Justice Dispensing System in India has come under great stress for various reasons including huge pendency of cases in various courts. The injustice is particularly egregious in commercial disputes, where cases remain pending for years. Accordingly, arbitration provides an effective and efficient alternative window for dispute resolution.
The Government of India has laid emphasis on making Arbitration a preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes. We have been taking legislative and administrative initiatives on arbitration which aim at minimizing court intervention, bring down costs, fix timelines for expeditious disposal, and ensure neutrality of arbitrator and enforcement of awards. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 envisages quick enforcement of contracts, easy recovery of monetary claims, reduce the pendency of cases in courts and hasten the process of dispute resolution through arbitration, so as to encourage foreign investment by projecting India as an investor friendly country having a sound legal framework and ease of doing business in India.
In order to ensure speedy resolution of commercial disputes and to facilitate effective conduct of international and domestic arbitrations raised under various agreements, it has been considered necessary to go into various factors to accelerate arbitration mechanism and strengthen the arbitration ecosystem in the country. It is also important to examine specific issues and roadmap required to make India a robust centre for international and domestic arbitration.
With the above end in view, the Government has decided to constitute a High-Level Committee (HLC) in the Ministry of Law and Justice, comprising of the following:
- Mr. Justice B N Srikrishna, Retired Judge, Supreme Court - Chairman
- Mr. Justice R. V. Raveendran, Retired Judge, Supreme Court - Member
- Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, Judge, Delhi High Court - Member
- Shri K.K. Venugopal, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court
- Sh. P.S. Narasimha, Addl Solicitor General of India - Member
- Ms. Indu Malhotra, Senior Counsel, Supreme Court - Member
- Mr. Araghya Sengupta, Director, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy - Member
- Representative of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) - Member
- Representative of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) - Member
- Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs - Member Secretary
The terms of reference for the High Level Committee are as under:
(i) To analyze & review effectiveness of present arbitration mechanism.
(ii) To review the facilities, resources, funding and manpower of existing ADR institutions.
(iii) To review working of the institutions funded by the Government of India for arbitration purposes.
(iv) To assess skill gaps in ADR and allied institutions for both national and international arbitration.
(v) To evaluate information outreach and efficacy of existing legal framework for arbitration.
(vi) Based on the foregoing, to
- Suggest measures for institutionalization of arbitration mechanism, national and international, in India so as to make the country a hub of international commercial arbitration.
- Identify amendments in other laws that are needed to encourage International Commercial Arbitration (ICA).
- Devise an action plan for implementation of the law to ensure speedier arbitrations.
- Recommend revision in institutional rules & regulations and funding support thereof.
- Advise empanelment of national and international arbitrators for time bound arbitral proceedings.
- Suggest road map for further strengthening of research and development impacting the domain.
- Enlist requisite steps for augmenting skill sets and professional manpower buildup for the sector.
- Recommend measures to make arbitration more widely available in curricula and study materials.
- Focus on the role of arbitrations in matters involving the Union of India, including bilateral investment treaties (BIT) arbitrations and make recommendations where necessary.
- Evolving an efficient arbitration ecosystem for expeditious resolution of International and Domestic Commercial disputes.
The Committee shall submit its report within a period of 90 (ninety) days.