Concept of Alternative Dispute Resolutions in Olden days
In the earlier days before the formation and establishment of courts in the country, the dispute between the parties was resolved by the method of mediation. The concept of mediation was unlike the modern term for mediation. The mediator was generally headed by a person with higher status and respect in the village and also a person with a good intellectual ability to handle and resolve the dispute effectively and efficiently. The mediation in the olden days resolves conflicts between the parties were known as “ Panchayat”. The Panchayat could be a village Panchayat, Caste Panchayat, Guild Panchayat it acted as an informal mechanism for the Alternative Dispute Resolution. The Panchayat will be headed by a person (Sarpanch) who is unbiased to the people of the locality called the Village headman and also provide fair decision rendering justice to the aggrieved party. The village headman acted as a mediator in the olden days to resolve all kinds of disputes between the parties in the village and maintain peace and harmony among the villagers. The village headman was assisted by some people of the same character or cadre from several castes in the locality. The dispute between the individuals was heard by the Panchayat and decision was given by the Panchayat based on the facts and circumstances and deciding relevant solutions or remedies for the dispute. The decision given by the panchayat was to be accepted by the disputants.
The main objective of mediation through Panchayat was based on the welfare of the people of the village and also to support their relationship smooth and maintain good relations and harmony among the disputants. It was an effective and efficient way to resolve all kinds of disputes that arose between the villagers. The disputes in olden days seldom reached Courts for settling disputes. The disputes relating to complicated civil disputes, criminal suits, or family disputes were also sorted out by mediation through Panchayat. It can be interpreted that people trusted and relied more on Panchayat when compared to the courts because of speedy justice, effective and also peace and satisfactory, unlike the courts which is time-consuming and expensive in the country. Such type of dispute resolution maintained a friendly relationship between the disputants even after resolving such disputes. It stood as an appropriate method to resolve disputes of a smaller section of the group keeping in mind there necessity and requirements. But subsequently, the mediation through Panchyat for settling disputes has evaded over the past years as it has failed due to the intervening of politics and the communal feeling among the people.
Change in the ADR process
The concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution originated from America and over the few decades, based on the necessity and requirement a new ADR process was introduced for resolving conflicts at a huge spectrum, unlike the Panchayat which was limited to a group of people.ADR process was more widened including various settling processes such as Arbitration, Mediation, Conciliation, Negotiation, and Lok Adalat. The process is designed to manage community or for facilitate community development issues.