The Supreme Court recently set out the legal position regarding challenges to a person's possible appointment as an arbitrator. It held that since ineligibility goes to the root of the appointment, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 clarifies that if the arbitrator falls under any of the categories specified in the Seventh Schedule, he or she becomes ineligible to act as an arbitrator. However, if the circumstances fall under the Fifth Schedule, the person would not be de jure ineligible.
By way of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2015, the government sought to reform the law in relation to international commercial arbitrations conducted in India and foreign-seated international commercial arbitrations. Following recent judgments from the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court, it is timely to analyse the amendment act with reference to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Model Law on international commercial arbitration.
The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that Indian arbitration law does not specifically prohibit two-tier arbitration clauses which provide for appellate review of an arbitral award by a subsequent arbitration. This judgment is an important win for party autonomy in India and sends a pro-arbitration message.
The Delhi High Court recently clarified the scope and interpretation of Section 26 of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2015. The Delhi High Court held that if arbitration was commenced before October 23 2015, the amendment act does not apply to the court proceedings for setting aside an arbitral award rendered in relation to such proceedings.
The independence and impartiality of arbitral tribunals is significant in order to encourage faith and trust in litigants and ensure that disputes are independently, impartially and fairly adjudicated. Against this backdrop, the enforceability of contracts between private parties and government entities must be considered, as such entities often appoint arbitrators who act with such inflexibility as essentially to render arbitration agreements redundant and the required consent of the parties meaningless.
The Supreme Court recently held that a dishonoured post-dated cheque for repayment of a loan instalment that was described as 'security' in the loan agreement was covered by the criminal liability set out in Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. While deciding whether dishonoured cheques issued to discharge existing liability fall under Section 138, the court explained that the question of whether a post-dated cheque is for "discharge of debt or liability" depends on the nature of the transaction.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently issued a press release stating that given the rapid changes to the payments solutions space, it was in the process of reviewing the regulatory framework governing pre-paid payment instruments. The RBI also stated that it will grant no new licences for the issue of pre-paid payment instruments until the end of February 2017. This temporary suspension will not apply to applications made by new small finance banks and payment banks.
The Reserve Bank of India recently issued guidelines for the at-will licensing of universal banks in the private sector which, for the first time, will allow applicants to apply for a banking licence at will. The at-will regime will lead to increased transparency, better innovation and more realistic valuations, and is a significant step towards a healthier licensing regime for new private banks.
The Supreme Court recently clarified that all bank employees (including those employed by private sector banks) will be treated as public servants for the purposes of anti-corruption law. This ruling has significant implications, as all employees, officers and key managerial personnel of banking companies (ie, private and public sector banks and branches of foreign banks) will now come under the purview of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The Reserve Bank of India recently introduced the Strategic Debt Restructuring Scheme, which allows banks to convert outstanding loan payments into equity shares through strategic debt restructuring if defaulting borrowers fail to achieve projected viability milestones set out under the restructuring package. While the success of the scheme remains to be seen, it is a powerful tool for banks to manage their stressed accounts.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs recently issued a notification exempting regional rural banks (RRBs) from the applicability of the merger control regime in India. The notification provides that Sections 5 and 6 of the Competition Act 2002, which regulate combinations, will not apply to amalgamations of RRBs for which the government has issued a notification under the Regional Rural Banks Act 1976. This exemption is applicable for a five-year period.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently found the Container Trailer Owners Coordination Committee and its four participating associations guilty of anti-competitive conduct for imposing a turn system which had led to unilaterally fixed prices. However, the CCI held that certain mitigating circumstances existed in favour of the defendants and therefore imposed no penalty on them. Instead, it merely directed them to desist from indulging in such anti-competitive conduct in future.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently closed a case against OLA Cabs for the alleged abuse of its dominant position in the market for radio taxi services in Bengaluru. The CCI found that the company held no such position in the market and that competitors regularly engaged in practices such as below-cost pricing and offering loyalty discounts. Reluctant to intervene in a nascent market, the CCI exemplified the growing trend for economic analysis in decision making in India.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently dismissed claims against Sanofi India Limited for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the market of drugs and pharmaceutical products. The CCI found that Sanofi enjoyed no dominant position and therefore held that there was no prima facie case to investigate its alleged conduct.
The Competition Commission of India recently dismissed allegations of anti-competitive conduct against the producers and presenters of the film Kahaani-2, as well as two digital cinema service providers (DCSP). The plaintiff claimed that the defendants had entered into an anti-competitive agreement to control the release of Kahaani-2 and deny other DCSPs operating in the market access to the film.
Parliament recently passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act 2016. The act has not only addressed the concerns of stakeholders by introducing provisions to transfer captive user mines, but also addressed the concerns of banks and financial institutions with non-performing assets and bad debts by providing that the proceeds from the sale of assets may be used to discharge debts.
The government recently notified changes to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy by issuing guidelines on FDI in Indian entities engaged in the e-commerce sector. The guidelines have specifically permitted 100% FDI under the automatic route in entities using the marketplace model and have also set out the conditions applicable to e-commerce entities with FDI using the marketplace model.
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.
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.
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.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 was recently passed by the upper house of Parliament. Key changes include enhanced maternity leave, the introduction of maternity leave for adopting and commissioning mothers and new remote working provisions. The amendments are undoubtedly a positive step towards promoting diversity and the increased participation of women in the workforce in the manufacturing and service industries.