New Delhi: One of the government’s top priorities is to develop an institutional arbitration ecosystem in order to enhance the ease of doing business in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
The government has consistently tried to make doing business in India easier. Towards this, the government introduced amendments to the arbitration law, passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and a commercial courts bill and notified the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)—all measures aimed at ensuring faster disposal of cases.
Speaking at the concluding session of a conference on ‘National Initiative towards Strengthening Arbitration and Enforcement in India,’ Modi said improving alternative dispute resolution mechanisms would add to the comfort of investors and businesses and ease the case load on courts.
“Creation of a vibrant ecosystem for institutional arbitration is one of the foremost priorities of our government," Modi said, adding that the 2015 amendments to the arbitration law ensured India’s laws were at par with global best practices.
“An enabling alternate dispute resolution ecosystem is a national priority for India. We need to promote India globally as an arbitration hub," he said.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also called for “resolve in India"—a push to bring arbitrations into the country rather than go abroad.
Recently, the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration was opened as the first commercial arbitration institution. The Delhi centre is on the way to becoming functional.
Modi also called for specialization among lawyers in arbitration practice. This was also emphasized by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who also spoke at the valedictory session.
With regard to specialized training, Thakur stressed the need for domain experts to be made arbitrators. A few apex court and high court judges would not be sufficient to tackle the large load of arbitration cases, he added.
Thakur also suggested changes in the statutory framework of the arbitration law to enable a better legal framework to ensure that parties who won favourable arbitral awards could get them enforced.
Rohatgi spoke of a mindset change needed when judges hear arbitration cases—to not treat them as regular civil suits or appeals. Thakur asked judges to trust the arbitration process.
“We need to sensitise courts about the need to show deference towards arbitral awards subject to the grounds on which such awards can be challenged," he said.
The three-day conference was organized by NITI Aayog, the law ministry, the department for industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), the National Legal Services Authority, and the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Kritika Singh contributed to this story.