Section 10: Number of arbitrators—
(1) The parties are free to determine the number of arbitrators, provided that such number shall not be an even number.
(2) Failing the determination referred to in sub-section (1), the arbitral tribunal shall consist of a sole arbitrator.
Section 11: Appointment of arbitrators—
(1) A person of any nationality may be an arbitrator, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
(2) Subject to sub-section (6), the parties are free to agree on a procedure for appointing the arbitrator or arbitrators.
(3) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (2), in an arbitration with three arbitrators, each party shall appoint one arbitrator, and the two appointed arbitrators shall appoint the third arbitrator who shall act as the presiding arbitrator.
(3-A) The Supreme Court and the High Court shall have the power to designate, arbitral institutions, from time to time, which have been graded by the Council under section 43-I, for the purposes of this Act:
Provided that in respect of those High Court jurisdictions, where no graded arbitral institution are available, then, the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court may maintain a panel of arbitrators for discharging the functions and duties of arbitral institution and any reference to the arbitrator shall be deemed to be an arbitral institution for the purposes of this section and the arbitrator appointed by a party shall be entitled to such fee at the rate as specified in the Fourth Schedule:
Provided further that the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court may, from time to time, review the panel of arbitrators.
(4) If the appointment procedure in sub-section (3) applies and—
(a) a party fails to appoint an arbitrator within thirty days from the receipt of a request to do so from the other party; or
(b) the two appointed arbitrators fail to agree on the third arbitrator within thirty days from the date of their appointment,
the appointment shall be made, on an application of the party, by the arbitral institution designated by the Supreme Court, in case of international commercial arbitration, or by the High Court, in case of arbitrations other than international commercial arbitration, as the case may be.
(5) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (2), in an arbitration with a sole arbitrator, if the parties fail to agree on the arbitrator within thirty days from receipt of a request by one party from the other party to so agree the appointment shall be made on an application of the party in accordance with the provisions contained in sub-section (4).
(6) Where, under an appointment procedure agreed upon by the parties,—
(a) a party fails to act as required under that procedure; or
(b) the parties, or the two appointed arbitrators, fail to reach an agreement expected of them under that procedure; or
(c) a person, including an institution, fails to perform any function entrusted to him or it under that procedure,
the appointment shall be made, on an application of the party, by the arbitral institution designated by the Supreme Court, in case of international commercial arbitration, or by the High Court, in case of arbitrations other than international commercial arbitration, as the case may be] to take the necessary measure, unless the agreement on the appointment procedure provides other means for securing the appointment.
(6-B) The designation of any person or institution by the Supreme Court or, as the case may be, the High Court, for the purposes of this section shall not be regarded as a delegation of judicial power by the Supreme Court or the High Court.
(8) The arbitral institution referred to in sub-sections (4), (5) and (6), before appointing an arbitrator, shall seek a disclosure in writing from the prospective arbitrator in terms of sub-section (1) of Section 12, and have due regard to—
(a) any qualifications required for the arbitrator by the agreement of the parties; and
(b) the contents of the disclosure and other considerations as are likely to secure the appointment of an independent and impartial arbitrator.
(9) In the case of appointment of sole or third arbitrator in an international commercial arbitration, the arbitral institution designated by the Supreme Court] may appoint an arbitrator of a nationality other than the nationalities of the parties where the parties belong to different nationalities.
(11) Where more than one request has been made under sub-section (4) or sub-section (5) or sub-section (6) to different arbitral institutions, the arbitral institution to which the request has been first made under the relevant sub-section shall be competent to appoint.
(12) Where the matter referred to in sub-sections (4), (5), (6) and (8) arise in an international commercial arbitration or any other arbitration, the reference to the arbitral institution in those sub-sections shall be construed as a reference to the arbitral institution designated under sub-section (3-A).
(13) An application made under this section for appointment of an arbitrator or arbitrators shall be disposed of by the arbitral institution within a period of thirty days from the date of service of notice on the opposite party.
(14) The arbitral institution shall determine the fees of the arbitral tribunal and the manner of its payment to the arbitral tribunal subject to the rates specified in the Fourth Schedule.
Explanation.—For the removal of doubts, it is hereby clarified that this sub-section shall not apply to international commercial arbitration and in arbitrations (other than international commercial arbitration) where parties have agreed for determination of fees as per the rules of an arbitral institution.
Section 11-A: Power of Central Government to amend Fourth Schedule—
(1) If the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, amend the Fourth Schedule and thereupon the Fourth Schedule shall be deemed to have been amended accordingly.
(2) A copy of every notification proposed to be issued under sub-section (1), shall be laid in draft before each House of Parliament, while it is in session, for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in disapproving the issue of the notification or both Houses agree in making any modification in the notification, the notification shall not be issued or as the case may be, shall be issued only in such modified form as may be agreed upon by the both Houses of Parliament.
Section 12: Grounds for challenge—
(1) When a person is approached in connection with his possible appointment as an arbitrator, he shall disclose in writing any circumstances,—
(a) such as the existence either direct or indirect, of any past or present relationship with or interest in any of the parties or in relation to the subject matter in dispute, whether financial, business, professional or other kind, which is likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his independence or impartiality; and
(b) which are likely to affect his ability to devote sufficient time to the arbitration and in particular his ability to complete the entire arbitration within a period of twelve months.
Explanation 1.—The grounds stated in the Fifth Schedule shall guide in determining whether circumstances exist which give rise to justifiable doubts as to the independence or impartiality of an arbitrator.
Explanation 2.—The disclosure shall be made by such person in the form specified in the Sixth Schedule.
(2) An arbitrator, from the time of his appointment and throughout the arbitral proceedings, shall, without delay, disclose to the parties in writing any circumstances referred to in sub-section (1) unless they have already been informed of them by him.
(3) An arbitrator may be challenged only if—
(a) circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubts as to his independence or impartiality; or
(b) he does not possess the qualifications agreed to by the parties.
(4) A party may challenge an arbitrator appointed by him, or in whose appointment he has participated, only for reasons of which he becomes aware after the appointment has been made.
(5) Notwithstanding any prior agreement to the contrary, any person whose relationship, with the parties or counsel or the subject matter of the dispute, falls under any of the categories specified in the Seventh Schedule shall be ineligible to be appointed as an arbitrator:
Provided that parties may, subsequent to disputes having arisen between them, waive the applicability of this sub-section by an express agreement in writing.
Section 13: Challenge procedure—
(1) Subject to sub-section (4), the parties are free to agree on a procedure for challenging an arbitrator.
(2) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (1), a party who intends to challenge an arbitrator shall, within fifteen days after becoming aware of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or after becoming aware of any circumstances referred to in sub-section (3) of Section 12, send a written statement of the reasons for the challenge to the arbitral tribunal.
(3) Unless the arbitrator challenged under sub-section (2) withdraws from his office or the other party agrees to the challenge, the arbitral tribunal shall decide on the challenge.
(4) If a challenge under any procedure agreed upon by the parties or under the procedure under sub-section (2) is not successful, the arbitral tribunal shall continue the arbitral proceedings and make an arbitral award.
(5) Where an arbitral award is made under sub-section (4), the party challenging the arbitrator may make an application for setting aside such an arbitral award in accordance with Section 34.
(6) Where an arbitral award is set aside on an application made under sub-section (5), the Court may decide as to whether the arbitrator who is challenged is entitled to any fees.
Section 14: Failure or impossibility to act—
(1) The mandate of an arbitrator shall terminate and he shall be substituted by another arbitrator, if—
(a) he becomes de jure or de facto unable to perform his functions or for other reasons fails to act without undue delay; and
(b) he withdraws from his office or the parties agree to the termination of his mandate.
(2) If a controversy remains concerning any of the grounds referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (1), a party may, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, apply to the Court to decide on the termination of the mandate.
(3) If, under this section or sub-section (3) of Section 13, an arbitrator withdraws from his office or a party agrees to the termination of the mandate of an arbitrator, it shall not imply acceptance of the validity of any ground referred to in this section or sub-section (3) of Section 12.
Section 15: Termination of mandate and substitution of arbitrator—
(1) In addition to the circumstances referred to in Section 13 or Section 14, the mandate of an arbitrator shall terminate—
(a) where he withdraws from office for any reason; or
(b) by or pursuant to agreement of the parties.
(2) Where the mandate of an arbitrator terminates, a substitute arbitrator shall be appointed according to the rules that were applicable to the appointment of the arbitrator being replaced.
(3) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, where an arbitrator is replaced under sub-section (2), any hearings previously held may be repeated at the discretion of the arbitral tribunal.
(4) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, an order or ruling of the arbitral tribunal made prior to the replacement of an arbitrator under this section shall not be invalid solely because there has been a change in the composition of the arbitral tribunal.
IMPORTANT CASE LAWS
1. Impact on Arbitration in case of even number of arbitrators
M.M.T.C. Ltd. v. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., (1996) 6 SCC 716: “…..There is nothing in Section 7 to indicate the requirement of the number of arbitrators as a part of the arbitration agreement. Thus the validity of an arbitration agreement does not depend on the number of arbitrators specified therein. The number of arbitrators is dealt with separately in Section 10 which is a part of machinery provision for the working of the arbitration agreement. It is, therefore, clear that an arbitration agreement specifying an even number of arbitrators cannot be a ground to render the arbitration agreement invalid under the New Act….”
2. Mechanism for appointment of Arbitrator
M.M.T.C. Ltd. v. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., (1996) 6 SCC 716: “The arbitration clause provides that each party shall nominate one arbitrator and the two arbitrators shall then appoint an umpire before proceeding with the reference. The arbitration agreement is valid as it satisfies the requirement of Section 7 of the New Act. Section 11(3) requires the two arbitrators to appoint the third arbitrator or the umpire. There can be no doubt that the arbitration agreement in the present case accords with the implied condition contained in para 2 of the First Schedule to the Arbitration Act, 1940 requiring the two arbitrators, one each appointed by the two sides, to appoint an umpire not later than one month from the latest date of their respective appointments.”