The National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, (NUJS) has become the first law school in the country to have its own student-run mediation clinic. On February 3rd, 2019, the NUJS Mediation Clinic was officially inaugurated by Hon'ble Supreme Court Justice A.K Sikri who is presently serving as the Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in the presence of the Law Minister Moloy Ghatak, Hon'ble Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court, Justice Biswanath Somadder, Vice Chancellor, Amit Talkudar, Jishnu Saha, Senior Advocate, Kolkata High Court, Durga Khaitan, Member Secretary, SLSA, and faculty in-charge of Indian Mediation Week (IMW), Ms. Vaneeta Patnaik.
Inaugurating the Clinic, Hon'ble Justice Sikri noted, “I really admire the spirit, dedication and commitment of students of NUJS for promoting and advancing mediation in India. I am of firm view that in many ways, mediation is the best form of access to justice. When students themselves get involved in the movement, I see a bright future not only for mediation but entire access to justice campaign”.
This Clinic will be coordinating mediation awareness activities under the NUJS ADR Society and Indian Mediation Week (IMW), a pan-India mediation awareness campaign initiated by NUJS students which has spread to 102 cities across the country. It will also serve as a platform to provide pro-bono mediation services for cases and help enable better access to justice in India.
In picture: Hon'ble Supreme Court Justice A.K.Sikri with Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder interacting with the students at the inauguration of the Mediation Clinic
The Indian Mediation Week (IMW) was originally launched in 2017 as pan-India mediation awareness campaign by two NUJS students, Pranjal Sinha and Akshetha Ashok, and a software engineer, Vikram Kumar under the aegis of their tech-mediation startup ODRways founded in 2015. They have 104 professional mediators in 26 cities across India.
Based on the motto “Suljhao, Magar Pyaar Se”, the campaign aims to create awareness and sensitize the common man of India with benefits of resolving their disputes by communicating and collaboration, instead of fighting in courts. It is officially supported by NITI Aayog and Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. Conceptualized and initiated in NUJS, Kolkata, this campaign has spread to 102 cities across India with more than 2000 volunteers working across the country. In less than 18 months, they have sensitized more than 5 lakh people about the benefits of mediation, and resolved more than 600 cases with the help of professional mediators, ranging from consumer disputes, family problems to 400 crore worth mining disputes.
In the last two years, the “Suljhao Magar Pyaar Se” campaign saw the support from the former Law Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid, the Hon'ble Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur as well as K.N Tripathi, Governor of West Bengal and Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar. In 2018, Hon'ble Vice President of India, Mr. Venkiah Naidu, M.P, Lok Sabha, Shashi Tharoor, M.P, Varun Gandhi, and famous Indian cricket commentator, Harsha Bhogle also joined the "Suljhao Magar Pyaar Se" campaign. The campaign received international recognition from World Mediation Organization, International Mediation Institute to lawyers in Australia, USA, Japan, China etc.
For their efforts to promote mediation in India, in 2017, ODRways was given the prestigious recognition by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India in the list of top 12 dispute resolution centers of India. In pursuance of the mandatory mediation law passed under the amended commercial courts act, Business-Mediation Summit were conducted under the second edition of IMW in four metro cities of India; Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, with the aim to sensitize the commercial sector of India with effective dispute resolution practices.