The rapidly changing economic activities demand expeditious settlement of disputes. There is also the huge backlog of cases in courts and precisely predicting time to conclude them is a difficult, if not impossible task.
Amidst this, a need has been felt for years for an alternative mechanism such as institutional arbitration for dispute resolution to inspire confidence and credibility among the litigants. In this backdrop, High Court of J&K recently accorded approval to setting up of Arbitration Centers at Srinagar and Jammu as “The Jammu and Kashmir International Arbitration Centre (JKIAC)”. The decision is a welcome one as it allows an Arbitrator to resolve the dispute between the parties after hearing them. Not only an institutionalized framework has been created for arbitration but it is expected to bring about speedy and expeditious resolution of disputes.
Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure provided for such a facility for the litigants long ago but due to certain reasons, particularly absence of detailed modalities, the issue remained static. While the section does not bind a court to necessarily conduct arbitration, it does not debar it either from referring a dispute to arbitration or reconciliation. The premise is that the court should feel satisfied that the dispute in a pending suit could be settled through arbitration. The denial of such a facility so far had resulted in delay in speedy justice. Now that the relevant rules have been framed by the High Court, constituting of such centres should be smooth as well as effective. There is also a need for awareness about the facility on a wider scale so that the litigants would find these Centres beneficial.
The setting up of JKIAC shall go a long way in achieving the object behind enactment of Section 89 Civil Procedure Code and at the same time shall ensure that arbitration proceedings remain inexpensive and are carried out within the shortest possible time.
The Courts annexed Arbitration Centres are successfully functioning at Delhi, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Chennai and Cuttack (Orrisa). The success should encourage Jammu and Kashmir to follow the suit.
One expects that the panel of Arbitrators prepared by the JKAIC and the Arbitration Committee are most suitable. Those appointed are also expected to be willing to serve in a dedicated and impartial manner. The arbitration process is associated to end a dispute as there are rare options for an appeal. This advantage gives the Arbitration process distinction of finality which is not the case with the normal course of court proceedings.