Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in India is more than 60 years old and the Arbitration Act 1940 is one of the initial laws in this regard. The 1940 Act was replaced by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 that is still governing the arbitration law of India. Now the Indian government has proposed some more amendments in the Arbitration Act 1996 of India and they may be incorporated into the parent Act in future.
Similarly, there is a proposal to amend the Consumer Protection law of India to better resolve the grievances and disputes of e-commerce consumers. This amendment must have online dispute resolution (ODR) an integral part of the same.
The present Arbitration and Consumer Protection laws though effective have become stagnant. They need techno legal updation to be in conformity with the latest technology driven trends. This is more so when we are talking about projects like smart cities and digital India.
Meanwhile, the backlog of civil cases is incessantly increasing despite the 1996 Act in place. This is due to the fact that there are many legal, procedural and fundamental weaknesses in the present legal and judicial system of India. For instance, till the month of August 2015, we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. There is no doubt that e-courts can help in reduction of backlog of cases and speedier and effective disposal of the existing and future cases.
The time for cyber arbitration in India has finally come and Indian government must seriously think in this direction. Dispute resolution has become a daunting task for Indian government and use of innovative methods can surely help in this regard. Cyber arbitration is part of the online dispute resolution (ODR) mechanism. ODR is a better and improved form of ADR provided India is willing to encash its benefits.
However, the real problem is the actual implementation of various projects by Indian government. Till now many good initiatives have been announced by the Indian government but they failed to materialise as individual who can implement the same are missing. The problem is there are very few ODR institutions in India. Even lesser are ODR experts who can resolve technical, legal and other scientific disputes in an online environment. Even the existing national litigation policy of India (NLPI) failed to address the techno legal issues.
E-commerce disputes resolution process can be significantly benefitted if we use cyber arbitration or/and ODR methods. The Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India (TLCEODRI) has launched an online dispute resolution mechanism where dispute resolution tickets can be opened. This is a good testing bed for e-commerce websites owners and central/state governments. In case simple mediation proceedings fail, then the options of Cyber/Online Arbitration and sending of legal notices is also available.
This initiative is in testing mode and very soon a full fledged and dedicated Cyber Arbitration platform would be launched by TLCEODRI. In order to train the stakeholders in this regard, TLCEODRI has also launched a dedicated blog for ODR training in India where we would post articles, opinions, views, suggestions and methods pertaining to use of Cyber Arbitration and ODR in India. An ODR discussion forum has also been launched by TLCEODRI so that public awareness about Cyber Arbitration, Online Arbitration, online dispute resolution, etc can be spread.
We hope these initiatives of TLCEODRI would prove beneficial to all stakeholders and very soon they would be exploring the Cyber Arbitration and ODR for resolving their disputes and conflicts.