The COVID-19 pandemic unquestionably presents an era-defining challenge to public health and the global economy. It appears that despite the overwhelming nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, there could be a hoard of disputes, in trade and businesses, well after the world is free of the lethal virus. This could spread across sectors: banks, consumer issues with airlines/hotels etc, lack of access to basic essential services/public utilities. People are falling behind payments and potential job losses and pay cuts could have a direct impact on default in loan payments affecting the banking sector.
The Supreme Court and various high courts across India are already adopting video-conferencing tools to become virtual courts and hear urgent matters. Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, had already issues an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) notification in 2017, urging government departments to use ODR platform across the country to resolve pending cases efficiently. (Notification available here)
People and businesses won’t have the power/time to fight while they trying to survive. With majority of the offline services being limited, online services become crucial. With no time to waste or large amounts of money to be spent, Online-collaborative Dispute Resolution (ODR) will play the most important role in keeping the wheels of justice rolling. An online lok adalat, held remotely, will ensure that access to justice continues. The following disputes will be covered; loan matters, family disputes, MACT issues, S-138 cheque bounces etc.
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