October 2019
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Lok Sabha passes arbitration bill
New Delhi: A Bill to set up an independent and autonomous regime for institutionalised domestic and international arbitration was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill, 2019, seeks to replace an ordinance issued in March this year by the previous government.

It provides for setting up of an independent and autonomous body for institutional arbitration.

Besides, it would acquire and transfer undertakings of the International Centre For Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) to the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) with effect from March 2 this year.

Replying to debate on the Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said the existing arbitration body has resolved 45 cases out of 55 in 25 years.

He said that 10 cases are still pending.

Making a remark on long pendency of cases, Prasad, without naming anyone, quipped "if a law minister makes it (ICADR) a private property, then what will happen."

Observing that there is a new kind of imperialism taking place, Prasad said, there is hardly any instance where arbitration judgment has gone against American companies.

"This kind of new imperialism is not accepted," he added.

Exuding confidence in turning India into a global centre of excellence, he said, the success of this institution would depend on what kind of arbitrators one has and the transperancy that is maintained.

The proposed New Delhi International Arbitration Centre will be headed by a chairperson, who has been a judge of the Supreme Court or a judge of a high court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in this field.

There is also a provision for appeal and Section 29 deals with the time frame in which the arbitration cases is disposed, he said, adding it had to be disposed within a year.

Explaining the rationale for Ordinance, Prasad said it was to give an impression to the world that the government is firm on arbitration mechanism.

Participating in the debate, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he is supporting the ordinance because intent of this legislation is commendable but appears ambitious in terms of execution.

Chowdhury also said the government should conceptualise the National Arbritation Policy and strengthen the Indian judicial system.

The Congress MP said he is also eager to see India as an attractive destination of international arbitration.

Meenakshi Lekhi(BJP) said in commercial litigation, a lot of business is going to Singapore, London and Hong Komg.

"Even Indian litigants are choosing Singapore, Hong Kong and London over Delhi for commercial disputes. They are taking away our business," Lekhi said.

Others who participated in debate included Saugata Roy (TMC), Pinaki Misra (BJD), Shashi Tharoor (Cong) and N K Premchandram (RSP).

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