SEC 34 ARB

Chintels India Ltd v Bhayana Builders Pvt Ltd, SC 2021

The question raised in this appeal was that whether a learned single Judge’s order refusing to condone the Appellant’s delay in filing an application under section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act, 1996”) is an appealable order under section 37(1)(c) of the said Act.

The learned single Judge of the High Court dismissed the application for condonation of delay in an application filed under section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 to set aside an award and consequently dismissed the section 34 application itself.

Learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the Appellant, had relied strongly upon the judgment of Supreme Court in Essar Constructions v. N.P. Rama Krishna Reddy (2000) 6 SCC 94, which was a judgment delivered under section 39 of the Arbitration Act, 1940. His argument was that since section 39 of the 1940 Act is in pari materia with section 37 of the Arbitration Act, 1996, in that an appeal lies where a single Judge refuses to condone delay, resulting in an order refusing to set aside an arbitral award, the ratio of Essar Constructions (supra) would apply on all fours to the same provision contained in section 37.

The learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the Respondent, strongly refuted the fact that section 37 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 is in pari materia with section 39 of the 1940 Act. According to him, section 39 of the 1940 Act is materially different, and concerns itself with grounds that were made out under section 30 of the said Act, which grounds were completely different from the grounds that could be made out under section 34(2) and (2A) of the 1996 Act and thus argued that section 37 needs to be interpreted on its own terms.

The SC held that an appeal under section 37(1)(c) of the Arbitration Act, 1996 would be maintainable against an order refusing to condone delay in filing an application under section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 to set aside an award.

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