Act enacted nearly 8 months back, Commercial Courts yet to be set up

Govt delaying decision despite furnishing of data by HC
Improving Ease of Doing Business ranking too facing hurdle

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, May 4: Even nearly eight months after the enactment of law the Government has failed to establish Commercial Courts in Jammu and Kashmir, which otherwise are imperative to ensure timely redressal of disputes. The delay is notwithstanding the fact that High Court has already furnished relevant information to the concerned authorities in the administration.
In order to adjudicate the commercial disputes in a speedy and time bound manner keeping in view boosting commercial activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs drafted Jammu and Kashmir Commercial Courts Bill last year and placed the same before the State Administrative Council on September 18, 2018 for approval.
The State Administrative Council, after thorough discussion, accorded sanction to the Bill and it was officially announced that initially there will be two Commercial Courts, one each in Srinagar and Jammu and the step will go a long way in bringing down the time taken in resolution of commercial disputes and further improving J&K’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business. Thereafter, Governor Satya Pal Malik gave assent to the same on September 26, 2019 in exercise of the powers vested under Proclamation No. P-1/18 dated June 20, 2018.
It is pertinent to mention here that timely resolution of commercial disputes is also linked with improving Ease of Doing Business ranking. This index inter alia refers to the dispute resolution environment which facilitates the investors in deciding for setting up of and operation of a business.
Soon after the enactment of Act, the State High Court started detailed exercise to ascertain the number of commercial disputes pending in courts across the State and accordingly relevant information was furnished to the State Government in order to facilitate the concerned authorities in taking final decision about the number of Commercial Courts required to be established in the State, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
However, even eight months after the enactment of Act, no formal decision has been taken about establishment of Commercial Courts in the State, they said, adding Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, which has already discussed the issue at highest forum, is awaiting formal nod for setting into motion the process for establishment of such courts.
Due to this, the objective behind the decision of the State Administrative Council could not be achieved till date and timely disposal of commercial disputes has remained a distant dream, sources said.
Though no formal decision on total number of Commercial Courts has so far been taken yet High Court wants at least one such court in Jammu and Srinagar and designation of relevant courts at district level to be the Commercial Courts, sources further informed.
The Act states: “The Government, may, after consultation with the High Court, by notification constitute or designate such number of Commercial Courts at district or divisional level as it may deem necessary for the purpose of exercising the jurisdiction and powers conferred on those courts”.
“The Government shall, after consultation, with the High Court specify, by notification, the local limits of the area to which the jurisdiction of a Commercial Court shall extend and may, from time to time, increase or reduce or alter such limits. Moreover, the Government may, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, appoint one or more persons having experience in dealing with the commercial disputes to be the Judge of a Commercial Court either at the level of District Judge or a court below the level of a District Judge”, the Act further states.
Following establishment of Commercial Courts all the suits and applications including applications under the Jammu and Kashmir Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1997, relating to commercial disputes of a specified value pending in any civil court in any district shall be transferred to Commercial Courts as this aspect has clearly been defined in the Act.
The disputes which Commercial Courts will handle include those arising out of ordinary transactions of merchants, bankers, financiers and traders; export or import of merchandize or services; issues relating to admiralty and maritime law; carriage of goods; construction and infrastructure contracts including tenders; agreements relating to immovable property used exclusively in trade or commerce; joint venture and partnership agreements; intellectual property rights relating to registered and unregistered trademarks, copyright, patent, design, domain names, geographical indications etc.