On 23 March 2020, the Supreme Court of India issued an order extending limitation periods by a period of 15 days or until further orders were given. The extension of time was applied to all proceedings, before any court, tribunal or forum in India, in respect of all proceedings including the filing of petitions, applications, and appeals, regardless of the limitations prescribed under general or special laws .
The purpose was to provide relief to parties scheduled to submit filings before courts or tribunals but who would have been unable to do so due to restrictions on movement.
Extension of limitation period
The court clarified that where the limitation expired after 15 March 2020, then the period would be extended by another 15 days after the date on which the lockdown was lifted in a territory.
Draft NDIAC Rules were released for public comment
In 2016, the government of India appointed a high level committee to review and suggest improvements to institutional arbitration in India.
A committee report recommended that the effectiveness of the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) should be monitored. As a result, in March 2019, the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance 2019 was announced to replace the existing ICADR and establish a new arbitration centre in New Delhi. The aim of NDIAC is to conduct domestic and international arbitration and provide the necessary administrative support and facilities for the purposes of mediation and arbitration proceedings.
A draft version of the NDIAC Rules issued for public comments manifests draft rules,some of which are as follows:
- The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the terms and conditions and the salary and allowances payable to the Chairperson and Full-time Members) Rules 2020
- The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (the qualifications, experience, method of selection and the functions of the Registrar, Counsel and other officers and employees of the Centre) Rules 2020.
New foreign investment law being considered by India
India is planning on a new legislation to improve foreign investment. Reports have suggested that officials have recognised that a major issue for investors has been the enforcement of contracts and fast dispute resolution.
The aim of the new law is to offer:
- Safeguard to foreign investors against policy changes by central and state governments.
- A fast-track dispute resolution system.
- Foreign investors have been impacted by policy changes exposing them to high regulatory risks. At the beginning of this decade, India lost a claim by White Industries and, ever since, several claims have been brought by more foreign investors challenging retrospective tax collection, withdrawal of tax concessions and cancellation of spectrum licences. India’s experiences, as a frequent respondent in investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) claims, required the government to adopt a new model BIT in 2015 and, subsequently to terminate its existing BITs with more than 50 countries in 2017.
With reference to this,the new proposed legislation is intended to provide a domestic avenue for speedy dispute resolution to foreign investors. However, remains unclear whether the proposed law intends to replace ISDS protections for foreign investors completely. Even if it does, one might wonder whether a domestic reform without consideration to international law obligations will provide the comfort to foreign investors that it purports to do.