Today, the Lok Sabha passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in substance. However, the Minister added a new clause 25A to the Bill. The said clause deals with retrospectivity of the aforesaid amendments. It specifically provides that the amendments would not apply to arbitrations commenced before 23.10.2015. The said clause reads as below":
"25A. 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.”
This, thus, puts to rest all the debates surrounding retrospective applicability of the 1996 Act. But the crucial question remains regarding the retrospectivity of the 2015 Ordinance amending the said Act, which would, in all possibility, be interpreted in the same lines as the above clause. If not, then it would lead to an anomalous situation where the Ordinance leading to the Amendment Act would apply retrospectively but the Amendment Act would apply prospectively. Another question would be regarding the effect of repeal of the Ordinance by the Amendment Act. Hence, it is possible that the courts would take the stand that the Ordinance would also apply prospectively.
Today's Lok Sabha debates on the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 can be accessed from here.