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327

NHAI To Incorporate Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for the management National Highways network, has come up with an innovative and new dispute resolution mechanism called Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). In order to have a simpler and smoother way to resolve the pending claims and cases that worth crores of rupees (and also the future cases), the NHAI is testing the new ODR mechanism.

The ODR mechanism comes with certain advantages which can ease the whole process of dispute resolution in a much better and faster way than the traditional litigation system and consumer protection methods, like alternative dispute resolution. Under this mechanism the contractor and authority both need not to engage with an advocate. The primary idea is to achieve a prompt and in-agreement settlement between the parties and avoid all the unnecessary litigations. If this mechanism succeeds in the testing phase then it will be implemented in its full capacity in NHAI. It has the potential to play a constructive role in taking forward all the highway development projects with ease.

How does Online Dispute Resolution work?
There are multiple methods in Online Dispute Resolution to resolve the disputes from automated to crowd-justice. When the ODR is incorporated to resolve the disputes, the cases are referred to a panel of experts who will help the parties involved in the dispute to come to a common understanding and draw a solution. The case will reach the panel only when both the parties, i.e. NHAI chairman and the chief of contractor board of directors, exhaust all the scope of conciliation and settlement.

As this is a modern litigation system, the older cases, which are already in front of the courts and tribunals, can only be shifter to ODR is if both the parties are willing to involve the ODR expert panels for settlement. The private player needs to explicitly submit the request to the court or tribunal to put the hearing in abeyance.

The NHAI’s Chief General Manager (IT & Highway Operations) Mr Akhilesh Srivastava is one of the founding members of the High powered committee on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). He has developed an online portal for ODR that is due for the demo to UNCITRAL. CGM Mr Akhilesh Srivastava believes that there are great opportunities for India in ODR and it can create a significant amount of jobs, especially for the software engineers and law graduates. The ODR has the potential to India the favourite destination for dispute resolution in future.

As of now the idea of Online Dispute Resolution if very new in India but it already has started to gain the awareness among the stakeholders. In coming days, the ODR methods and cyber arbitration can create a potent scenario that will help the consumers and e-commerce portal owners to resolve their disputes in a quick, timely, cost-effective and more transparent for the new age technology-driven markets. In this spree of development around the globe, it is important to innovate continuously to stay above the pack. The Indian Government has already launched the "Digital India" initiative to promote digital and internet-based services and increase digital literacy among citizens. The ODR is also the part of the digital initiative and has the potential to make India technologically empowered so that it can stand at par with the developed countries and also ensure that the Government services are making their way to the citizens smoothly and electronically via an improved online infrastructure and strong Internet connectivity.
  
 
 

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