18 Sep 2023 6:31 AM GMT
Speaking at the inaugural session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) South Asia Conference, 2023, Chief Justice of D Y Chandrachud, highlighted the issue of skewed gender composition in various International arbitral tribunals and institutions.“I am pleased to note that various International arbitral tribunals and institutions have curated regionally...
Speaking at the inaugural session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) South Asia Conference, 2023, Chief Justice of D Y Chandrachud, highlighted the issue of skewed gender composition in various International arbitral tribunals and institutions.
“I am pleased to note that various International arbitral tribunals and institutions have curated regionally diverse panels of arbitrators. I'm certain that this diversity is a contributor to the success of these institutions in transcending geographical and cultural barriers. However, the gendered compositions in these panels are hard to miss. We face what is called a diversity paradox. That is, a mismatch between our stated objectives and actual appointments. Less than 10 percent of all Indian arbitrators on various International institutional panels, are women. ICC’s 2022 report on gender diversity identified an unconscious bias as contributing to this problem", he said at the event held on September 14.
He referred to the gender handbook recently launched by the Supreme Court to identify and remove the use of words and phrases, loaded with gender stereotypes, in judgments and court language. “I hope that our gender handbook will take the theme of discussions beyond public law into more profitable commercial spaces.” he said.
Stressing on the need for female representation in all forms of dispute resolution, the CJI said “It is heartening to note that some arbitration rules have taken the cue in employing gender neutral pronouns in their texts. However, the overwhelming majority of impanelled arbitrators are men. Women, as persons of all genders, belong also in all institutions of dispute resolution. Speaking of and more importantly speaking to some of these issues is critical to the development of law and policy on dispute resolution.”
The Chief Justice also spoke on the need for cooperation between South Asian countries for development of its legal systems and business practices since the countries have a lot in common. "The many similarities in our cultural and social setup undoubtedly seep into our business practices and legal systems. Our economies are also interconnected, increasingly so, in the digital age” he said.
“When countries walk hand in hand, the progress of one becomes the progress of all.” The CJI said
He also highlighted the recent MoU entered into between India and Singapore through their Supreme Courts on advancing cooperation in judicial education and research. “This is one of the many MoUs that India has signed with South Asian Nations that foster knowledge sharing and collective advancement. Our judiciaries are walking in tandem.” he said.
In his address, CJI Chandrachud expressed his optimism in India’s future as an arbitrating country. “Of course new ideas and processes are initially viewed with mistrust. We have now moved far beyond this atmosphere of mistrust into calling ADR [Alternate Dispute Resolution] as Appropriate Dispute Resolution mechanisms.”
The move to arbitration would be particularly beneficial for smaller or mid-tier enterprises, who will not be required to shell out large sums in legal fees for court proceedings that may take years to conclude, he said. “As members of the legal community we know better than anyone that this is hardly a profitable phenomenon, perhaps except for us, especially for smaller and mid-sized enterprises.” he added.
Speaking on how far India has come in this regard, he said that the first ever National Arbitration Institution, Indian Council of Arbitration, was established in 1965 and now there are about 35 such institutions across the country. The Delhi International arbitration Center has gone from handling 78 cases in 2009 to 5868 cases in 2022, he pointed out. “With its eye on best practices India has steadily charted a course where arbitrations are the preferred mode of dispute resolution.” he said.
The CJI also used the occasion to highlight some of the recent technological strides taken by the Supreme Court. “From e-filing and record keeping to real-time Information Systems everything is being done digitally. Electronic case management systems are available at the click of a button. Today the Supreme Court of India has onboarded all its data on the National Judicial Data Grid in a new era of transparency and accountability. The Supreme Court issues entry passes through a virtual platform. Almost 700 of them which are issued every day to people who visit our court. We live stream hearings of certain constitutionally significant cases and we release transcripts of oral arguments in those cases.”
“A friend once told me a few days back, in fact that watching one of these live hearings on YouTube was better than watching a Netflix movie on occasion!” He said in a lighter vein.
He also informed the gathering that the Supreme Court is about to enter into an MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the work of the Supreme Court.