The Arbitration and Conciliation(Amendment) Act no.33,2019, contained the following salient features, inter alia-
First and foremost to amend Section 11 of the Act which was linked to the overall Appointment of Arbitrators in order to change the prevalent system of appointing arbitrators, by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the case of International Commercial Arbitration, and the Chief Justice of the High Courts in all other cases by delegating and according in a sense its power to appoint arbitrators to a judge in the court, to a system wherein the arbitrators shall be eventually selected by the so-called arbitral institutions that had been designated by the Supreme or even High courts.
Secondly, in the case which there were no graded arbitral institutions are available, the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court can possibly maintain a panel of arbitrators for discharging the functions and duties of arbitral institutions.
Thirdly to insert a new Part 1A of the 1996 Act, which would entail the establishment and incorporation of an independent body namely, the Arbitration Council of India for the primary purpose of grading of arbitral institutions and the accreditation of arbitrators, among various other things.
Fourthly, to amend Section 23 of the Act which was linked to the Statement of Claim and defense in order to provide that the statement of claim and defense shall be completed within six months from the prior date the arbitrators have received the notice of appointment.
Fifth, to primarily provide that the arbitrator, the arbitral institutions and the parties shall maintain the confidentiality of information linked to arbitral proceedings as well as to protect the arbitrator or arbitrators from any suit or other legal processes for any action or omission that was done in good faith in the course of arbitration proceedings by also adding two additional sections
Finally, it also implied that it was imperative to clarify that Section 26 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Act,2015, applies only to the arbitral proceedings which began only on or after 23rd October 2015, and to such court proceedings which initiated from such arbitral proceedings.
The Act also necessarily incorporated Part 1A in the 1996 Act which provided for the establishment, composition, and functions of the Arbitration Council of India as under:
Section 43B dealt with the establishment and incorporation of the Arbitration Council of India, with its headquarters mostly being in Delhi.
Section 43C dealt with the composition of the Arbitration Council which was to consist of the following members-
a chairperson who would necessarily be a former judge of the Supreme Court or chief justice or a judge of a high court or an eminent person, who was appointed by the Government of India while simultaneously in consultation with the Chief Justice of India
also, a renowned arbitration practitioner who was previously nominated by the Government of India
a distinguished academician who had also been appointed by the government of India in prior consultation with the chairperson
lastly the following ex officio members, Secretary of the Ministry of Law, Secretary of Ministry of Finance, and one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry to be chosen by the Government of India and as well as a chief executive officer in the position of a member secretary.
Section 43D, while laid down the duties and functions of the Arbitration Council of India which would include the power to review the grading of arbitral institutions as well as of the arbitrators.
Source: Harmony amidst Disharmony - The Indian Framework- Fali S Nariman