The Apex Court in the case of Chintels India Ltd. v. Bhayana Builders Pvt. Ltd., held that an appeal under section 37(1)(c) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 would be maintainable against an order refusing to condone the delay in applying section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 to set aside an award.
The Judge of the Delhi High Court, while hearing an appeal and refusing to condone Appellant’s delay in applying Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, is appealable under Section 37 (1)(c) of the said act.
While interpreting Section 37(1) (c), the Court took note of the fact that the expression “setting aside or refusing to set aside an arbitral award” has to be read with the phrase that follows – “under section 34”. Section 34 is not limited to grounds being made out under section 34(2).
According to Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, an application to set aside an arbitral award must follow both sub-section (2) and (3) of the said act. An application has to be within time, i.e., three months for the condonation of delay and further a period of 30 days. The Court made it clear that any delay beyond 120 days cannot be condoned.
“Obviously, therefore, a literal reading of the provision would show that a refusal to set aside an arbitral award as the delay has not been condoned under sub-section (3) of section 34 would certainly fall within section 37(1)(c). The aforesaid reasoning is strengthened by the fact that under section 37(2) (a), an appeal lies when a plea referred to in sub-section (2) or (3) of section 16 is accepted.”
Further, Section 37 (1) (a) states that when a party is referred to arbitration under Section 8, no appeal lies. Refusing to refer to parties under Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is made on the ground that no valid arbitration agreement exists between the parties or a duly certified copy is not annexed to Section 8 of the act.
“In either case, i.e. whether the preliminary ground for moving the court under section 8 is not made out either by not annexing the original arbitration agreement, or a duly certified copy, or on merits – the court finding that prima facie no valid agreement exists – an appeal lies under section 37(1)(a).”
The Court, hence, concluded,
“Undoubtedly, a limited right of appeal is given under section 37 of the Arbitration Act, 1996. But it is not the province or duty of this Court to further limit such right by excluding appeals which are in fact provided for, given the language of the provision as interpreted by us hereinabove.”
 2021 SCC OnLine SC 80.
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