Substitution of Arbitrator
Since the commencement of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, (hereinafter referred as “Act”) the first issue in practice of the same was with regard to the time limit to conclude the arbitration proceeding and pass an award as The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 did not contain any provision which talked about time period to conclude the arbitration proceeding.
The insertion of section 29A by The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 (3 of 2016) (w.r.e.f. 23-10-2015), the Act has introduced new law dealing with its primary objective to prescribe time limit to conclude the arbitral proceeding and pass an award within a period of 12 months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference. However, despite this there is a question of its feasibility in order to achieve expedite, fair and just disposal of the dispute referred under arbitration act.
The foremost purpose behind the incorporation of section 29A in the act is to set a timeline for adjudication of a dispute referred to an arbitral tribunal by the aggrieved party. Thus, section 29A plays a vital role in order to achieve the goal of timely disposal of the dispute and also ensures the pronouncement of award without delay.
The section 29A lays down following features:
Time Limit: The time period to make an award shall be 12 months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference.
Extension of the said period: The parties may, by mutual consent, are at liberty to extend the said period for further period not exceeding six months3.
Termination of Arbitral Proceedings: The arbitral tribunal is duty bound to terminate the arbitration proceeding if the award is not made despite the extension of the period.
Permission to extend the time period for arbitral Proceedings only through the Court of Law: Unless the court has, either prior to or after the expiry of the period, extended the period4 which would be subject to terms and conditions as may be imposed by the court while extending the period.
Substitution of Arbitrator in Special Circumstances: The court shall have ample power to substitute the arbitrator/s while extending the period, though the arbitral proceedings shall continue form the stage already reached and the arbitrator so appointed shall be deemed to have received the said evidence and material filed before the earlier arbitrator.
Pros and Cons of Section 29A of the Act:
The amendment in the act has given rise to its advantage and disadvantages:
Timely Disposal: As the act has introduced timeframe for adjudication, the tribunal has the responsibility to dispose of the dispute referred within the prescribed time limit and bring the matter to an end which plays a motivated and remarkable role and thus time limit is the beauty of the section.
Increased court interference: The basic objective of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is to minimise the supervisory role of the courts in the arbitral process however, the insertion of section 29A after amendment is violating the objective as the section so inserted seeks frequent intervention of the courts.
Promotes multiplicity of Litigation: Frequent intervention of the court in arbitral process leads to multiplicity of litigation and so commenced litigation deceives the basic and foremost objective of the act i.e. to minimise the litigation. In Indian scenario the pendency of cases is one of the major challenging tasks and such pendency in courts always effects efficiency of the court working. One unreasonable decision results into another litigation and thus, a simple litigation transforms into a never ending bubble.
Law is always dynamic, timely improvement is the key of progress. Addition of section 29(A) in the act has the variety of positive possibilities in terms of achieving fair and just results. Ensuring the faith of the litigants is enlightened up by having supervision of the court over the arbitral process and thus, the Arbitral Tribunal is duty bound and liable to pronounce impartial judgment. Aggrieved party through the section is empowered to approach the court for its intervention.