The High Level Committee to Review the Institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India under the Chairmanship of Justice B.N.Srikrishna, (HLC-IA) was constituted with the specific objective of examining the roadblocks to the development of institutional arbitration and prepare a roadmap for making India a “Robust center for International and Domestic Arbitration”.
The Committee has now produced its report and contains several suggestions. Given the reputation of Justice B.N.Srikrishna, the recommendations would be given due consideration and implemented in due course.
The Committee’s recommendations and the follow up actions by the Government have the potential to bring significant changes to our society and it is essential for Citizens and Professionals in the related areas to ensure that the Government’s future actions in this regard do not get derailed from the central objective of “Freedom from inefficiency in Dispute Resolution System in India”.
We therefore raise certain issues for debate through these columns with the hope that the Government would take note of some positive suggestions that may arise out of this debate.
I invite public to join this debate and add their views to make the debate useful.
The principal recommendations of the committee consist of
- Grading of Arbitral Institutions through Arbitration Promotion Council of India (APCI)
- Accreditation of Arbitrators through APCI
- Creation of specialist arbitration bar and bench
- Legislative support for institutional arbitration
- Amendments to Arbitration and Conciliation Act to remove some ambiguities
- Setting up of the International Center for Alternate Dispute Resolution (ICADR)
- Some Recommendations on the Management and Resolution of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)
- Creation of the post of an “International Law Adviser”
- Permission to Foreign Lawyers to represent clients in International arbitrations held in India
- Separate legislation governing Mediation
We shall discuss these Ten Major recommendations individually to take on record what the committee has suggested and also to point out further changes that may be considered.
Naavi has been in the forefront of creating awareness about the benefits of Alternate Dispute Resolution as a necessary development in India and has highlighted the need for making India the International Hub for Arbitration, Establishing a Cyber Disputes Mediation and Arbitration Center, An International Arbitration Council for IT industry, Taking the global lead in ODR infrastructure etc. These have been discussed over a period of time under naavi.org and ADR Knowledge Center. (http://adr.ind.in/wp/).
It is therefore natural that we observe that the HLC-IA while providing some very essential recommendations has also failed to recognize some aspects that required to have been part of the considerations of the Committee.
It is our duty to make bring this to the notice of the public so that at least at the time of implementation of the suggestions, these issues will be given a due consideration.
The Committee set about with a given terms of reference which was to focus on the “Arbitral Institutions” and therefore it was constrained in its approach. The more important focus should be how to liberate the Indian Citizens from the inefficiencies of the dispute resolution mechanism in India led by the Judicial system where “Delays” are more the norm than the exceptions. Delay in Justice delivery encourages extra constitutional settlement of disputes and raise of corruption and violence in the society.
Hence improvement in the system of “Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism” should be our focus and not restricted to improvement in the system of “Institutional Arbitration”. We find this the major lacuna in the setting of the agenda of this Committee and the final outcome.
We shall elaborate on this in subsequent articles.
I request the Government and the Members of the committee to look at the views presented here in a series of articles as positive suggestions and not as criticisms.