India updates

Arbitration & ADR

Contributed by Khaitan & Co
Enforcement of foreign awards: does violation of legal provision equate to contravention of fundamental policy?
  • India
  • 18 April 2019

In 2013 the Supreme Court held that the enforcement of a foreign arbitral award can be refused only if it is contrary to, among other things, the 'fundamental policy of Indian law'. This article focuses on the Indian courts' interpretation of this term and looks at a common question that arises in relation to this area of law – namely, whether a foreign arbitral award which is a mere violation of an Indian legal provision qualifies as a contravention of the fundamental policy of Indian law.

Arbitrability of consumer disputes: loophole in Booz Allen framework?
  • India
  • 14 March 2019

The Supreme Court recently ruled that consumer disputes are incapable of being submitted to arbitration, placing them in the infamous category of 'non-arbitrable' subjects in India. However, the court also stated that where an elected consumer fails to file a consumer complaint, the parties are not barred from submitting the dispute to arbitration. This article analyses whether such a statement could have far-reaching implications for arbitrability as a ground for challenging an award.

Clarity in arbitral proceedings – legislation post-pronouncement of arbitral award
  • India
  • 07 February 2019

The focus of India's rapidly evolving arbitration regime appears to be concentrated on factors such as ensuring that arbitrations are completed in a timely manner and appointed arbitrators are impartial. While these factors are significant, the importance of substantive and procedural clarity in terms of what happens after an award is passed is also crucial.

Revisiting Supreme Court Centrotrade decision and utility of two-tier arbitration clauses
  • India
  • 13 December 2018

Two-tier arbitration clauses or appellate arbitration mechanisms were upheld by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Centrotrade Minerals and Metal Inc v Hindustan Copper Limited. This article discusses the evolution of the jurisprudence surrounding two-tier arbitration in India and analyses both the utility of such a mechanism for the parties and its usefulness in certain situations.

Unsigned arbitration agreement does not bar arbitration
  • India
  • 29 November 2018

The Supreme Court recently held that the only prerequisite for an arbitration agreement is that it be in writing. Through this decision, the court has adopted a pro-arbitration approach and, as such, may contribute positively to the existing jurisprudence on the Indian arbitration regime. By relying on the unsigned bill of lading, the court focused on the parties' conduct and intent, both of which indicated that there was an arbitration agreement between them.


Banking

Changes to merchant discount rate framework: impact on stakeholders
  • India
  • 02 March 2018

The Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology recently established a new regulatory framework for setting limits on and payments of merchant discount rates and encouraging digital payments. Rates will now be determined based not only on the basis of transaction value, but also on turnover. However, in its effort to curb transaction costs for merchants, the government risks imposing significant charges on other system participants.


Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Vaish Associates Advocates
Supreme Court clears air on determination of relevant market in Section 3 cases
  • India
  • 18 April 2019

The Supreme Court recently clarified that the determination of the relevant market is not a mandatory pre-condition for assessing an alleged violation of Section 3 of the Competition Act. In its application, the Competition Commission of India argued that the Supreme Court had previously given the impression that the relevant market must be determined in all cases concerning Section 3 of the act.

Supreme Court limits NCLAT's appellate jurisdiction
  • India
  • 11 April 2019

The Supreme Court recently set aside a National Company Law Tribunal order and restored the appeal which had been dismissed thereby. The appeal concerned a stay order which the Competition Commission of India had granted subject to the appellant paying a sum equal to 10% of the total penalty. In its landmark ruling, the court confirmed that the right to appeal envisioned by the Competition Act cannot be restricted by the requirement that a pre-deposit be paid.

CCI closes investigation into Kerala Cement Dealers' Association and Ramco
  • India
  • 04 April 2019

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently closed its investigation into the Kerala Cement Dealers' Association (KCDA) and Ramco Cements Ltd. The director general had initiated an investigation based on allegations that Ramco had been prevented from supplying cement after refusing to follow the KCDA's instructions to do so at an unfair price. However, the CCI held that the evidence collected by the director general was insufficient to prove a contravention of the Competition Act.

Delhi High Court upholds right to counsel during director general's investigation
  • India
  • 28 March 2019

The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has upheld the right of a person summoned by the director general to be accompanied and represented by counsel. However, the Competition Commission of India has raised concerns that permitting the active participation of counsel during depositions may not be conducive to the public interest at large.

CCI launches investigation against ONGC for abuse of dominant position
  • India
  • 21 March 2019

The Competition Commission of India has launched an investigation under the Competition Act against Oil and Natural Gas Limited (ONGC) for abuse of its dominant position in the relevant market. The investigation stemmed from allegations made by the informant that ONGC had imposed one-sided and onerous terms in its charter hire agreements with suppliers of offshore support vehicles.


Corporate Tax

Contributed by BDO LLP
Hedging loss is not international transaction
  • India
  • 12 April 2019

In a recent case before the tax tribunal, a taxpayer gave an unsecured loan to its associated enterprises for which it had charged interest equal to LIBOR plus 250 basis points based on the rate at which it had borrowed funds from a foreign bank. The tax tribunal upheld the taxpayer's benchmarking and rejected the lower tax authority's contention that had the taxpayer advanced the loan to a third party, it would have charged a mark-up for its administrative expenses and the risk borne therein.

Transfer pricing adjustments must be restricted to international transactions and made at transactional level
  • India
  • 05 April 2019

The tax tribunal recently found that the lower tax authority had erred in making a transfer pricing adjustment at the entity level, rather than the transactional level. According to the tribunal, the lower tax authority had failed to understand that third-party transactions are in fact at arm's length and cannot be considered when calculating a transfer pricing adjustment.

Tax exemption eligibility criteria for start-ups reduced
  • India
  • 29 March 2019

In a bid to generate investment in start-ups and provide certainty regarding the so-called 'angel tax', the Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently issued another notification easing the criteria to avail of the exemption under the Income Tax Act. The notification will provide start-ups with a much-needed reprieve in terms of the increased threshold limits for paid-up share capital, allowing them to avail of the exemption more easily.

GST not applicable on reimbursement of salary on behalf of foreign entity as pure agent
  • India
  • 08 March 2019

The Authority for Advance Rulings recently considered the applicability of goods and services tax (GST) on expense reimbursements in the case of 'pure agents' – a key concept when evaluating taxable services, particularly for tax exemption claims in respect of expense reimbursements and applicable GST. While rulings are binding only on the taxpayer that raises the question, they carry persuasive value in identical situations.

Taxability of profit from sale of shares
  • India
  • 15 February 2019

While the classification of gains arising from a sale of shares has previously been litigated, the Bombay High Court recently dealt with the issue of whether gains arising from such a sale by a private trust would be taxable as capital gains or business income. The ruling examines not only the treatment of shares, but also the use of sales proceeds to conclusively adjudicate on the intentions behind the sale.


Employment & Benefits

Contributed by Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co
Reducing minimum period of unemployment to withdraw provident fund accumulations
  • India
  • 22 August 2018

The Central Board of Trustees of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation recently approved a proposal to permit provident fund members to withdraw 75% of their accumulations after a period of one month of continuous unemployment instead of two months. The proposal would come into effect when the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act and the Employees' Provident Funds Scheme are amended.

Code on Wages soon to be introduced
  • India
  • 28 March 2018

The new Code on Wages 2017 was recently introduced in Lok Sabha and is currently pending approval. The code seeks to integrate, amend and simplify the four central labour laws in order to reduce the multiplicity of definitions given under various labour legislation and foster a conducive labour environment by facilitating ease of compliance, thereby promoting the establishment of more organisations and creating more employment opportunities.

Increase in gratuity limit
  • India
  • 15 November 2017

The Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 is a form of social security legislation which prescribes a scheme for the payment of gratuity. For the private sector, gratuity is capped at Rs1 million, whereas central government employees can receive gratuity of up to Rs2 million. There is a proposal to increase the cap for the private sector in order to align it with the central government. Although this is a step forward in ensuring better benefits to eligible employees, it will increase employers' financial burden.

Disabilities Act and role of private employers
  • India
  • 04 October 2017

The federal government recently enacted a new act in order to empower disabled individuals and ensure their inclusion in the education and employment spheres. Although the government is primarily responsible for ensuring that disabled individuals receive equal treatment under the act, private organisations have also been made accountable for various obligations.

Social security obligation for outbound employees
  • India
  • 28 June 2017

With the growing landscape of global businesses, there is a constant need to deploy employees for international assignments not only for skill development, but also for the business needs of the organisation. In order to abate similar obligations in a host country, India has entered into social security agreements (SSAs) with many countries. SSAs offer various benefits, such as the totalisation of benefits and exemption from dual contributions of social security.