London: Government plans to usher in second generation legal reforms that would eliminate litigation delays sharply in India.
It would also like to put in place a legal regulatory regime and an oversight mechanism for the smooth functioning of the judiciary without infringing on the independence of the institution.
“In the first stage, with a view to fast tracking the delivery of justice and creating centres of excellence, we established National Law Schools.
“Now in the second stage, we would like to introduce the second generation legal reforms. At present litigation in India involves delay of over 15 years. The Government would like to reduce this delay to less than 3 years,” law minister Veerappa Moily told journalists.
He said the government would also take measures to improve the quality of the judiciary by reforming the legal education system and making the country the most preferred destination for investors by setting up international arbitration courts with a mandate to dispose off any litigation within a year.
Moily said the Commercial Court Bill would soon become a law, paving the way for speedy disposal of cases through arbitration. Lok Sabha has passed the Bill and it will go before the Rajya Sabha now.
The minister said the amendment of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act would remove the distractions and make the legislation more vibrant.
“The Government of India would like to improve quality of the judiciary through reforming the legal education. We need to make India the most preferred destination of investment,” Moily said.
Moily, a former chief minister of Karnataka and chairman of the second administrative reforms commission, said: “any investment above Rs5 crore will be decided in commercial courts within a year.”
He said that the Indian government’s first priority is to reform the legal education and upgrade the course contents in the 933 law colleges across the country.
“There are more than one million lawyers in India. We intend to restructure the faculty of our law colleges and make them world class. The second priority for the Government is to strengthen and widen the centres of excellences and establish more National Law Schools, at least one each in each of the 28 States,” he said.
Moily, who is visiting the UK at the invitation of the British secretary of state for Justice Kenneth Clarke, said he had very warm, cordial and fruitful meeting with Clarke and he was quite happy with his visit.
He said Clarke reiterated the resolve of the coalition government to develop a special relationship with India and build closer ties in all spheres including the judiciary.
Expressing his admiration for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Clarke acknowledged India’s “powerful regard for the rule of law” and spoke of the challenges the Indian judicial system faces.
Moily also had meetings with the Lord Chief Justice and the Attorney General.
The minister also met Chairman of the Legal Services Board David Edmonds and Chair of the Judicial Appointments Committee Baroness Usha Prashar.
He had a Round Table discussions with the Bar Council of UK, Law Society of UK, Society of Asian Lawyers and the London Court of International Arbitration which he described as “constructive and purposeful.”
Moily also interacted with several UK law firms and the UK India Business Council, visited the Supreme Court of UK to witness the proceedings and attended a reception at the House of Commons.
Emphasising that India has evolved a National Litigation Policy, Moily said Government at the Centre and States are the biggest litigants and efforts were on to settle them at the earliest.
In rural areas, the Gram Nyayalaya including Mobile Courts have been set up and the Gram Nyayala would dispose off cases within six months. In the next five years, there will be 5,000 Gram Nyayalayas (village courts), he said.
On the question of opening up the Legal system to foreign legal firms, he said, the issue is being discussed with the Bar council of India.
“There is slight change in their perception,” he said.
Answering a question on the issue of the Bhopal gas tragedy, he said “in future it will not be repeated”.
Replying to a question he said: “Government of India is also enthusiastic about having a special relationship with Britain in several spheres.”