Did the Modi Government on Monday intend bringing in yet another ordinance — to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation law?

One would presume so, going by the speed with which the Government’s publicity machinery put out a release on the Press Information Bureau website soon after the Union Cabinet’s meeting. The release said the Cabinet had approved the arbitration ordinance.

But this release was withdrawn just as quickly, leaving hacks wondering about the ordinance. There was no official word till late evening on its fate.

It would be safe to assume that the Centre — which has come in for some criticism for unleashing an ‘Ordinance Raj’— is indeed looking to promulgate an ordinance to make India a hub of international commercial arbitration.

Going by the release (which was withdrawn), plans are to bring in changes to the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 to make arbitration user-friendly, cost-effective, and fast.

On the anvil are proposals to stipulate that an arbitrator would charge a composite fee for disposal of a case and not on the basis of per sitting or per hearing, as has been the practice. Also, on the cards is a provision that an application challenging an award must be disposed of by a court within a year.

The Law Commission had recommended several changes to the arbitration law to make India a hub for international commercial arbitration.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who briefed the media on Monday about the land acquisition ordinance, did not make any reference to the one on arbitration.