Source: Business Standard, Oct 24, 2016
New Delhi: Prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday batted for making India a global hub for arbitration, highlighting the need to develop cost-effective and time-bound processes in this regard.
Addressing a conference on the National Initiative Towards Strengthening Arbitration and Enforcement in India, organised by Niti Aayog, Modi said efforts to make India a preferred destination for global arbitration faced challenges in the form of availability of excellent global arbitrators, professional conduct, enforcing neutrality, timely completion of proceedings, and cost effective arbitration process.
He said India has no dearth of brilliant lawyers and judges and also has a large number of retired judges, engineers and scientists who can function as competent arbitrators in various disputes.However, this in turn would require widening the ambit of legal education in India, he said. “There is need to develop specialised arbiration, bar associations also need to be professionally involved,” he said.
Enabling an alternative dispute resolution eco system is a national priority for India, PM Modi said, adding,”We need to promote India as a global arbitration hub.”Modi highlighted legal reforms undertaken by his government including scrapping of over 1,000 archaic laws, enacting the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (Amendment) Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Code.
“This has given us an opportunity to emerge as a leading arbitration jurisdiction,” he said.
Under the amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, an arbitrator will have to settle a case within 18 months. After the completion of 12 months, certain restrictions will be put in place to ensure that the arbitration case does not linger on.
Here chief justice T S Thakur raised a relevant question. He said even if a dispute is settled by an arbitration panel within a year, a losing party can always approach courts where the case may linger on.
The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act enables transfer of all pending suits and applications relating to commercial disputes involving a claim of Rs. 1 crore and above in high courts and civil courts to the relevant commercial division of courts.
Commercial Divisions are to be set up in those high courts which are already exercising ordinary original civil jurisdiction such as Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Himachal Pradesh high court.