The CJI said at the launch of a book on Arbitration laws by Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra that action of Indian judiciary has given rise to claims under BITs in the international plane, "which is unprecedented".
Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said on Monday that the judiciary needs to reduce delays in dealing with cases involving foreign investors or arbitration awards to minimise risk of claims against the country in international fora under Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). The CJI said at the launch of a book on Arbitration laws by Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra that action of Indian judiciary has given rise to claims under BITs in the international plane, “which is unprecedented”.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who also spoke at the event, expressed concern that there appeared to be a bias towards big economies while granting awards as huge damages are never awarded against big countries like the USA, UK or Europe. “Therefore, can we not infer that some kind of different treatment was accorded,” Prasad said. CJI Bobde further said: “One thing judiciary can do to minimise risk of such claims is to address the issue of delays, especially in cases involving foreign investors or foreign arbitration awards.”
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The minister, while addressing the gathering comprising judges from the SC and Delhi High Court, the Attorney General K K Venugopal and the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said that globally there was concern over the “manner in which BIT awards were being given” and it “cannot be glossed over”. He further said that India was keen on becoming a centre for institutional arbitration and foreign arbitrators would be permitted here.
The CJI also appeared concerned over BIT claims against India, saying such claims have been made to “essentially halt ongoing criminal proceedings within the country” which were initiated against Indian and foreign nationals for alleged offences under our anti corruption laws. He said that the Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which contains BITs, needs to be reformed. ISDS is a system through which investors can sue countries for discriminatory practices.
The CJI further said that judges need to be conscious of all these aspects while deciding cases involving foreign entities or nationals. Justice Malhotra also, towards the end of the event, stressed on the need to reduce delays in arbitration award matters and to fastrack them, saying even the interest component of such awards over time “would be took much for an emerging economy to bear”. She also agreed with the Law Minister on the aspect that arbitrators are often biased in favour of investors.