Friday 2 August 2019 7:37 AM UTC
New Delhi Aug 2: Parliament on Thursday passed a bill aimed at making India an international arbitration hub by providing facilities for settlement of commercial disputes.
The bill has already been cleared by the Rajya Sabha.
The government had planned some amendments in the Lok Sabha on Thursday related to the proposed arbitration council, but Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad decided against pressing them as the bill has given sufficient powers to the arbitration council to decide on arbitrators.
Had the government pressed for the amendments, the bill would have gone back to the Rajya Sabha.
“The bill will not go back to Rajya Sabha as I did not press for amendments,” Mr Prasad told PTI after the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha.
Replying to a debate on The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2019, Mr Prasad said India is qualified to have a centre of international arbitration as it has enough qualified lawyers and skill and training facilities.
Mr Prasad said Indians and Indian companies involved in international arbitration have to move to centres like London, Singapore or Paris.
“We want India to become a hub of international arbitration,” he said.
The minister said while the government is trying to make arbitration easier and fast in India, the courts should also be consistent with their pronouncements on arbitrations.
Participating in the debate, Congress member K Suresh said the bill has failed to address several crucial factors, including criteria and eligibility of arbitrators.
He said the arbitration process should be impartial and unbiased as a single omission will damage the reputation of the country.
BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi said currently an imperialistic environment is prevalent in international arbitration.
She said India is the originator of the conciliatory process as the word ”panchayat” means five elders who decide on any dispute.
Ms Lekhi said India is the founder of conciliations and arbitrations but over time the country lost out its position to other countries.
“This is a right step to improve that process,” she said.
DMK member A Raja said the intention of the government in bringing the bill is good, the objectives are good, but there are several doubts and apprehensions.
Mr Raja said the role of judiciary has been mitigated in the arbitration process and there is no provision for creating an exclusive set of manpower.
Trinamool Congress lawmaker Kalyan Banerjee said he has no reason to disagree with the bill but will like to provide suggestions on certain issues.
Mr Banerjee said every arbitrator should be treated as public servant to bring accountability and they should declare their assets.
A previous bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha in August 2018 but could not be passed by the Rajya Sabha. The bill lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Successive governments have been pushing to make India a centre of domestic and international arbitration.
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