The Amendment Act of 2019 introduced Part 1A in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. It talks about the Arbitration Council of India (ACI). Part 1A gives power to the central government to create an independent body known as Arbitration Council.
In this law note, let us learn about the Arbitration Council of India, its establishment, composition, removal, functions, and more.
Establishment and Incorporation of Arbitration Council of India
As per section 43B of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the central government has the power to establish the Arbitration Council of India for performing the duties and functions as prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.
ACI, i.e. the Arbitration Council of India, is a body incorporated with perpetual succession, a common seal, and with the same ability to acquire, hold, and dispose of both movable and immovable property as specified in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
The council can also enter into contracts by its own name and can also sue and be sued. The head office of the council is in Delhi. If required, the council can also establish offices at other places in India with the prior approval of the central government.
Composition of Arbitration Council of India
The Arbitration Council shall be composed of the following members, as per section 43C of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996:
1. Chairperson of the council shall be a person who has been the judge of Supreme Court or chief justice of any High Court or a judge of High Court or any other eminent person having special knowledge and experience in the working and administration of arbitration. The central government appoints the chairperson after consultation with the chief justice of India.
2. An esteemed practitioner of arbitration having excellent knowledge and experience in both domestic and international institutional arbitration shall be nominated by the central government as a member of the council.
3. An esteemed academician having experience of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution laws in research and teaching shall be appointed as a member by the central government after consultation with the chairperson.
4. A person who has been secretary to the government of India in the legal affairs department, Ministry of Law and Justice, or his representatives not below the rank of the joint secretary shall be appointed as a member or ex-officio member of the council.
5. Government secretary in expenditure department, ministry of finance or his representatives not below the rank of joint member can be appointed as a member or ex-officio member of the council.
6. One representative of a recognised body of commerce and industry can be selected as a part-time member on a rotational basis by the central government.
The chairperson of the Arbitration Council of India and council members, except ex-officio members, shall hold office for a term of three years commencing on the date from which they hold the office.
The chairperson shall not hold the office after he has attained the age of seventy years, and a member other than an ex-officio member shall not hold the office after he has reached the age of sixty-seven years.
Chief Executive Officer of Arbitration Council of India
The council will have a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the council.
His educational qualification, appointment, and other terms and conditions of employment shall be as defined by the central government.
The CEO of the Arbitration Council of India is responsible for carrying out the activities and obligations as provided in the regulations.
The council shall have a secretariat consisting of the number of officers and staff determined by the central government.
The qualifications, appointment, and other terms & conditions of service of the staff of the arbitration council shall be specified by the central government.
Duties and Functions of Arbitration Council
As per section 43D of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the Arbitration Council of India must take all necessary steps to promote and encourage arbitration, mediation, conciliation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, as well as make policy and guidelines for the establishment, operation, and maintenance of uniform professional standards in all aspects of arbitration.
The council may follow the below-mentioned criteria to carry out the duties and functions imposed by this Act:
1. Establish policies controlling arbitral institution grading.
2. Recognise professional institutes that provide a mandate to the arbitrator.
3. Hold arbitration training, workshops, and courses in collaboration with law firms, law universities, and arbitral institutes.
4. Organise workshops, training programs, etc., in collaboration with law universities and law firms.
5. Make recommendations to the central government.
6. Give recommendations about staff, training, and infrastructure of the Arbitral Council of India.
7. Such additional functions as the central government may determine.
Resignation of the Members of ACI
As given under section 43F of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the chairperson or the full-time or part-time member of ACI may resign from his office by giving written notice to the central government provided that until the central government permits him to do so, the chairperson or the full-time member shall continue to hold office until the expiration of three months from the date of receipt of such notice or until a person appointed in his place enters the office, whichever happens first.
Removal of the Member of Arbitration Council
As per section 43G (1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the central government has the power to remove any member from the office if he:
(a) Is an undischarged insolvent.
(b) Has engaged in any paid employment during his term of office (except part-time member).
(c) Has been convicted of an offence that is considered a serious offence in the opinion of the central government.
(d) Has acquired such financial or other interest likely to affect his functions maliciously as a member.
(e) Has abused his position in the office to the extent that he cannot continue being in the office for the public interest.
(f) Has become physically or mentally incapable of carrying out the responsibilities as a member.
According to Section 43G (2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, no member shall be removed from the office on the grounds given under clauses (d) and (e) of sub-section (1) as mentioned above, until the Supreme Court conducts an inquiry on behalf of the central government on the matter and reports the member to be guilty on that particular ground.
The amendment act of 2019 aims to ease some of the issues that the amendment act of 2015 created in the conduct of arbitration and court procedures by giving the provision and empowering the government to form an independent body of the Arbitration Council of India.
The ACI has its headquarter in Delhi and can also have other offices in different cities with the approval of the central government.