‘Courts interfering a little too much in arbitration process’

There is a need to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, to change the present perception that India is “not an arbitration-friendly nation”, said Supreme Court judge S.S. Nijjar here on Saturday.

Speaking at the international conference on “ADR – Conciliation and Mediation” organised by the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR), Mr. Nijjar said that the country’s judicial system must encourage institutional arbitration while pointing out that the country’s courts were interfering “a little too much in the arbitration process.”

Fix deadline

He said that courts could play a vital role within the present provisions in the Act by fixing a shorter deadline for completion of the arbitration process by fixing a fee so as to prevent any unnecessary delay.

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, who is also the Chairperson, ICADR, urged the Bench and the bar to resort to innovative methods in resolving disputes and dispensing justice through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. He called upon the legal fraternity to adopt “Gandhian methods” to resolve disputes instead of “majestic methods” which are highly procedural and cumbersome.

Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka D.H. Waghela said creative solutions could be offered to a dispute through ADR methods. “It is time to wean people away from regular legal system by offering non-conventional solutions, including private institutions,” he said while pointing out that High Court’s newly set up international arbitration centre has got 49 cases for arbitration in the last six months and two of them have been resolved.

Build superstructure

Karnataka High Court judge and Executive Chairperson of the ICADR’s Bangalore Regional Centre N. Kumar said that it is now time to build a “superstructure” on the foundation of arbitration built in the country in the past decade so that more people voluntarily approach ADR methods instead of the regular courts.

Pointing out that the country is witnessing demand for international and domestic arbitrations, he emphasised the need for the “change in mindset” among judges, lawyers and litigants on ARD methods.

Chief Justice of the Punjab S.K. Kaul said that arbitration should not be a part-time job.

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