The Kerala High Court observed that no court can interfere in the appointment of the Sole Arbitrator.

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A single Judge Bench of the Kerala High court (“Court”) in the case of M/S VA Tech Wabag Ltd v. M/S Travancore Titanium Products Ltd, held that court cannot interfere in the appointment of the Arbitrator and in the case where the dispute between the parties has to be decided by the Arbitrator. It further observed that the court don’t have jurisdiction to entertain a writ petition against the order passed by the Arbitrator.

Facts

M/S VA tech Wabag Ltd, a Water Treatment Company entered into an agreement with M/S MECON Ltd, on the behalf of Travancore Titanium Products Ltd to set up 6 MLD Neutralisation plants with water recovery module at the plant of respondent in the year of 2006. Damage was caused to the Silo in the neutralisation plant installed by petitioner in 2017. There are two provisions regarding the appointment of the Arbitrator in the agreement, one in Article 11 of the Arbitrator and Conciliation Act, 1996 and other in Clause 6.24 of the General conditions of the Contract. After the damage, the respondent appointed a sole Arbitrator invoking Clause 6.24 of the contract. Petitioner filed a writ petition seeking to declare the appointment of the Arbitrator as untenable, the same was rejected on the ground that objection was not raised in the initial stage. The petitioner again filed writ petition before the Court.

Held

Whether the Court has jurisdiction to entertain writ petition to interpret the terms of the Agreement.

The Court relied on SBP & Co v. Patel Engineering Ltd (2000)8 SCC 618 and Perkins Eastman Architects DPC and Others v. HSCC (India) Ltd, AIR 2020 SC 59. The Court observed that the court cannot entertain the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution against the order passed by the Arbitrator and the question whether the parties acted in accordance of terms of agreement can be considered by the Arbitrator only not by the court.

Whether the Court can interfere in the appointment of a Sole arbitrator

The Court observed that the respondent being a Public Sector Undertaking, no public element is involved in the commercial contract. The appointment of a Sole Arbitrator is purely made on the basis of a commercial Contract entered by the parties. Therefore, the High Court held that the court cannot interfere in the appointment of the Sole arbitrator which doesn’t involve any element of public duty in the contract.

Read Judgment here.

By- Bhoomika Markam


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