ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Trends from the Bangalore Mediation Centre

Mediating Matrimonial Disputes in India

Dispute resolution through negotiation has long been a part of the Indian legal tradition, though the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, was only amended in 1999 to include different mechanisms for out-of-court dispute resolution. This amendment brought mediation into focus as a key form of alternate dispute resolution. Data from Bangalore Mediation Centre points to issues in the mediation framework that must be addressed before mediation can be seen as an effective mechanism to resolve matrimonial disputes. These include inadequate training of mediators, judges giving mediation referrals without proper consideration, gendered power imbalances, and prioritising the institution of marriage over individuals’ interests. This paper argues for an evidence-based approach to studying matrimonial cases and mediation.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms have long been touted as an efficient substitute to traditional adjudication of legal disputes by courts (Law Commission of India 1978, 1979). However, it was only in 1999 that the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), 1908, was amended to include Section 89, which codified different mechanisms for such out-of-court resolutions. Mediation, one of the four mechanisms delineated in the provision—is a voluntary non-adjudicative form of dispute resolution where a neutral third party assists parties in reaching an amicable solution through negotiation and facilitation (Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee, nd). Although dispute resolution through negotiation has long been a part of Indian tradition, this amendment, which came into effect only in 2002, brought mediation into focus as a key form of alternate dispute resolution. It also provided legislative impetus to court-connected mediation, which is a model that enables sitting judges to refer cases before them for mediation. However, it was not until the Supreme Court’s decision in Salem Advocate Bar Association v Union of India (2005) that a framework for court-connected mediation centres was established and model rules formulated (Konoorayar et al 2014).1

1 Court-connected Mediation and Matrimonial Disputes

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