President Ram Nath Kovind today said that the concept of mediation in judiciary is yet to find widespread acceptance due to certain bottlenecks, but added that all stakeholders should display a positive attitude towards the subject in order to achieve the desired result.

He also said that the topmost objective of switching the justice delivery system to information and communication technology (ICT) should be improvement of access to justice.

He was addressing the inaugural event of the two-day National Judicial Conference on Mediation and Information Technology organised near the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Gujarat's Narmada district. Chief Justice of India N V Ramana was among other dignitaries present at the inaugural function.

"Truly speaking, in mediation, everyone is a winner. Having said that, one has to admit that the concept is yet to find widespread acceptance across the country. Not enough trained mediators are available at some places. Infrastructural facilities at many mediation centres badly need upgradation," Kovind said.

He said these "bottlenecks" have to be addressed at the earliest to help the wider population benefit from this effective tool.

"Moreover, all stakeholders should display a positive attitude towards mediation if we want to achieve desired results," he further said, while emphasising on the importance of training in this regard.

Training can be provided at different levels, from introductory courses at the induction stage to refresher courses for mid-career professionals, he said. He praised the Mediator and Conciliation Project Committee of the Supreme Court for "doing a great job by organising training programmes in the states.

Kovind said the misconception among lawyers about mediation being a "threat to their profession" must have been removed in the last two decades, during which period all stakeholders have recognised mediation as "an effective tool for dispute resolution".

"If anything, it (mediation) is an additional feature in their skills and expertise. Successful mediation not only provides a high amount of recognition to the lawyer, but it also gives great job satisfaction," the President said. He also quoted Mahatma Gandhi as having said he preferred the way of mediation above all, despite having a highly successful career as a lawyer.

In terms of switching the justice delivery system to information and communication technology, Kovind said its top-most objective has to be "improvement of access to justice".

"I would add that among many objectives of the switch to ICT, the topmost has to be the improvement of access to justice. What we are aiming at is not change for sake of change, but change for the sake of a better world," he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has proved to be an opportunity for digital revolution, which proved most helpful in maintaining essential activities and keeping the wheels of the economy moving, he added.

"Even before the pandemic, the justice delivery system had benefited from ICT to improve the quantity and quality of the services delivered to litigants and all stakeholders," the president said. Kovind cited the e-Committee of the apex court, which with the active support of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice completed two phases of the e-courts project.

"As a result, there is smooth access to the statistics as published on the portal of the e-courts," he said. The president said that while the judiciary must have been facing several issues in shifting to the digital world, these are broadly known as "change management" and are part of the transformation.

With PTI inputs