Not Always Obligatory To Remit Matter To Arbitration Tribunal Merely Because A Party Filed Application U/s 34(4) Arbitration Act: Supreme Court

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Not Always Obligatory To Remit Matter To Arbitration Tribunal Merely Because A Party Filed Application U/s 34(4) Arbitration Act

Case: I-Pay Clearing Services Private Limited vs ICICI Bank Limited

Coram: Justices R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy

Case no.: CA 7 OF 2022

Court Observation: “When it prima facie appears that there is a patent illegality in the award itself, by not recording a finding on a contentious issue, in such cases, Court may not accede to the request of a party for giving an opportunity to the Arbitral Tribunal to resume the arbitral proceedings.”

Further, Section 34(4) of the Act itself makes it clear that it is the discretion vested with the Court for remitting the matter to Arbitral Tribunal to give an opportunity to resume the proceedings or not. The words “where it is appropriate” itself indicate that it is the discretion to be exercised by the Court, to remit the matter when requested by a party. When application is filed under Section 34(4) of the Act, the same is to be considered keeping in mind the grounds raised in the application under Section 34(1) of the Act by the party, who has questioned the award of the Arbitral Tribunal and the grounds raised in the application filed under Section 34(4) of the Act and the reply thereto. Merely because an application is filed under Section 34(4) of the Act by a party, it is not always obligatory on the part of the Court to remit the matter to Arbitral Tribunal. The discretionary power conferred under Section 34(4) of the Act, is to be exercised where there is inadequate reasoning or to fill up the gaps in the reasoning, in support of the findings which are already recorded in the award. Under guise of additional reasons and filling up the gaps in the reasoning, no award can be remitted to the Arbitrator, where there are no findings on the contentious issues in the award. If there are no findings on the contentious issues in the award or if any findings are recorded ignoring the material evidence on record, the same are acceptable grounds for setting aside the award itself.

Under guise of either additional reasons or filling up the gaps in the reasoning, the power conferred on the Court cannot be relegated to the Arbitrator. In absence of any finding on contentious issue, no amount of reasons can cure the defect in the award. A harmonious reading of Section 31, 34(1), 34(2A) and 34(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, make it clear that in appropriate cases, on the request made by a party, Court can give an opportunity to the arbitrator to resume the arbitral proceedings for giving reasons or to fill up the gaps in the reasoning in support of a finding, which is already rendered in the award. But at the same time, when it prima facie appears that there is a patent illegality in the award itself, by not recording a finding on a contentious issue, in such cases, Court may not accede to the request of a party for giving an opportunity to the Arbitral Tribunal to resume the arbitral proceedings. Further, as rightly contended by the learned counsel appearing for the respondent, that on the plea of ‘accord and satisfaction’ on further consideration of evidence, which is ignored earlier, even if the arbitral tribunal wants to consciously hold that there was ‘accord and satisfaction’ between the parties, it cannot do so by altering the award itself, which he has already passed.

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Keywords

Arbitration Tribunal, Arbitration Act, Tribunal


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