Arbitration must be autonomous, free from govt control, says senior lawyer

New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) India has a long way to go to become a hub of arbitration and to do so it must be autonomous and free from government control, senior advocate Arvind Datar said on Thursday.

The senior lawyer, who has appeared in various high-profile cases in the Supreme Court, including the SEBI-Sahara, NJAC and Aadhaar matters, said the present law makes arbitration subject to government regulations which is completely contrary to international practice.

Talking to PTI about the present status of arbitration in the country, he said the recent amendments made to the Arbitration and Constitution Act have helped in improving the efficiency of domestic arbitration, but a lot more needs to be done if India wants to compete with Singapore and London as a preferred destination for international arbitration.

'More proactive steps are necessary to make India the hub of international arbitration. Effort should be made to adopt and benchmark the steps taken by Singapore, London and Dubai to make arbitration completely autonomous and free from government control,' Datar said.

He added that the enforcement mechanism for recovery after an award is passed has to be strengthened since there is still substantial delay in enforcing an award in the country.

'New amendments have come and they require an arbitration council, which is yet to be appointed. The Act has put various restrictions on who can be an arbitrator. If we want to be an international hub, we cannot operate with this mindset,' Datar said.

On foreign lawyers coming to India for arbitration, he said there is a great deal of uncertainty due to the limitations in the current law.

'India urgently needs to make changes to the Advocate Act, and the most important step is to make institutional arbitration a reality, and public sector undertakings - who have a large number of arbitration - must set an example,' he said. PTI UK PKS RDM RDM