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The Evolution And Impact Of Online Dispute Resolution In India Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

Online Dispute Resolution is a technique of dispute settlement that utilizes the use of software to help parties resolve their issues. Negotiation, mediation, arbitration, Conciliation, etc. can be used in the settlement of disputes. Online systems by using gadgets such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.

The Online system can be done by video conferencing, recording of video and audio, text messaging, by voice call facility. Video call conferencing can be done by more than two persons, and some video call applications such as Vimeo, Google Duo, Google Meet, Zoom, etc. The online method can be done by using internet connectivity as well as a mobile network.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic from the past few months resulting in lockdowns in various parts of the world, everything goes online such as classes, exams, delivery of food, goods, etc. The dispute resolution settlement is done online. This Online dispute resolution helps in providing cheap methods by eliminating transportation costs, and venue costs, it can be done in all the places in the world except the places that have no network connectivity. It also helps in providing time-saving and due to the pandemic to avoid gathering in place, it has become the most important method to resolve disputes.

In India, the use of ODR increased due to the pandemic but still, there is a lag, due to the joint reading of three provisions in the Indian Act (the Evidence Act), the Information Technology Act), and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act). The other issue faced by ODR in India is jurisdiction enforcement and geographical and territorial limitations.

There is a requirement for amendments in the provisions of the three acts so that Online dispute resolution can become a more effective and friendly process during the time of the pandemic. There should be promotion of online dispute resolution and the government should take the initiative to add provisions on Page 5 of 10 IT act for ODR like cyber-crime to help in the reduction of burden in the domestic court.

The digital India concept shows the maximizing of the utilization of electronic gadgets and network/internet service in rural India, which also helps in the development of online use of dispute settlement mechanisms.

Justice DY Chandrachud said, above all, there needs to be a fundamental mindset change- to look upon dispute resolution not as relatable to a place, namely a court, where justice is administered, but as a service that is availed of. (1)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way of living in India, millions of things remained incomplete, the judicial court disputes which are always on the mark of clich of late disposal of cases also remained incomplete due to lockdown, and lakhs of lawyers lost source of income due to pandemic due to restriction of physical hearing of the court.

Online dispute resolution takes steps not only to provide support due to the pandemic but it provides various steps to remove the burden and facilitate speedy disposal of cases, the disputes of businesses that require a highly expert body can be used for a smooth settlement. The ODR can help in filling the gaps in domestic courts by using various ADR methods. ODR provides service to various businesses, start-ups, constructions, banking, e-commerce, etc., to speedy settlements, service to the citizens, and new lawyers by using the ODR in the pandemic as a source of income.

The different business houses, and companies' agreements they should adopt using ADR as well as ODR mechanism should be made in contract agreement and separate agreements should be done. The data privacy protection, likewise intellectual property protection disputes require speedy disposal of cases due to the pandemic the ODR helps fill all the gaps.

The ODR's capability is clear, but there are still significant obstacles to overcome for lawyers to adopt it. The problem arises due to a lack of awareness of ODR and technology awareness of using Online system methods among persons. The main objective is to improve of justice delivery mechanisms process and more options for justice delivery to complete the disputes in this overpopulated country like India.

The government to make some policies and provisions in the acts to promote the awareness of using ODR in India and there should be proper training facilities about the ADR and ODR for the lawyers due to lack of knowledge of the ADR process.

There should be a proper ecosystem using online mechanisms, and framework, and different steps should be taken by the government to overcome the barriers and help in building the proper ODR mechanisms. The (Ministry of Law and Justice) and (NITI Aayog) can play an important body in the development of ODR in India. So, it is necessary and important to have proper laws in India like in other countries.

  1. Aditi Singh, Nirat Bhatnagar, Siddhant Damani, Charles Hobbs, Nehal Sarda, Accelerating the Adoption of ODR in India Could Transform How Disputes Are Resolved in an Overburdened System, DAHLBERG, (June 19, 2021, 11:30 AM),[1]disputes-are-resolved-in-an-overburdened-system/

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