Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography described his experience at amicable dispute resolution as an exercise in uniting parties riven asunder. This is really the essence of mediation. Justice delivery is the primary responsibility of judges and judicial officers as it is they who are given the task of interpreting the laws and adjudicating disputes. Keeping both in mind, that is, the experience of Mahatma Gandhi as well as the primary duty of judicial officers, the Delhi Mediation Centre (started by the District Courts in Delhi) has evolved a unique method of alternative dispute resolution which can best be described as 'judicial mediation'. This form of dispute resolution was initiated by a Committee appointed by the Chief Justice of India consisting of Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court, a Judge of the Delhi High Court, Senior Advocates and a judicial officer as being best suited to the needs of litigants in India and in consonance with the social ethos of our country. In this background, even though judicial officers were trained by American experts in mediation, the Delhi Mediation Centre did not adopt the mediation models prevailing in America but developed its own unique model which seeks to realize the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, through judicial officers who need to be encouraged, even otherwise, to resolve disputes in a spirit of compromise and settlement, which is also envisaged by Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure. One of the most significant aspects of judicial mediation is that the service is provided at absolutely no cost to any litigant. On the contrary, on the conclusion of a successful mediation, followed by a decree, the plaintiff is entitled to (and is given) a refund of court fees in terms of Section 16 of the Court Fees Act, 1870. In cases where the Mediator feels it appropriate, tea or coffee is even offered to the litigants and their lawyers free of charge. All this has added to the uniqueness of the judicial mediation programme conducted by the Delhi Mediation Centre. Apart from case settlement, as a result of the effective management of the programme, the Delhi Mediation Centre has been able to successfully train eleven judicial officers as mediators and has even been invited by the Madhya Pradesh High Court (at Jabalpur) and the National Judicial Academy at Bhopal to share its experiences and conduct training programmes in mediation-an achievement to be proud of.

The Concept of Mediation is ancient and deep rooted in our country. In olden days disputes used to be resolved in a Panchayat at the community level. Panches used to be called Panch Parmeshwar. Now we have grown into a country of 125 crore people and with liberalization and globalization, there is tremendous economic growth. All this has led to explosion of litigation in our country. Though our judicial system is one of the best in the world and is highly respected, but there is lot of criticism on account of long delays in the resolution of disputes in a court of law. Now an honest litigant is wary of approaching the court for a decision of his dispute. Hence, we have turned to Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms. The Supreme Court of India has started the process of reforms in the Indian Judicial System. Hon'ble Mr. Justice A.H. Ahmedi, the then Chief Justice of India in the year 1966 invited the Institute for the Study and Development of Legal Systems (ISDLS), USA to participate in a national assessment of the backlog in the civil courts. Studies were made in respect of the causes of delay in the civil jurisdiction in our country.