India can become important arbitration centre: Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said that being the world’s fastest growing economy with an independent and powerful judiciary, right laws in place and sufficient infrastructure, there is no reason why India cannot become an important arbitration centre in the world.

Jaitley’s observation came at the inaugural session here on Friday of a three-day international conference on national initiative towards strengthening arbitration and enforcement in India.

“As an economy which is attracting investment, as the world’s fastest growing economy, disputes in relation to that economy should take place in India. Since India has an independent and powerful judiciary, there is no reason we can’t have a robust and independent arbitral mechanism in India,” Jaitley said.

He said some of the recent pronouncements of the Indian courts related to business disputes “are testimony to the fact that our judicial and quasi-judicial system has shown maturity that can go a long way” in making India an important arbitration centre.

Defending the provision in the Indian arbitration law of seeking a court’s permission for extending an arbitration beyond a point, Jaitley said that it is not intended for making judicial intervention but for ensuring faster disposal of cases.

“I agree that we need to recognise the principle that arbitration being a domestic dispute redressal forum, chosen by the contracting parties, the contract should be respected and therefore the judicial intervention should either be minimum or virtually non-existent.”

“But if the case is unduly delayed beyond the prescribed time, the object of putting the provision for a court’s permission is not really intended to promote judicial intervention in arbitration,” he said.

“On the contrary it is to ensure expeditious disposal of the arbitration that people are dissuaded from facing the embarrassment of repeatedly going to court and asking for extension to complete the arbitration.”

Jaitley said that India has attracted high investment into its economy and therefore, it is extremely important both for the ease of doing business and to retain investors’ confidence that the country has “a robust mechanism for expeditious disposal of any disputes that arises”.