The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 (2015 Amendment) came into force with effect from October 23, 2015. Although this amendment was enacted to remove controversies and iron out wrinkles in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, (Parent Act), it has in fact, given rise to its own set of controversies. One of the burning issues was the applicability of the 2015 Amendment. Section 26 of the 2015 Amendment provides for its applicability, and reads as follows:

  1. Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the arbitral proceedings commenced, in accordance with the provisions of Section 21 of the principal Act, before the commencement of this Act unless the parties otherwise agree but this Act shall apply in relation to arbitral proceedings commenced on or after the date of commencement of this Act.

One would believe that the above provision would have settled any issue of applicability of the 2015 Amendment. It has instead given rise to more litigation,[i] which has now been partially addressed by the Supreme Court.[ii]

The controversy in all the litigation that came up before the High Courts, and which also saw conflicting points of view, was around the applicability of the amended Section 36 of the Parent Act. In the pre-amendment era, when an award debtor challenged an award under Section 34, the award creditor was prevented from enforcing the award until a determination had been made by a court on the challenge, because of an ‘automatic stay’ on the operation of the award.

In order to overcome this, and for the benefit of award creditors, Section 36 of the Parent Act, was amended to do away with this ‘automatic stay’. It required the challenging party to separately apply for a stay and also required the court to direct the award debtor to deposit the award amount, so as to avoid frivolous challenges. The question for the courts has been the applicability of the amended Section 36 to Section 34 applications that were filed before and after the 2015 Amendment came into force.

Continue Reading BCCI v. Kochi Cricket: Supreme Court’s Much Needed Third Umpire Decision

On 1 May 2018, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released the much-awaited Draft National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 (Draft Policy) for public comments. The Draft Policy aims to give direction not only to the telecom market but also to digital communications and prepares the country for the future. The policy, when finalised, will act as a framework for all future legal and regulatory changes/ development in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The Draft Policy proposes the restructuring of the legal, licensing and regulatory framework including amendments to the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and related legislation, so as to enable the utilisation of newer/ advanced technologies/ convergence. Many stakeholders would suspect the same shall result in unrestricted interconnection between the internet protocol (IP) and Public Switched Telephone (PSTN) networks. The Draft Policy intends introduction of a light touch regulatory regime for various services such as over-the-top (OTT) that allows providers to stream content via the internet, cloud computing, data centres, etc. The Draft Policy also makes clear the requirement to amend terms and conditions for other service providers (OSPs). It further suggests establishing a unified policy framework and spectrum management regime.

Continue Reading Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018: Restructuring the Legal and Regulatory Regime

Most sectors of the economy have been completely liberalised for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was abolished in June 2017. Policy watchers in this space were, therefore, taken unawares by a cryptic announcement by the Ministry of Finance on 16 April, 2018, on the “Minimum capital requirements for ‘other financial service’ activities which are unregulated by any financial sector regulator and FDI is allowed under government route”.

Why the Press Release

To put it in perspective, this announcement has its genesis in the RBI’s FEMA Notification No. 375/2016-RB dated September 9, 2016, which was a big ticket change, doing away with the nearly two decades old stipulation of minimum capitalisation in the NBFC sector. The playing field was thus levelled and the financial sector regulations could prevail in an ownership agnostic fashion.

The formal Press Note announcing this change in fact came subsequently (see Press Note 6 of 2016 dated October 25, 2016). FEMA 375 firmly placed all regulated financial services activities in the fold of the respective financial regulators, instead of the latter having to concern themselves with the ownership pattern of the entity.

FEMA 375, however, laid down that activities that are not regulated by any regulator, or where only part of the activity is regulated, or where there is doubt regarding regulatory oversight, approval would need to be obtained from the Government with attendant minimum capitalisation requirements as may be decided by the Government. It is not known , in the public domain, as to how many approvals in the ‘unregulated financial services’ space have actually been accorded post issuance of FEMA 375. This information would have been useful. Be that as it may, what has been set out in the press release of April 16, 2018 is perhaps the way for the future.

Continue Reading FDI and Unregulated Financial Services

There have been some very wide sweeping and deep impact changes in the business and economic environment over the past few years, many of which have also had a strong social impact. While some changes could be considered political, there are many changes that have happened basically because the government of the day chose to bite the bullet. These were long overdue and just couldn’t be kicked any further down the road – to put it succinctly, “the time had come”.

India’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy, which has its genesis in the liberalisation era beginning in the early 1990s, had always been subject to periodic incremental relaxation of sectoral caps and other easing measures. However, after years of a gradualist mode, the current decade has seen more dramatic shifts in the hitherto entrenched position in respect to FDI in various sectors. The ultimate measure was of course the abolition in June 2017 of the two and half decades old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the inter-ministerial body that granted ‘prior government approval’ in mandated sectors.

The demise of this institution regarded as venerable by some and obstructionist by others, met as expected, with a mixed response. With nearly 95% of the FDI inflows in the country already coming in through the automatic route, the utility and need for such a body was clearly on the wane; practitioners were, however, apprehensive of the absence of the body, which had become the proverbial ‘go to place’ for clarifications and was the last port of call for policy intervention in case of need.

With the formal dissolution of the FIPB at the end of June 2017, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was put in place whereby the sectors / activities / transactions that required government approval were mandated to approach the respective administrative ministries for the same. Simultaneously, the FIPB portal was literally morphed into the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP), bringing with it bare essential changes to name and ownership, but virtually nothing more.

Continue Reading FDI Policy – So What’s New?

Previously, the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (Act) governing inbound and outbound mergers, amalgamations or arrangements between Indian companies and foreign companies (Cross Border Mergers) were notified by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on April 13th, 2017. Subsequently, on April 26th, 2017, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued draft regulations to govern Cross Border Mergers (Draft RBI Regulation).

We had published an earlier blog piece on this, discussing the key highlights of the Draft RBI Regulation, which is available here.

It has been close to a year since the Draft RBI Regulation and on March 20th, 2018, the RBI has finally notified the Foreign Exchange Management (Cross Border Merger) Regulations, 2018 (Merger Regulation). This article briefly analyses the key changes brought about in the Merger Regulation and its implications.

Continue Reading India finally notifies Cross Border Merger Regulations

Image credit: Scroll.in, September 26, 2017

This is the sixth blog piece in our series entitled “Those Were the Days”, which is published monthly. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.


The need for “rule of law” to prevail is repeatedly espoused by today’s social and political commentators. In light of this, it is important to revisit the origin of the doctrine of “rule of law”, and understand how it originated, so as to fully appreciate its significance and meaning.

In 1676, Sir Mathew Hale, the then Chief Justice of King’s Bench (1671-76), set out 18 tenets for dispensing of justice. The sixth tenet read as follows,

“That I suffer not myself to be possessed with any judgment at all till the whole business of both parties be heard.”

This very sound principle has two fundamental requirements.

The first is that the judge ought not to be predisposed to either one of the adversarial parties, and should not form a view on the merits of the matter before him until all the parties are heard. This of course is very difficult to do given that all persons including judges are bound to have their own views, opinions and preferences. However, through the ages the hallmark of an eminent member of the judiciary is the manner in which he/she overcomes inherent prejudices so as to ensure that the judicial adjudication is based only on the law, the facts based only on evidence on record before the court, and the interplay of the facts in relation to the law.

Continue Reading The Principles of Natural Justice – Origin and Relevance

The Central Government in India had introduced the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (“PMLA”), to prevent the circulation of laundered money. The Act defines money laundering as any process or activity connected to proceeds of crime, including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and projecting or claiming it as legitimate property. While the PMLA Act allowed for confiscation and seizure of properties obtained from the laundered money, such actions were still subject to the processes of criminal prosecution. This led to many of the persons accused of money laundering, to flee the jurisdiction of Indian courts to avoid criminal prosecution under PMLA and the consequent confiscation of the properties.

On March 12, 2018, the Indian government introduced the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 (“Bill/Proposed Act”), in the Lok Sabha, after receiving approval from the Cabinet, to address the issue of such economic offenders avoiding criminal prosecution. The Bill defines a ‘fugitive economic offender’ as any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to economic offences, under various statutes, listed in a schedule to the Bill (“Scheduled Offence”) has been issued, on or after the enactment of this Bill, by any Indian court, and who:

  • Has left India to avoid criminal prosecution, or
  • Being abroad refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

Pertinently, in 2015, the definition of proceeds of crime in the PMLA was amended to include property equivalent to proceeds of crime held outside the country.

Continue Reading Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018

The Union Cabinet recently issued a press release for the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (“2018 Bill”). The amendments which, when passed will apply to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) are pursuant to the Srikrishna Committee Report[1] released in July, 2017 (“Report”), recommending further amendments on the back of the 2015 amendments, primarily to improve on or clarify various provisions.

Key amendments approved include the following:

  • Arbitration Council of India

The Report recommended the creation of an independent body to accredit arbitral institutions and arbitrators as a number of stakeholders interviewed were disenchanted with the existing arbitral facilities in India. The recommendation has been accepted and an independent body will be set up, namely, the Arbitration Council of India to enable formal evaluation and accreditation. This Council will frame norms for alternate dispute resolution and evolve professional guidelines. This is a positive step to ensure the quality of arbitral institutions. Though India has several arbitral institutions, few apart from the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration are recognized as having the expertise to administer multi-party international arbitrations.

Continue Reading The Supreme Court on the 2015 Amendments and the Cabinet on the 2018 Arbitration Amendments – Good for India?

Globally, regulatory authorities have developed a keen interest in the pharmaceutical industry. Recent enforcement actions, including the cases of GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories etc., have paved the way for regulatory agencies to dig deeper into the malpractices prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry.

Back in 2014, the total pharmaceutical revenues worldwide had exceeded one trillion U.S. dollars for the first time. Increased competition owing to the growing size of the industry has noticeably increased the complexities of operations, sales and marketing, which in turn have led to an alarming spike in malpractices by stakeholders involved at various levels in the industry.

With the growth of the pharmaceutical industry and the unavoidable by-products that result from it, the industry is currently faced with a number of schemes that have been tailored to manipulate and defraud enforcement agencies and the public at large. The present article aims to identify the most common ‘red flags’ and fraudulent schemes that plague the pharmaceutical industry in India. Sufficient awareness about these fraudulent schemes is essential to equip auditors with a more focused and effective audit plan.

Red Flags and Fraudulent Schemes

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is faced with a number of challenges from a compliance point of view. The most prevalent fraudulent schemes in the industry relate to year-end targets, sales returns, etc., which are used as a veil to effectuate concerns around channel stuffing, free of cost products, free samples, fraud.

Continue Reading Red Flags in a Pharmaceutical Audit

The Supreme Court of India has termed the right to travel beyond the territory of India as a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21[1] of the Constitution of India. This was most famously stated in the case of Menaka Gandhi v Union of India (Supreme Court, 1978), which had confirmed its earlier judgment in Satwant Singh Sawhney v D. Ramarathnam (1967). As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Indian legislation in this regard is also bound by Article 13, which guarantees people: (1) the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state; and (2) the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.

However, reasonable travel restrictions are constitutionally valid, and are enforced through the provisions of the Passports Act, 1967.[2] Recently, Governmental agencies, police authorities and courts have begun issuing these restrictions through ‘Look out Notices’ or ‘Look out Circulars’ (LOC). These communications are being issued to restrict the departure of persons from India if they are subject to an investigation by the issuing agency for a cognisable offence, or where the accused is evading arrest or the trial, or where the person is a proclaimed offender. Until the Maneka Gandhi case there were no regulatory guidelines for enforcing any travel restrictions, or for issuing LOCs.

The Regulatory History of LOCs

Even though LOCs were first officially recognised in 1979, they have recently been used, frequently, to telling effect. In 1979, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for the first time issued guidelines for issuing LOCs, followed by two more such communications:

  • A letter dated September 5, 1979 (25022/13/78-F.I) (1979 MHA Letter);
  • An office memorandum dated December 27, 2000 (25022/20/98/F.IV) (2000 Memorandum)
  • An office memorandum dated October 27, 2010 (25016/31/2010-Imm) (OM)

Continue Reading Look Out Notices: A Questionable Exercise in Power?