Attorney General for India KK Venugopal today said that India lacked institutions for international arbitration and there was a need to fix the gap.
“It is very surprising that we have not been able to attain our just and due place in international arbitration,” Venugopal said while speaking at the 10th Annual International Conference of the Nani Palkhivala Arbitration Centre. That, he said, was despite arbitration being an ancient concept in India.
“It is a very serious matter and we will have to think about it because there is no single institutional arbitration system which is in existence,” Venugopal said.
Our own government cases—the government is the party to the largest number of international arbitration disputes—have to go to Singapore.Attorney General KK Venugopal
Unfortunately, India has no institution that can come anywhere near the efficiency and competency of the London Court of International Arbitration and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, he said.
Efforts made to address this issue. Venugopal was the founding member of the International Centre for Alternate Dispute Resolution. “We made a serious attempt 20 years back, with the Government of India spending Rs 70-80 crore to set up International Centre for Alternate Dispute Resolution. But this last 20 years, it did not progress at all. It did not have any international arbitration of significance.”
Venugopal said former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur last year decided that “enough is enough”. “Infrastructure was there but the arbitrators were missing. He took over as the chairman of the governing council, but, unfortunately, after he demitted office, no progress has been made.”
The Attorney General said there has been some progress after the 2015 amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act that brought India in line with the best practices of the world. Yet, the backlog of cases in courts makes judges unable to deal with arbitration cases by a separate bench, and that is unsatisfactory, he said.