Supreme Court judge Justice D Y Chandrachud has said that courts in India are "extremely burdened" and "desperately congested", and in view of the alarming rate of high pendency of cases, dispute resolution mechanism like mediation is an important tool.

He was delivering Justice Y V Chandrachud Memorial Lecture here on Friday after inaugurating the Indian Law Society's ILS Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (ILSCA). The Indian Law Society has entered its centenary year.

"We are aware that the courts in India are extremely burdened, desperately congested. Both literally and metaphorically. According to the study done by PRS Legislative Research, the pendency across all the courts grew by 2.8 per cent annually between 2010 and 2020," Justice Chandrachud said.

He added that during the past two years, the pandemic and the tribulations that it brought to the human kind, worsened the already alarming rate of pendency of cases.

The data available indicates that there are more than 4.1 crore cases pending in district and taluka courts and approximately 59 lakh cases are pending in different High Courts, Justice Chandrachud said.

"As of today, 71,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court. In view of these numbers, the dispute resolution mechanism like mediation is an important tool in increasing access to justice by providing redress and settlement of disputes in a non-adversarial manner, free from the formalistic procedural practices of the law," he said.

He said there is no doubt that mediation has risen in prominence all over the world and certainly in India and Parliament recently introduced the Mediation Bill of 2021.

"While I do not want to comment on the provisions of the bill, passionate feedback and response of various stakeholders to the provisions of the bill, clearly show that the mediation as the method of dispute resolution has come of age. Even internationally, India has indicated its strong commitment to alternate dispute resolution (ADR) by becoming one of the first group of signatories to the Singapore Convention on Mediation," he said.

Singapore Convention on Mediation is the right step in the direction of ensuring the enforcement of international mediation settlement agreement, he said, adding, "I only hope that our country soon ratifies the convention."

Justice Chandrachud began the lecture by sharing fond memories of his father, former CJI late Justice Y V Chandrachud and his warm association with the ILS.

With PTI inputs