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Amendment to Arbitration and Conciliation Act & legislation on establishing commercial benches in HCs in Budget Session

Capital Market 

& Justice Minister, D.V. Sadananda Gowda

With a view to revamp the entire judicial system and make India an attractive destination for investment, the government will shortly bring out necessary amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act together with legislation on establishment of commercial benches in high courts and a draft national litigation policy, union minister for and justice, Mr D.V. Sadananda Gowda said at an ASSOCHAM event.

Already the cabinet has also given a clear nod for this especially three important areas where some stringent steps and measures are being taken like time-bound disposal, fee structure all these things are covered in it and I hope that in the budget session we will be able to pass this arbitration act, said Mr Gowda while inaugurating a national conference on 'Strengthening economy through judicial reforms,' organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Practically we had a detailed discussion as far as the establishment of commercial benches in the high courts in the cabinet also and the Prime Minister has already directed me to bring out this legislation at the earliest, I am trying to place this bill in the coming session, said Mr Gowda.

He further said that some of the measures being undertaken on priority basis for ensuring timely and effective enforcement of commercial contracts involve exploring the possibilities of setting up specialised fast track courts, tribunals at the subordinate level and specialised commercial divisions at the high court level to deal with the commercial cases and encouraging arbitration to resolve contractual disputes.

Arbitration and Conciliation Act Amendment, establishment of commercial benches in high courts and amendment to the negotiable instrument act are the prime concerns of the department and we will take up these issues as early as possible, added the minister.

Already a draft national litigation policy is before me, only thing is to take it before the Cabinet and take their approval and I hope that within a fortnight I will be able to take this matter and the national litigation policy will bring several reforms in judicial system, further said Mr Gowda.

With regards to the amendment to the section 138 of the negotiable instrument act, the minister further said that a proposal to amend the negotiable instrument act to introduce measures to resolve the cases arising under section 138 through ADR mechanism is currently under consideration.

He also said that the government is examining several valuable suggestions contained in the 253rd report on commercial division and commercial appellate division of high courts and commercial courts submitted by the Law Commission of India containing their recommendations on speedy disposal of high-value commercial suits.

Talking about various other initiatives being taken as part of judicial reforms, he said that the government has started to process the repeal of 36 original acts, 750 amending acts and about 900 appropriation bills to clean up the statute book.

Already two bills are moved before the Parliament and have been referred to the Standing Committee and I hope that before the next session Standing Committee report will come and we will take up this matter, said Mr Gowda.

He also said that there is a need to provide real time access to judicial data grid, while ensuring the availability of such real time justice statistics at the earliest possible will go a long way in enhancing transparency and accountability in our judicial legal system, it will also encourage more insightful research and studies on various issues relating to judicial administration.

Adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) in the administration of justice is another important area and this will help pave the way for revamping court process, adopting court and case management systems and overall process of re-engineering of judicial system, said Mr Gowda.

There is a need to develop an appropriate institutional framework so that more and more disputes may be resolved using alternative dispute resolution mechanism and this involves setting up of adequate number of ADR centres, providing training to mediators and arbitrators and creating awareness about ADR process, as this will help in reducing the burden of courts while at the same time providing parties with timely settlement of disputes, said the minister.

Inadequacy of judicial manpower, non-implementation of existing provisions aimed at the expeditious disposal of cases, indiscriminate use of jurisdiction, need for bar reforms, national and state litigation policies are some of the areas of concern that need to be taken up urgently, he said.

Providing a fair, transparent and efficient dispute resolution mechanism based on a clear legal framework is key to encouraging investment of capital thereby stimulating growth and development, said Mr Gowda.

If we desire to be recognized as a destination of choice for trade and commerce, it is imperative for us to focus on building an effective judicial system as an integral part of our economic reforms, he added. Accelerated justice will free off billions of dollars blocked in litigation against projects in several parts of the country and enable it to be put in productive use.

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First Published: Tue, February 10 2015. 18:17 IST