The Arbitration & Conciliation ordinance was promulgated on 23 October 2015 ("Ordinance"). The Ordinance needs to be approved by the legislature in the winter session of the Parliament or else it will lapse and will have to be promulgated once again. The Government therefore introduced the Arbitration & Conciliation Bill 2015 before the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, on 3 November 2015. The Bill if passed will replace the Ordinance, which is currently in force.
The introduction of the Bill in the Lok Sabha by the Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda was not without incident. Mr Saugata Ray, a Member of Parliament from the Trinamool Congress opposed its introduction saying certain clauses relating to the jurisdiction of the courts in helping settle commercial disputes will create "two classes" in the country. He did not elaborate on this comment, but a detailed discussion can be expected when as the Bill progresses.
Other objections were also raised, principally that the Bill grants jurisdiction to High Courts having original jurisdiction to hear cases relating to the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, whereas the High Courts in most states do not have this original jurisdiction.
The law minister in response has assured members that all objections will be considered at the time of debate and passage of the Bill.
However, debate and the passage of the Bill in the lower house may be delayed as the Law Minister sought the Speaker's permission to defer the Bill as the Government may wish to make additional amendments to it – it is reported that certain proposed changes had not been signed off by the Prime Minister.
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