India updates

Arbitration & ADR

Contributed by Khaitan & Co
Supreme Court rules that arbitrators' fee schedule fixed by parties overrides Fourth Schedule of Arbitration Act
  • India
  • 08 August 2019

The division bench of the Supreme Court recently held that if the parties to an arbitration have agreed an arbitrators' fee schedule, the arbitrators must charge their fees in accordance with this agreed schedule and not in accordance with the Fourth Schedule of the amended Arbitration Act. While this decision gives credence to party autonomy and may thus be hailed as pro-arbitration, it specifies no limits and provides no other directions for parties to bear in mind when fixing a fee schedule.

Terminating arbitrator's mandate – can parties proceed with truncated tribunal?
  • India
  • 25 July 2019

It is common knowledge that arbitration provides greater flexibility and party autonomy compared with traditional litigation before the courts. Corollary to this, the agreed terms for the appointment of an arbitrator or arbitral tribunal must be strictly followed while making such appointments if a dispute arises between the parties to an agreement. However, what happens when an arbitrator fails to or is prevented from acting specifically at the penultimate stage?

Award replacing contractual provisions with new terms "shocks the conscience" of Supreme Court
  • India
  • 20 June 2019

The question of whether a contract can be amended retroactively was raised in the arbitration proceedings between Ssangyong and the National Highways Authority of India. The Supreme Court's ruling on the case is a welcome exposition on the contours of Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, especially in relation to challenges on grounds of violations of principles of natural justice.

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.


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.


Capital Markets

Union Budget 2019: key capital markets highlights
BDO LLP
  • India
  • 06 August 2019

On the back of its new electoral mandate, the Modi Sarkar 2.0 government recently presented its first budget. The budget focuses primarily on infrastructure spending and boosting investment from private and foreign investors, with the government forecasting that the Indian economy will grow to $5 trillion by 2025. Following the budget announcement, a slew of reforms and policies are expected in the coming months. This article highlights some of the key capital market-related amendments.


Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Vaish Associates Advocates
Court allows simultaneous proceedings against directors for alleged antitrust violation
  • India
  • 15 August 2019

In December 2018 the division bench of the Delhi High Court reconfirmed an earlier decision and held that simultaneous inquiries could be undertaken into Monsanto and its directors and officers for their alleged violation of the Competition Act 2002. The court also clarified that under Section 27 of the act, penalties could be imposed on the individuals in question based on their Monsanto-derived income.

Supreme Court ends jurisdictional conflict between CCI and TRAI
  • India
  • 08 August 2019

In December 2018 the Supreme Court finally ended the jurisdictional conflict between the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). By invoking the doctrine of harmonious construction, the court balanced the scales and gave the TRAI the power to first determine the rights and obligations of parties, after which – if the TRAI believes that anti-competitive activity has occurred – the CCI's jurisdiction can be invoked.

CCI disagrees with director general's finding that GAIL enforced one-sided clauses in long-term contracts
  • India
  • 01 August 2019

In November 2018 the Competition Commission of India disagreed with the director general's findings and dismissed allegations that GAIL (India) Ltd had imposed unfair and one-sided conditions in its gas supply agreements (GSAs) with seven other companies and thereby abused its dominant position as the sole supplier of regasified liquefied natural gas. The main allegations concerned the take-or-pay liability and letter of credit clauses in the GSAs, which were allegedly one-sided and biased.

CCI exonerates RDCA of anti-competitive conduct in pharmaceutical market
  • India
  • 25 July 2019

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed allegations that the Retail and Dispensing Chemists Association limited and controlled the free supply of products by charging the manufacturers of pharmaceutical products for a product information service (PIS). In making its decision, the CCI relied on the order passed in Santuka Associates Pvt Ltd, which found that the decisive factor in determining whether the practice of issuing PIS charges is anti-competitive lies in the nature of the charges.

CCI holds that neither Flipkart nor Amazon is dominant in online marketplace
  • India
  • 18 July 2019

The Competition Commission of India has dismissed allegations that Flipkart India Private Limited and Flipkart Internet Private Limited abused their dominant position. Interestingly, although information was filed against the Flipkart entities, the commission held a preliminary conference with Amazon and concluded that no one player in the market could be said to have a dominant position at this stage of the market's evolution.


Corporate Tax

Contributed by BDO LLP
CBDT clarifies assessment procedure for start-ups
  • India
  • 23 August 2019

The Central Board of Direct Tax (CBDT) recently issued a circular clarifying the applicability of Section 56(2)(viib) of the Income Tax Act and the procedure that must be followed by tax officers in assessment proceedings. Although an attempt has been made to end the confusion created in the start-up community, uncertainty surrounding the legal basis for the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and CBDT notifications regarding the applicability of Section 56(2)(viib) remains.

Union Budget 2019: key tax highlights
  • India
  • 02 August 2019

On the back of its new electoral mandate, the Modi Sarkar 2.0 government recently presented its first budget. The budget focuses primarily on infrastructure spending and boosting investment from private and foreign investors, with the government forecasting that the Indian economy will grow to $5 trillion by 2025. Following the budget announcement, a slew of reforms and policies are expected in the coming months, including a draft of the much-awaited Direct Tax Code.

Does Section 195 of Income Tax Act apply to salaries of employees seconded by foreign entities?
  • India
  • 05 July 2019

The Bombay High Court recently considered whether a taxpayer, which was resident in India and the sole owner of a business that provided personnel on an as-needed basis to foreign companies, had been required to deduct tax under Section 195 of the Income Tax Act when paying an employee who it had loaned to a Kuwait-based company. Section 195 of the act requires taxpayers to deduct tax on any payment (other than salary payments) made to non-residents.

Budget 2019: a box of possibilities
  • India
  • 28 June 2019

With a clear mandate from Indian citizens, the newly elected government is expected to bring a fresh perspective to tax matters when it issues its budget on 5 July 2019. The tax rates are unlikely to change substantially and the amendments made in the interim budget will remain intact. However, to increase India's competitiveness from an investment perspective, the government may reduce the peak tax rate for all businesses and entities.

Mumbai Tax Tribunal rules on service permanent establishment threshold: leave periods and multiple counting
  • India
  • 21 June 2019

The Mumbai Tax Tribunal recently ruled in a case concerning the threshold for determining whether a taxpayer has a service permanent establishment in India, finding that the multiple counting of employees on a particular day is prohibited under the India-UK tax treaty. Further, the tribunal held that since the employee in question had been on leave and no other employee of the taxpayer had rendered services in India, the employee's leave period had to be excluded from the threshold calculation.