New Delhi–While India has the basic legal and physical infrastructure to support international arbitrations, it only needs basic institutional reforms to strengthen its arbitration framework, President Pranab Mukherjee observed here on Friday.

While inaugurating a three-day global conference on “National Initiative Towards Strengthening Arbitration and Enforcement in India”, Mukherjee said that arbitral institutions needed to partner with the Indian legal profession to expand their footprint.

Pranab Mukherjee
Pranab Mukherjee

“Arbitral institutions need to proactively nurture and expand the pool of arbitrators to include subject matter expertise in sectors like infrastructure, energy and finance. This will in the long run help build confidence in the arbitration ecosystem of India,” said the President.

He also said that Indian courts need to devise an administrative mechanism to ensure that arbitration matters are handled separately and efficiently, so as to avoid any delay arising out of judicial intervention.

Speaking earlier, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur called for a modern and state-of-the-art arbitration regime to bolster India’s foreign investment future.

“Promoting institutional arbitration will help India emerge as a preferred destination for arbitral adjudication. Studies show that foreign investors consider India as a preferred foreign portfolio investment amongst the emerging markets,” the Chief Justice said.

“Investment future looks promising provided we are ready to deliver dispute resolution to the satisfaction of the foreign investing partners,” he added.

He also said that the perception of Indian courts interfering with arbitral awards is fast changing.

Speaking at the event, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley 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 that India cannot become an important arbitration centre in the world.

“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 mechanisms in India,” Jaitley said.

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