New Delhi, December 2
Retired judges have kept the country’s arbitral system in a “tight-fist grip”, denying a chance to other qualified minds, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Saturday.
Addressing an event of the International Court of Arbitration here, Dhankhar said, “Nowhere on the planet, in no other country, in no other system there is such a tight-fist grip on the arbitral system by retired judges. In our country, this is at large.”
“The time has come when people need to introspect and move forward by bringing about necessary changes, including, if required, by legislation,” he said.
The Vice-President’s comments came months after Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said promising candidates were often overlooked in favour of more established names and that arbitration space in India must shed the tag of being an old boys’ club by providing equal opportunity to men, women and them.
Dhankhar applauded CJI’s “bold” and “timely” statement highlighting the lack of diversity in appointing arbitrators, saying it will go a long way in making the arbitral process spinally strong.
Noting that India is known for its human resources, he said, “In every domain, in every walk of life, we have people who can take a look at it. But they are not built up to adjudicate an arbitrary process.”
Describing institutional arbitration as being better than ad hoc mechanisms for it provided a sound system for arriving at conclusions, Dhankhar said there was a need to evolve a mechanism where the arbitral process did not suffer from judicial interventions.
He said while approaching for relief is a remedy prescribed in law, amicable dispute resolution in arbitration proceedings could mean lesser parties approaching courts for intervention.
The Vice-President said when disputes last long, the legal fraternity benefits. “But our fiscal gain cannot be at the cost of national gain, national prosperity ... economy will gallop ... when the dispute resolution mechanism is fair, equitable and conclusive,” he noted.
Maintaining that disputes were natural to arise in commercial activity, he said, “We, therefore, are in need of having a system that is robust, fast, scientific, effective and delivers with the best of human brains.”
There has been some growth of arbitrary institutions in India, but those institutions needed to take central space and necessary changes in law were required to be introduced to make them meaningful, Dhankhar said.
“This will cleanse the system of which we do not regard as wholesome because this cannot be a pastime. It has to be a deep professional commitment,” he said.
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