Arbitration has long been a crucial aspect of the Indian business landscape, playing a vital role in resolving commercial disputes in a quick and cost-effective manner. In recent years, the Indian government has made a concerted effort to streamline the arbitration process, making it more efficient and reducing the need for judicial intervention.
The key amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, made in 2015, 2018, and 2021, have helped to cure various lacunae, clarify the narrow scope of review of arbitral awards, and provide recourse to Indian courts for interim relief in foreign-seated arbitrations. The government’s pro-arbitration stance is evident not just through the amendments to the Arbitration Act but also through the introduction of the Mediation Bill, 2021, as a standalone law on mediation.
To further improve the ease of doing business in India, the government has introduced several measures aimed at promoting infrastructure development, including the 2018 amendments to the Specific Relief Act to ensure that infrastructure contracts are specifically enforced, with minimal judicial intervention. Additionally, the Budget 2022 proposed the establishment of a world-standard international arbitration centre in the Gujarat International Finance Tech City (GIFT City), which will provide investor comfort in the enforcement of contracts and further enhance the ease of doing business. The Gujarat International Maritime Arbitration Centre has also been established in GIFT City to manage arbitration in disputes related to the maritime and shipping sector.
The Indian judiciary has also been making great strides in modernizing and streamlining its processes, with the e-Court Project winning the Digital India Award, 2022, e-Governance Award 2022, and National \ Award for Institutions Engaged in Empowering Persons with Disabilities. The judiciary has embraced the digital revolution, with e-filing systems becoming the norm in several courts and tribunals.
In conclusion, the Indian government’s pro-business approach, its focus on infrastructure development, and its efforts to modernize and streamline the arbitration process and the judicial system have made India an exciting prospect for investors. The government’s continued investment in the development of the country, along with the commitment to the ease of doing business, will only further increase the importance of arbitration in India.