since ADR strives to solve disputes without involving litigation, in most cases it is cost-effective and also saves the disputing parties from the typical and horrendous time delays. ADR generally involves negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. With countries all around the globe resorting to their ADR mechanisms to tackle the surging numbers of cases, India is no exception in the field.
According to National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), as on July 1, 2019, 3.53 crore cases were pending in India. Further, there is no surprise how adversely the pandemic has affected the disposal rate of cases in 2020. With the ballooning pile of pending cases, and courts still playing catch-up with the backlog, the role of the ADR mechanism has now become more significant than ever before. In India, ADR is regulated by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Parliament enacted the act of 1996 with the view to remodel the Arbitration Act of 1940.
Although there are many responsible for helping ADR gain the momentum –it has today– in India, this bit acknowledges Hon’ble Justice Ananga Kumar Patnaik.
Justice Patnaik, a sought-after arbitrator and former judge of the Supreme Court of India, specializes in commercial and constitutional law. After completing his schooling from Rajkumar College, Raipur, Justice Patnaik graduated with honours in political science from the University of Delhi. He then went on to complete his LL.B. from Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack. He has also been the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh as well as the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Justice Patnaik, with his notable works, has had an all-embracing influence on the culture of national arbitration and also on the entire Indian legal community. In an interview (on arbitration) with Adv. Gaurav Rai in Jul. 2019, Justice Patnaik disclosed how arbitration is a much better fit in many ways than a civil suit for disputing parties. In his own words, “The major difference is this that in arbitration when a date and time of the hearing is fixed, only one matter is fixed before the arbitral Tribunal and that one matter may go on for 2 hours, 4 hours, or 5 hours, etc. In a court case, there are several matters fixed in a day. So, parties appearing before a court do not know whether their case will be taken up on that day. Whereas, before an arbitrator, once the matter is fixed, the parties know that the case will be taken up by the arbitrators.”
Justice A.K. Patnaik started taking up arbitration cases after retiring from the Supreme Court of India in 2014. According to him, with arbitration in India getting quicker after the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015, the parties from abroad now have started appreciating the process. He also thinks that now that the major metropolitan cities like New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai are witnessing faster and more efficient arbitration, the parties have no good reason to go out of the country for the same.
The Government, even after erecting numerous distinct tribunals across the country, is not able to deal efficiently with the increasing number of pending cases. In a scenario like this, ADR comes to the aid of the judiciary. The mechanism does not only help to alleviate the colossal burden on the courts but also helps the disagreeing parties to reach the desired results in a relatively shorter period. Plus, with India having able arbitrators like Justice Patnaik in its arsenal, the country is sure to soar to greater heights!