The Ministry of Law and Justice had made significant contributions to help India vault 30 places to enter the top-100 club among 190 countries in the recent World Bank survey on the ‘Ease of Doing Business’.
The indicator assigned to the ministry was “enforcing contracts” –– a crucial factor among all key indicators keeping in view the complex legal problems in enforcement of such contracts which result in a large number of legal disputes while doing any kind of business in India. When compared to last year, India jumped from the 172th position to 164th this year on this index. Law ministry officials view this as a “substantial jump”.
“All other factors can only perform if they are based on solid legal framework. In the absence of a definite and determined set of framework no other factor can perform to the best of its ability,” said a senior law ministry official requesting anonymity.
The law ministry had held several meetings with different stakeholders to apprise them of the initiatives taken to improve India’s global ranking so that the concerned government officials are wellequipped to put forth the right perspective to the World Bank team about the reforms brought about by the government.
The first such meeting was held on March 15 at the Indian Law Institute (ILI, the second and third were held on April 27 and August 25 at Shastri Bhawan). All the meetings were chaired by Law Secretary Suresh Chandra and included lawyers and representatives from different ministries, departments and law firms.
A meeting was held on May 30 with representatives of the World Bank in which the Law Secretary apprised them of the government’s initiatives. The indicator of “enforcing contracts” measures the time and cost involved in resolving a commercial dispute through a local court while the quality of judicial processes index evaluates whether the economy has adopted a series of good practices that promote quality and efficiency in the court system.
“There are several areas which need further improvement but it would be fair to say that the reforms are on the right track and we are confident that next year’s World Bank report will witness further improvement in India’s position,” said another law ministry official.
One area where India’s legal reforms has bagged a good score in World Bank’s report is the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The Central government had been underlining the need to make India the hub of institutionalised arbitration. In this sector, India earned a score of 2.5 out of 3.
“So that disputes are settled amicably outside court, the government has introduced mediation and pretrial conference before approaching the court. Further, the government is proposing amendments for the establishment of commercial courts at the district level,” the law ministry official quoted above said.