Bill to make India arbitration hub get Parliamentary nod

A Bill seeking to make India a hub of arbitration for settling commercial disputes in a shorter period of time was passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday by voice vote.

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, moved by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for passage, seeks to set up the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) for creating an independent and autonomous regime for institutionalized arbitration.

The Bill was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on July 18.

Members of main opposition Congress and other political parties supported the Bill. The opposition also gave various suggestions.

Putting the government's arguments for the Bill, the Law Minister said the Bill seeks to amend section 11 of the Act relating to "Appointment of Arbitrators" so as to change the present system of appointment of arbitrators by the Supreme Court or the High Court, to a system where the arbitrators shall be appointed by the "arbitral institutions" designated by the Supreme Court or the High Court.

The government's move to amend the earlier law on the alternative dispute resolution mechanism is aimed at making India a major arbitration centre in the world on the lines of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) among others.

The draft legislation provides for establishing an independent body to lay down standards for timely and cost-effective disposal of cases and eventually improving ease-of-doing business. The proposed law provides for setting up of an independent Arbitration Council of India (ACI) to frame arbitral institutions and grade arbitrators.

The Chairperson of ACI will be appointed by the government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Its other members would include eminent persons and government nominees.

In case where no graded arbitral institutions are available, the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned may maintain a panel of arbitrators for discharging the functions and duties of arbitral institutions.
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