‘Unclogging the Indian Legal System & Improving Contract Enforcement Mechanisms for Ease of Doing Business’

No.PR-270 September 26, 2020 New Delhi ‘Unclogging the Indian Legal System & Improving Contract Enforcement Mechanisms for Ease of Doing Business’ Artificial Intelligence and other forms of technologies are being looked upon as a viable option for assisting judges in court matters, deliberated in a session organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on ‘Unclogging the Indian Legal System and Improving Contract Enforcement Mechanisms for Ease of Doing Business’. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Navin Chawla, Judge, Delhi High Court, apprised about the various initiatives being taken to tackle pre and post-litigation matters. He discussed that the Rules of the courts have been amended and, new rules have come up to tackle commercial disputes. Close monitoring is being done by assessing the various aspects of efficiency for subordinate / district courts based on the numbers of matters being disposed of. Virtual hearings are being conducted throughout the day and, matters other matters are also being taken up, unlike very urgent ones that were being heard a few months back. Speaking about the matter of adjournments, he mentioned that provisions are being made using technology to avoid adjournments on the issue of unavailability of documents. He also mentioned that adjournments are the main cause of the enormous backlogs and, judges need to become stricter in granting the same, timelines must be fixed for different matters and, there shall be no leniency. The lawyers must understand their responsibility without their cooperation, no major change is possible. Taking about the poor enforcement of the contract, he discussed that there should be a provision for the compensatory cost for delays. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Narula, Judge, Delhi High Court, in his deliberation suggested the need to increase the strength of judges at all levels of the judiciary. He opined that the judiciary has adapted very quickly and, even Mediation is held virtually. E-Lok Adalats were held recently with 77 benches and disposing of 5,838 maters but, technology has certain limitations, since physical hearings are not possible for now, there is a need for more in-depth study to handle things better in the future. The young lawyers must adapt to the changing time and must be crisper in arguments and pleadings. The judges who deny adjournments become unpopular but this practice should be adopted by all judges and adjournments must be granted in genuine matters only. Enforcement of contracts would certainly improve if the judiciary can provide predictability and, the judicial discipline also must be improved, opined Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Narula. He discussed that parties must opt for institutional arbitration over ad-hoc arbitration. There is a need to fix the accountability of officers/judges in the subordinate courts to re-establish the faith of the people. It was recently observed that the maximum number of cases before the high court was related to a tax refund, the question is why a constitutional court has to deal with such matters, which wastes courts’ time. He suggested that judges need to be strict for adjournments and, proper training should be organized for dealing with commercial matters, for better enforceability of contract is concerned. The use of technology could also be of great help in the future and, now there is an e-challan court, in which no physical hearing is required. Dr. D K Aggarwal, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in his presidential remarks mentioned that Ease of doing business is the key to entrepreneurship, innovation, and wealth creation but in a country like India that is on the top in this vertical lacks in the enforcement of the contract. He mentioned that the Government needs to take speedy efforts in pinpointing redundant and out-dated Central/ State Acts and scrap them. One area which needs immediate concern of the Government is the Simplification of existing Laws to minimize multiple interpretations that automatically lead to prolonged litigation. The certainty of law can also contain litigation. Dr. Aggarwal highlighted that the only solution to unclog the Courts and to provide time-bound justice to those approaching the courts is perhaps to fix a mandatory time limit for the disposal of cases. Dr. Aggarwal discussed that the use of technology has made it possible for our Higher Courts to impart justice during the period of Covid-19. Even Post Covid-19, Virtual hearing can also help in unclogging the Courts. In cases of bail, stay, minor offenses, admissions, recording statements of witnesses, the grant of interlocutory orders, disposal of miscellaneous applications, etc. should be heard and disposed of only through virtual hearing. The artificial intelligence infrastructure will now play a pivotal role in the organization of courts, categorization of matters, process automation. It will also enable the extraction of information at a fast rate and can be used to decide a case. All of these are major developments that are much awaited and are likely to have a very positive impact on the enforceability of contracts in India provided that these proposed amendments see the light of the day and continue to remain the priority of the government, said Dr. Aggarwal. Mr. Amir Z Singh Pasrich, Chair, Law & Justice Committee, PHD Chamber deliberated that judges should take up the matter to the CJI and the Central Government for bringing necessary reforms. Dr. Sanjeev Gemawat, Co-Chair, Law & Justice Committee, PHD Chamber raised the issue Enforcement of Contracts in India and emphasized that the genesis of the current scenario if disrespectful for contracts in India. He was of the view that in India an uncertainty looms over the Indian courts that they all view and interprets contracts differently. The session was introduced by Dr. Jatinder Singh, Director, PHD Chamber, and was attended by many participants. Ends Media Division PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry