D. S. C. Ventures Pvt. Ltd. v. Ministry of Road Transport and Railways, 2020.
Court: Delhi High Court
Coram: Hon'ble Mr. Justice C. Hari Shankar
Date of Judgement: 29th June 2020
Petitioner: D. S. C. Ventures Pvt. Ltd.
Respondent: Ministry of Road Transport and Railways
Facts of the Case:
- On 8th May 2003, a Concession Agreement was signed between the DSC Ventures Pvt. Ltd. and Ministry of Road Transport and Railways as per which the latter was responsible for conversion of an existing 2-lane road (National Highway 6) in the State of Chattisgarh to a highway of 4 lanes. Disputes between the parties arose but all possibilities of an amicable settlement were exhausted with no luck. As per the Concession Agreement, if efforts at resolution by the way of an amicable settlement fail then the dispute(s) were to resort to a three-member Arbitral Tribunal.
- On 30th June 2014, the learned Arbitral Tribunal commenced. On 23rd June 2018, the petitioner's arbitrator, Mr. B. P. Bhattacharya resigned citing health issues, while cross-examination of the respondent's witnesses was in progress. A retired Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Justice N. K. Mody was appointed. On 24th February 2020, unfortunately, the respondent's arbitrator, Mr. S. C. Sharma passed away. The aforementioned took place before the award was announced. The dispute at hand emerges due to the unfortunate demise.
- On 2nd March 2020, as the result of an internal meeting, the respondent was directed by the two surviving learned arbitrators to appoint its nominee arbitrator under Section 15 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
Issues of the Case:
The time for appointing a substitute arbitrator is 30 days as per Section 15 (2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 when read along with Section 11 (4) of the Act. The petitioner contended that the time of 30 days had passed and the respondent had not appointed its nominee arbitrator in the place of Mr. S. C. Sharma who is no more. The petitioner, under Section 11 (6) of the 1996 Act has moved the current petition to the Hon'ble High Court, praying that the Court should appoint a substitute arbitrator in place of Mr. S. C. Sharma. On 8th June 2020, during the pendency o the proceedings, the respondent appointed a retired Director General (Road Development), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Mr. Manoj Kumar in place of Mr. S. C. Sharma. The petitioner questions the legality of the appointment and prays that the Hon'ble High Court should appoint a substitute arbitrator.
The judgment of the Case:
- As per the Concession Agreement, a notice is to be given to the other party before the appointment of an arbitrator. The respondent failed to do the same but didn't deny to appointing an arbitrator. The Court found that the Petitioner is not entitled to plead confinement of the right of the respondent, to appoint a substitute arbitrator, to any specific time period, least of all a period of 30 days. No issuance of notice can't be taken as a waiver of the right to appoint a substitute arbitrator from the respondent's side.
- The Court held that the Respondent is guilty of unconscious delay and keeping in mind straitened circumstances (COVID - 19), the appointment of Mr. Manoj Kumar made of 8th June 2020 is valid. The petition was dismissed.
This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being.