New Delhi: A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on Wednesday deferred its proceedings till mid-November after Attorney General R. Venkataramani apprised the Supreme Court that the expert committee formed by the Centre to examine the working of arbitration law and recommend reforms in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, would require more time to prepare its report.
“Can it be extended by one more month? I think by the middle of November,” pleaded Venkataramani before the Constitution Bench.
The Constitution Bench, also comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy, P.S. Narasimha, Pankaj Mithal and Manoj Misra, acceded to the request made by the top-most law officer of the Centre.
“Attorney General Mr. R. Venkataramani states that a consultative process is being carried out by the government on the proposed amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. It is submitted that reference to the Constitution Bench may be taken up in the middle of November at which point of time there will be clarity on the law,” the Bench said in its order.
The Supreme Court posted the matter to mid-November for further hearing.
On Monday, Venkataramani requested the CJI requesting for deferral of proceedings coming up before the Constitution Bench.
However, the Bench had said that it will list the batch of petitions on September 13 to “at least know….about the progress so far”.
On July 12, the Constitution Bench deferred hearing for a period of two months and listed the matter on September 13 after Venkataramani had told the five-judge bench that the expert committee has commenced the consultation process and will “not take more than two months” to submit its report to the government.
The CJI-led Constitution Bench is considering the question if a person who is ineligible to be an arbitrator in a dispute can nominate another person to be an arbitrator.
In 2022, the issue was referred to a larger bench in view of the conflicting decisions rendered by two three-judge benches.
On June 14 this year, the Ministry of Law and Justice set up a 16-member expert committee headed by former Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, T.K. Vishwanathan, inter-alia, to suggest novel solutions to limit the requirements of parties to seek judicial intervention by approaching the court and to address the issue of expeditious attribution of finality to the award.