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Mediation needed to resolve gender discrimination and sexual exploitation in sports: Justuce Sikri

There have been several cases of gender discrimination and sexual exploitation in sports, which needed to be resolved immediately and mediation was needed for it, former Supreme Court Judge A K Sikri said on Tuesday.

The judge, who said that online disputes resolution (ODR) has been seen as the next step in Indian legal system in litigation, arbitration and mediation during the pandemic-induced lockdown and restrictions, was also of the view that commercialisation of sports has given rise to various kinds of disputes and mediation was one such process which facilitated level playing field.

Justice Sikri, who is acting as a judge of Singapore International Commercial Court, spoke on the “Scope of mediation in sports disputes” at an international webinar organised by mediators of the Supreme Court of India, Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Sports Dispute Resolution Centre and the Youth Bar Association of India.

He said neither the courts, that is litigation, nor arbitration that can deal with it effectively and mediation was needed for that.

While speaking about cases of gender discrimination and sexual exploitation in sports, Justice Sikri said “There are many such cases where the coach has tried to indulge in such practices and several complaints have come up against them. What is more important is that these issues need to be resolved immediately. They cannot wait even for a few days sometimes.

“That is why many sports committees have ad hoc judges or arbitrators in the events. We need on the spot resolution. It is neither the courts, that is litigation, neither arbitration that can deal with it effectively. We need mediation for that,” the judge said.

He said that time has come, as far as India was concerned, to have specialised mediation, including sports mediation, and the country should now gear up and start thinking as to how we can do mediation.

“COVID-19 situation in the country has given us a chance to look into mediation. Of course it is a pandemic which has created panic all over the world, many have died, livelihoods and lifestyle have been affected. In the whole process we have realised that technology can play an important role. “And now ODR (Online Disputes Resolution) is seen as the next step even in Indian legal system, whether litigation or arbitration or mediation. And according to me, some of the cases which are proper for online mediation, apart from consumer disputes, are sports disputes,” the judge said.

He further said what was felt now and being highlighted was that it was not necessary to go to courts and there should be self regulation and mediation plays an important role in the process.

He said there cannot be a society without conflicts but what was needed was an early and peaceful mediation of those conflicts.

“Mediation is one such process which goes into the reason why disputes have arisen. It not only looks into the past, it looks into the future also so that relationship between the parties is maintained.

“Discussions are always better than arguments because arguments are to find out who is right and a discussion is to find out what is right. It is only the mediation which brings about this.It heals the past, lives in the present and dreams the future,” the judge added.

Justice Sikri said that mediation has come a long way in the last 15 years and it was here to stay as the legal system is enlarging its scope.

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