NATIONAL HIGHWAYS AUTHORITY OF INDIA V/S SAYEDABAD TEA COMPANY LTD. AND ORS.
RELEVANT STATUTES: Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996; National Highways Act 1956
BRIEF FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
- The relevant facts are that the subject land comprised of “Sayedabad Tea Estate” situated at Mouza Purba Madati, J.L. No. 108, Police Station Phansidewa, Dist. Darjeeling measuring 5.08 acres was acquired by the appellant (National Highways Authority of India) in the exercise of its powers under Section 3(D) of the Act 1956 vide notification dated 22nd November 2005 under L.A.P. Case No. 4/200405 for the purpose of construction of the highways.
- The respondent applicant being dissatisfied with the award of compensation determined by the competent authority under subsection(1) of Section 3G of the Act, 1956 applied for the appointment of an Arbitrator in terms of Section 3G(5) to the Central Government on 8th December 2006.
- As alleged, since the Central Government has not responded to his request for appointment of an Arbitrator in terms of letter dated 8th December 2006 within a period of 30 days from receipt of the request, the application was filed on 7th March 2007 to the Chief Justice/his designate for the appointment of an Arbitrator invoking Section 11(6) of the Act, 1996.
- The High Court of Calcutta taking note of the fact that the Arbitrator has been appointed by the Central Government under Section 3G(5) of the Act, 1956 after the respondent applicant had moved an application to the Chief Justice/his Designate invoking its power under Section 11(6) of the Act, 1996 held that right of appointment of the Arbitrator by the Central Government stands forfeited as it failed to appoint the Arbitrator until the filing of the application under Section 11(6) of the Act, 1996 before the High Court of Calcutta and appointment of Arbitrator during the pendency of proceedings, cannot be said to be a valid appointment and hence referred the matter to be placed before the Chief Justice for naming an Arbitrator to vide its Order dated 6th July 2007.
- Getting the review application dismissed in the hon’ble high court of Calcutta, the appellant moved to the supreme court.
- Whether the application under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996is maintainable in view of Section 3G(5) of the National Highways Act, 1956 which provides for the appointment of an Arbitrator by the Central Government?
RATIO OF THE COURT:
- Vikas Goel, learned counsel for the appellant raised the argument that:
- The Act 1956 being a special enactment is a code in itself provide not only the procedure of acquisition but also the mode of determining compensation by the competent authority and any person is aggrieved by compensation determined under subsections( 1) or (2) of Section 3G of Act 1956 can certainly move an application for appointment of an Arbitrator to which a Central Government is under obligation to appoint under Section 3G(5) of the Act 1956.
- The Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the High Court of Calcutta was not holding its competence to appoint an Arbitrator invoking Section 11 of Act, 1996.
- The orders passed by the High Court dated 6th July 2007 and 27th August 2007 is hereby set aside. The Arbitrator may be appointed by the appellants in terms indicated above.