Government initiative for speedy disposal: 22 courts to ease burden on judiciary

The move will create a business-friendly environment and improve the city’s ease-of-doing-business rank, government sources say. The matter has been placed before the cabinet and a decision is likely soon.

Nearly 89,000 civil cases are pending with 59 subordinate courts in the city. These are apart from the 15,000-odd commercial cases. Courts handling civil matters, including commercial cases, are already saddled with a huge number of cases. “Considering the complex nature of commercial cases and the statutory timelines to be adhered to, there should not be more than 200-250 cases in a commercial court. Thus, as per the current pendency of cases, not less than 60 commercial courts are required,” a source said.

The law department of Delhi government has prepared a proposal for the creation of 22 posts of judges for subordinate courts and ancillary staff for new commercial courts. The creation of these courts is governed by the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

Earlier this year, Delhi high court had asked the city government to create 22 posts of higher judicial services at the district judge level for establishing commercial courts. In March, HC wrote to the government for creation of posts for 22 judges and 24 each for senior judicial assistants, senior personal assistants and personal assistants, among other staff. The matter was taken up for hearing in Delhi HC recently.

Following the recommendation of the administrative reforms department, the finance department gave its approval to the proposal, but stated that the posts of 48 peons be outsourced.

The courts will be established in different districts to give access to citizens from across Delhi. Commercial courts have been functional in Delhi HC for some time to ensure speedy disposal of commercial disputes. The commercial benches were started in Delhi and Bombay high courts because these two cities have maximum commercial activity and, resultantly, a large number of disputes.

Time limit in arbitration will help speedy disposal: Mudgal

Introduction of time limit for arbitration proceedings in the new ordinance in this regard will help in quick resolution of disputes, according to former mudgalDelhi High Court judge Mukul Mudgal.

“This will help in quick resolution of disputes. If the counsel could prepare the claim in advance and present it in the first sitting itself, a lot of time and sittings can be saved,” he said during a panel discussion on ‘Changing landscape of arbitration in India’ here.

According to the new Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2015, an arbitral tribunal is required to render an award within 12 months from the date of appointment of arbitrators, which can be extended for a further period of 6 months by agreement of the parties.

Justice Mudgal also said if an award is not made within this time period, the mandate of the arbitrators automatically terminates and an extension can only be granted by courts.

He termed the amendment well-intended saying it sends a positive message regarding arbitration in India.

Besides him, senior advocate Amal Kumar Ganguli; Devdas Baliga, vice president (legal) Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia; and Sanjeev K Kapoor, partner (dispute resolution) at Khaitan and Company took part in the discussion.

Ganguli said an arbitration is as good and as bad as an arbitrator.

“But unfortunately, certain arbitrators nominated by the parties act as their counsel,” he added while discussing the new aspects of the legislation.

Baliga said capping of fees in the amended act is a boon to clients as it helps in managing the budget.

“Disputes affect the business. It takes away the focus of the firm as without capping, we would have no idea how much to pay,” he said.

The ordinance provides a cap on the fees to be paid to an arbitrator, barring international commercial arbitrations and institutional arbitrations.