Mediation Advisory Centre as an alternative dispute redressal mechanism promoted by Department of Consumers – Govt. of India jointly with FICCI and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ (through Indo-German Program ASEM( Advisory Services in Environment Management). The purpose of this initiative is to promote non-litigation dispute redressal mechanisms in India, especially for Consumer Dispute Redressal. This is a pilot project for one year.

Procedure:

Where all the parties opt and agree for Mediation, they shall apply to the Registrar, District Forum, and the Registrar shall, within ten days of the application, refer the matter to mediation.

Mediation is completely voluntary mechanism, and any new case, where all parties agree to resolve the dispute through Mediation the Registrar of the District Forum, after evaluating the matter believe that the dispute can be resolved through Mediation, will refer the parties to the mediator/ Mediation Advisory Centre (MAC). The new cases will not be registered in the District Forum. However the Forum will maintain the record register of such disputes referred for Mediation.

The District Forum shall, after recording admissions of the suit, and where it appears to the District Forum that there exists an element of a mediation which may be acceptable to the parties shall direct the parties to opt for mediation for settlement of disputes outside the District Forum, provided that the District Forum, in the exercise of such power, shall not refer any dispute to Mediation, without the written consent of all the parties to the suit.

Mediation is legally binding if both parties agree upon a mutual resolution. This resolution must be signed by both the parties and this agreement is entered as an official record.

Main advantages of mediation are:

1. It saves time, energy and money.

2. Disputes can be resolved in a couple of sittings only, total period not exceeding 30 days.

3. Parties can represent themselves without the involvement and objections of lawyers(opposite party’s).

4. The whole procedure remains confidential

Case example:

Ms Sharmistha Mukhopadhyay of Chennai had a dispute with a furniture company in Chennai with regard to refund of furniture booking money of Rs.20,000/- that she had paid at the time of ordering furniture. For some reasons the project got delayed and Ms. Mukhopadhyay cancelled her booking and sought refund. The company was willing to refund only 50% of the advance money paid by Ms. Mukhopadhyay. Ms. Mukhopadyay approached India Consumer Forum. We studied the matter and also the documents produced by the customer. We wrote to the company citing the deficiencies on their part and asked them to refund the sum after deduction administrative charges. However, they refused this. We suggested the customer to approach District Consumer Forum. DCF in turn referred her to Mediation Advisory Center and the issue was resolved in favour of the customer.

This is what Ms. Mukhopadhyay had to say:

I would like to thank India Consumer forum for their valuable suggestion. I had paid an advance of Rs 20, 000 to a furniture company in Chennai in July 2011. Because of their unprofessional attitude towards the project I was forced to cancel the order in the March 2012. At that point they refused to pay 50 percent of the money back without prior information. India Consumer Form requested the company to return the full amount but they still refused. I was then advised by Mr. N. Iyer from ICF to send notice through District consumer Forum. When I was I investigating about the district consumer court I came to know about Mediation Activation Centre at Mylapore, Chennai. I lodged a complaint there and by counseling only I got the full amount back with in two weeks time.
 
Thanks once again to ICF for their prompt replies, and constructive suggestions. They did very bit to resolve the problem without going through the court hassle. 

Centres:

Presently MAC has centres at the following places and hopefully some more may be added depending upon the success of the project.

Madhya Pradesh – Bhopal

Mediation Advisory Centre, Madhya Pradesh
Advocates Recreation Hall,
Madhya Pradesh Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission
In Front of Central School, No 1
76,Arera Hills Bhopal (M.P.) 462011

Tamilnadu – Chennai

C/O State Commission Disputes Redressal Commission
Slum Clearance Board buildings,
II floor, [Southern Wing],
212, RK Mutt Road, Mylapore, Chennai – 4.

Orissa – Bhubaneswar

Office of the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum – Khurdha
Khandagiri, Bhubaneswar – 751030
Orissa

West Bengal – Kolkata

Mediation Advisory Centre, West Bengal
Consumer District Redressal Forum, Kolkata Unit – 1
8B, Nelie Sengupta Sarani, Kolkata 700087

More details are available at http://www.mediationadvisory.in



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