New Delhi: With three crore cases pending in courts, the government may consider changes in legal procedure to make it mandatory for a litigant to issue a notice to the opposite party before initiating formal proceedings to enable them explore the possibility of a pre-litigation settlement.
According to a Law Ministry document, this would help curtail "unnecessary litigation" as people would then approach courts to settle civil contractual disputes as a last resort.
The Department of Legal Affairs and Legislative Department in the Law Ministry "may explore" the possibility of bringing changes in procedural laws to introduce a requirement of mandatory notice to the opposite party before initiation of legal proceedings, sources said.
"This will help in curtailing unnecessary litigation as many parties may choose to settle the cases even prior to the initiation of formal legal proceedings," a Ministry document states.
According to the note, very often parties may be able to resolve the contractual differences between them through direct negotiations, without resorting to any formal or informal dispute resolution mechanisms.
It referred to an April, 2009 Law Commission report which made a "pertinent recommendation in this regard in its 221st report on the 'Need for Speedy Trial -- some suggestions'."
The law panel had referred to Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) which requires that a litigant who proposes to initiate legal proceedings against the State or a public officer must give two months advance written notice to the concerned party and suggested that a similar provision should be introduced for all categories of civil cases.
"A provision of this nature is already seen in Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, which provides that a claim for dishonour of cheque can only arise after the claimant has issued prior written notice to the drawer of the cheque and the drawer has failed to make the payment of the relevant amount within 15 days of the receipt of the notice," it said.