An Anti-Arbitration Injunction (AAI) is an injunction granted by courts to restrain parties or an arbitral tribunal from either commencing or continuing with the arbitration proceedings. An anti-arbitration injunction can be sought at three stages i.e., before the commencement of arbitration, during the arbitration hearing, or after the hearing but before the rendering of the final award.

The grant of an anti-arbitration injunction can be seen to be contrary to the cardinal principle of arbitration, i.e. the rule of Kompetenz-Kompetenz. This rule is embodied in Section 16 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996and it allows the arbitral tribunal alone to rule on its jurisdiction and decide any issue regarding the existence and validity of the arbitration agreement. This is read along with Section 5 of the Act, which does not allow any judicial authority to intervene in matters governed by the Act except where so provided in the statute.

However, the courts, on a few occasions, have assumed jurisdiction under Section 9and Section 45 of the Act to grant anti-arbitration injunctions. Section 9 empowers the court to grant interim remedies to parties before or during the arbitral proceedings. Similarly, Section 45 of the Act provides certain powers to the court to interfere with proceeding in foreign arbitrations if the arbitration agreement between the parties is null and void or inoperative or incapable of being performed.


The earliest decision concerning the anti-arbitration injunction is that of Kvaerner Cementation India Limited v. Bajranglal Agarwal.[1] The Supreme Court relied on Sections 16 and 5 and refused to grant an anti-arbitration injunction. In this case, the court stated that a civil court does not have jurisdiction to determine any objection with respect to the existence or validity of an arbitration agreement.

This case came to be a significant precedent set by the Supreme Court in matters of anti-arbitration injunctions. Kvaerner Cementation has been upheld by the Supreme Court in A. Ayyasamy v. A. Paramasivam and Ors.[2]wherein it was held that the civil court shall not have any jurisdiction to adjudicate if the arbitration proceedings had already begun before filing such suit before the court. Thus, again anti-arbitration injunction was not granted.

However, there is another set of case laws that have affirmed the jurisdiction of civil courts to grant anti-arbitration injunctions under limited or exceptional circumstances. The primary case in this regard was SBP & Co. v. Patel Engineering[3]where the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the arbitral tribunal solely has the competence to determine its jurisdiction. The court held that the civil courts cannot be excluded from determining the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal.

Subsequently, the Apex Court in Chatterjee Petrochem Company and Anr. v. Haldia Petrochemicals Limited[4] reaffirmed the jurisdiction of civil courts to grant anti-arbitration injunctions. Soon after this case, the Supreme Court in World Sport Group (Mauritius) Ltd. v. MSM Satellite[5] held that a civil court has inherent jurisdiction under Section 9of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, to try all suits of civil nature unless expressly or impliedly barred by the law. The court in this case also stated that in the absence of any such bar on the maintainability of anti-arbitration suit, suits seeking injunctions in restraint of arbitration are indeed maintainable.

However, a bare reading in all these cases would reveal that the anti-arbitration injunction was granted only when the arbitration agreement was void, inoperative, or incapable of being performed; the proceedings were oppressive or vexatious, or there was an abuse of legal process.

Regardless, the Supreme Courts and High Courts have time and again upheld the policy of minimal interference in arbitration matters. In the matter of Ravi Arya & Ors v. Palmview Overseas Limited,[6] the Bombay High Court observed that once the matter is before the arbitral tribunal, the Civil Court cannot entertain any proceedings seeking an injunction against the arbitral tribunal during arbitration proceedings.

Similarly, the Delhi High Court in Himachal Sorang Power Private Limited v. NCC Infrastructure Holdings Limited[7] rejected the application seeking an anti-arbitration injunction and laid down the following parameters governing anti-arbitration injunction:

  1. “The principles governing anti-suit injunction are not identical to those that govern an anti-arbitration injunction.
  2. Courts are slow in granting an anti-arbitration injunction unless it concludes that the proceeding initiated is vexatious and/or oppressive.
  3. The fact that in the assessment of the Court a trial would be required would be a factor that would weigh against the grant of anti-arbitration injunction.
  4. The aggrieved should be encouraged to approach either the Arbitral Tribunal or the Court which has the supervisory jurisdiction in the matter. An endeavor should be made to support and aid arbitration rather than allow parties to move away from the chosen adjudicatory process.”

More recently, the case of Bina Modi & Ors v. Lalit Modi & Ors[8] has regenerated an uproar in granting anti-arbitration injunctions.

The case emerged with the Modi family forming a trust for the maintenance of family assets and property. A conflict emerged between the trustees within a trust deed dated 9th April 2014. One of the trustees, Lalit Modi, filed an application seeking emergency measures against the other trustees before the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. The other trustees filed anti-arbitration injunction suits before the Court, demanding a declaration that the arbitration proceedings are inapplicable and contradictory to India’s public policy.

In March 2020, the High Court declined to grant the anti-arbitration injunction based on the reasoning that courts cannot rule on the validity or existence of an arbitration agreement unless there is a “substantive action” brought before the Court under Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996. Another reason provided was that since an equally efficacious remedy was available by the application of the Kompetenz-Kompetenz principle, it did not warrant any interference by the Court.

The Calcutta High Court went a step further in the case of Balasore Alloys Limited v. Medima LLC[9]which dealt with the question that whether the arbitration seat was in India, or the United Kingdom’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The High Court held that the Courts in India have the power to grant anti-arbitration injunctions against foreign seated arbitrations; however, this power should be used sparingly and with caution.


Given the contentious existence of the anti-arbitration injunctions, the approach taken by the courts in the recent cases has been progressive and is in the direction of a pro-arbitration regime.

The stand taken by the courts in the grant of anti-arbitration injunctions in domestic arbitrations has preserved the sanctity of the arbitral process and has ensured that the trust of people in the arbitration process is not adversely affected. With the coming of the Bina Modi case and the Balasore Alloys Limited case, it is evident that the court is open to broadening the scope of not granting anti-arbitration injunctions and promoted minimal

[1] (2012) 5 SCC 214.

[2] (2016) 10 SCC 386.

[3] (2005) 8 SCC 618.

[4](2014) 14 SCC 574.

[5](2014) 11 SCC 639.

[6]2019 SCC OnLine Bom 251.

[7]2019 SCC Online Del 7575.

[8]2020 SCC OnLine Del 901.

[9] (2020) 9 SCC 136.


The doctrine of Kompetenz-Kompetenz (German for ‘competence-competence’) is a widely accepted feature of modern arbitration law. This doctrine lays down the ability of the arbitral tribunal to decide whether it can hear a case on its own jurisdictionwithout the interference of courts. In other words, this doctrine states that the Arbitral Tribunal has the ‘competence’ to decide its own ‘competence’. The rationale is to ensure the speedy settlement of disputes as the doctrine allows the arbitral tribunal to settle pleas relating to jurisdiction,at the beginning itself.

This principle has been widely recognized and accepted in several international arbitration institutions. The UNCITRAL Model Law upholds this principle in Article 23(1) of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, 2013. The article perspicuously states that “The arbitral tribunal shall have the power to rule on its own jurisdiction, including any objections with respect to the existence or validity of the arbitration agreement”. The same approach has been taken by many other arbitral institutions as well. These are mostly those institutions that are based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.
The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has also incorporated the Kompetenz-Kompetenz principle in the SIAC Rules. Article 28.2 envisages the same wordings as that of Article 23.1 of the Model Law. In 2015, the Singapore High Court reiterated the importance of theKompetenz-Kompetenz principle in the case of Malini Ventura v. Knight Capital Pvt Ltd &Ors. In this case the court considered whether it is a matter for the arbitral tribunal to decide if the very existence of an arbitration agreement is in question for which the court held in the affirmative. This case re-emphasised the Singapore courts adherence to the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz, such that the tribunal will be given the first say over questions regarding its jurisdiction.
The Kompetenz-Kompetenz principle has also been adhered to by the Swiss Chambers Arbitration Institution (SCAI) in Article 21.1 of the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration. Recently, in its decision published on 2ndNovember 2020, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court upheld an arbitral award referring to the widely recognized principle in international arbitration of Kompetenz-Kompetenz. The Supreme Court also reminded that challenging the validity or existence of an agreement on arbitration does not prevent the arbitral tribunal from arbitration proceedings and issuing an award. Rather, the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenzallows the arbitral tribunal to come to a decision on their own jurisdiction before any state court has rendered its decision in that regard.
In addition to these Rules, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) have also recognized the principle under Article 19.1 and Article 23.1 in their respective rules.

In Indian law, this principle is enshrined in Section 16 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. This section states that the arbitral tribunal is allowed to rule on its own jurisdiction. In 2015, an amendment was made in the 1996 Act. The result of this Amendment was that it effectively broadened the horizons of Section 16. Issues such as limitation, accord and satisfaction have now been included under the purview of Section 16. Therefore, if a party wishes to challenge the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal, it has to prefer an application under Section 16 of The Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996.
Section 16 places a limit on the time after which a party to the arbitration proceedings may make a plea before the tribunal alleging that the tribunal has no jurisdiction. Section 16(2) states that such a plea shall not be raised after the submission of the statement of defence. A plea alleging that the tribunal has exceeded the scope of its authority must be raised as soon as the matter alleged to be beyond the tribunal’s scope of jurisdiction is raised during the proceedings. The Supreme Court clarified in Olympus Superstructure Pvt. Ltd. v. Meena Vijay Khetan that the use of the words “as soon as” and “no later than” in the provision show that such a plea must be taken without undue delay. However, the tribunal is competent to admit a plea as mentioned above if it considers that the reason for the delay in submitting a plea is justified.

Section 16 has, on many occasions, been interpreted with a reference to Section 11 of the Act which talks about the appointment of arbitrators. The first time Section 16 was interpreted along with Section 11 was in the year 2005 in the case of SBP & Co. v. Patel Engineering. In this case, the Supreme Court had,in fact,undermined the doctrine of Kompetenz-Kompetenz. The Court held, “Where the jurisdictional issues are decided under Section 11, before a reference is made, Section 16 cannot be held to empower the arbitral tribunal to ignore the decision given by the judicial authority or the Chief Justice before the reference to it was made”. This judgment was followed by heavy criticism since it diluted the power of the arbitral tribunal mentioned under Section 16.
In the case of Indian Farmers Fertilizers Cooperative Limited v. Bhadra Products, the Supreme Court had interpreted the contours of Section 16 in detail. The issue, in this case, was whether limitation is a jurisdictional issue within the ambit of the arbitral tribunal or it is an issue that is to be separately adjudicated by the tribunal at later stages. The Supreme Court held that the issue of limitation is not a jurisdictional issue to be decided under Section 16 of the Act. The Court further held that an order passed on the issue of limitation by the arbitral tribunal is to be construed as an interim award subject to appeal under Section 34 of the Act.
Since then, the Supreme Court has been accepting the Kompetenz-Kompetenz principle. In Surender Kumar Singhal v. Arun Kumar Bhalotia, the court interpreted the law governing applications under Section 16 of the Act and referred to the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz. The court held that under Section 16 of the Arbitration Act the issues of jurisdiction ought to be raised before the Arbitrator at the earliest and such objection has to be decided as a preliminary ground. If the tribunal then thinks fit that the objections under Section 16 cannot be decided at the inception and further enquiry is required, the tribunal could consider framing a preliminary issue and deciding the same as soon as possible.
On November 27, 2019, the Supreme Court in Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. v. Northern Coal Field Ltd. analysed Section 16 along with the doctrine of Kompetenz¬-Kompetenz. In this regard the court stated that the doctrine of Kompetenz¬-Kompetenz issubject to the exception i.e., when an arbitration agreement itself is faulty as being procured by fraud or deception. The Apex Court while discussing the judgment of Indian Farmers Fertilizers Cooperative Ltd. v. Bhadra Products held that the issue of limitation being a jurisdictional issue and the same has to be decided by the tribunal under Section 16 of the Act.
This decision of the Supreme Court was relied upon by the Bombay High Court in the case of C. Shamsuddin v. Now Realty Ventures LLP and Ors., wherein it was held that the question of limitation will be kept open for decision by only the arbitral tribunal under Section 16 of the Act.

Thus, the doctrine of Kompetenz-Kompetenz has the underlying object to minimize judicial interventions in the arbitration process. The importance of Section 16 is paramount as it demonstrates the faith that is reposed in the authority of the arbitral tribunals. When arbitral tribunals are allowed to rule on their own jurisdiction, it not only brings ease in the arbitration process but also enhances the confidence of the parties towards this mechanism for resolving disputes. The doctrine has been recognized in all international institutions and it has been strengthened by the Supreme Court of India over the years which reaffirms its position in India.


In a recent decision rendered by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in IRB Ahmedabad Vadodara super express Toll way Private Limited vs. National Highways Authority of India, the Hon’ble High court interpreted arbitration rules of the Society for affordable redressal of disputes (herein after referred to as “SAROD”) pertaining to a dispute between two nominated arbitrators regarding appointment of the presiding arbitrator. The Hon’ble court also returned findings as to when a petition under Section 11(6)(b) of the Act1 be filed in the High Court.


IRB Ahmedabad Vadodara super express Toll way Private Limited (herein after referred to as the “Petitioner”)entered into an agreement with the National Highways Authority of India(herein after referred to as the “Respondent”) for conversion of NH-8 between Ahmedabad and Vadodara into a six-lane highway. In the initial agreement, it was agreed upon between the parties that any dispute arising between them shall be resolved by way of arbitration, which was to be governed by rules of arbitration framed by International Centre for Alternative Disputes Resolution. On 14.07.2014, both the parties entered into a supplementary agreement, whereby, it was agreed upon that in case of any dispute, the arbitration shall be governed by the arbitration rules framed by SAROD and the appointment of presiding arbitrator shall be governed by Rule 11.2 of the SAROD rules2 , and thus the earlier provisions in the main agreement were modified accordingly. In 2019, when disputes arose between the parties, the Petitioner invoked arbitration and both parties nominated one arbitrator each. However, when both the nominated arbitrators failed to appoint the presiding arbitrator, the Petitioner filed the petition under Section 11(6) (b) of the Actby urging that the procedure agreed upon between the parties for appointment of the presiding arbitrator had failed.


The contentions raised by the Petitioner were three-fold; first, that since the supplementary agreement specifically provides for the appointment of the presiding arbitrator in accordance with Rule 11.23, the Respondent cannot resort to any other rule, to enable the Governing Body to make such an appointment, secondly, that since the procedure assented to by both the parties for the appointment of the presiding arbitrator had failed, there was no other alternative, than to invoke Section 11(6) (b) of the Act4 , thirdly, that since the procedure consented to, for appointment of the presiding arbitrator has stalled, the presiding arbitrator need not be from the SAROD panel, as the Governing Body has key officials as employees of the Respondent and the earlier panel having 177 names from all fields has been curtailed now to just 33, out of which just 4 arbitrators were legally trained.

Per contra, the Respondent argued that the rules should be construed harmoniously and Rule 11.25 cannot be read in isolation from the other rules and since the procedure prescribed in Rule 11.26 had yielded no result, it was appropriate to invoke Rule 11.57 that provides for the Governing Body to appoint the presiding arbitrator and since the Governing Body was yet to do so, the procedure agreed upon for the appointment of the presiding arbitrator had not yet failed and thus, the petition was premature and warranted dismissal. The Respondent assured the court that the procedure that is in place to enable the Governing Body to make the appointment is free from any partiality and is done by way of draw of lots and moreover, the apprehensions of bias raised by the Petitioner were baseless, since, the reduction in the number of arbitrators on the panel was on account of their terms of empanelment coming to an end on 30.05.2020 and not in any manner intentional.


The Hon’ble High Court agreed with the argument raised by the Respondent, to hold that in general, the Rules had to be read conjointly, meaning thereby, that Rule 11.28 had to be read in coherence with Rule 11.59 and the two cannot be said to be independent of each other. However, the court further held that each petition would have to be decided in its own facts and circumstances, and since in the instant case, in the supplementary agreement, the parties specifically and explicitly confined the procedure of appointment of the presiding arbitrator exclusively to Rule 11.210 , no resort could be made to Rule 11.511 and thus, the Governing Body12 could not make the appointment. Furthermore, the court also held that since only Rule 11.2 was applicable in the instant case, and the procedure prescribed therein had admittedly flunked, the petition could not be said to be premature and filing of the said petition was the only resort available to the petitioner. In holding this, the Hon’ble High Court placed reliance upon the judgments of the Hon’ble apex court in Voestalpine Schienen GMBH vs. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited13, National Highways Authority of India vs. Bumihiway D.D.B Ltd14 and Central Organisation for Railway Electrification vs. ECI-SPIC-SMO MCML15. Lastly, the Hon’ble High court held that since the procedure agreed upon for the appointment of the presiding arbitrator had failed, there is no reason to restrict the appointment to an arbitrator from the present panel maintained by SAROD. The court held that since the number of arbitrators on the panel had been drastically reduced from 177 to 33, that too with only four members having legal training, the choice for the appointment of the presiding arbitrator cannot be restricted to the 33 members on the panel and thus, the appointment be made of a person from legal background from the erstwhile panel of 177 arbitrators maintained by SAROD. In holding this, the court emphatically placed reliance upon the decision of a coordinate bench of the Delhi High Court in Bernard Ingenieure ZT-GMBH vs. IRCON International Ltd16 and a judgment of the Supreme Court in Perkins Eastman Architects DPC & Another vs. HSCC(India) Limited17.


The Judgment of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the instant case is ambiguous to say the least. On one hand the court accepts the arguments advanced by the Respondent, to go on to hold that Rule 11.218 and Rule 11.519 have to be read concertedly, leading to the inference that once the nominated arbitrators fail to reach a consensus on the appointment of the presiding arbitrator, the Governing Body shall have the authority to make such appointment by virtue of Rule 11.520, despite the absence of such direct stipulation in the said rule. However, on the other hand, on an application of the said principle to the instant case, the court holds that since the parties had categorically agreed to make only Rule 11.221 applicable to the appointment of the presiding arbitrator, Rule 11.522 shall have no application at all. These findings, are not only self-contradictory, but also lay down a bad precedent that says that even if otherwise, a set of rules or a particular statute is to be read as a whole in order for its application, if two parties agree to make just one rule/section applicable to their agreement,they can exclude the other provisions at their whim. This is not only against the settled position of law, but also does not fare well with the logic of a prudent man. Furthermore, the Hon’ble court went on to hold that the appointment of the presiding arbitrator should be done from the panel earlier maintained by the SAROD having 177 members and not from the present panel. This finding by the court only leads to the conclusion that the agreement between the parties, whereby they agreed to appoint the presiding arbitrator from amongst the panel maintained by SAROD has been rendered meaningless and the Hon’ble High Court chose the presiding arbitrator from amongst members whose terms of empanelment had already expired, thus eventually changing the terms of appointment unilaterally and against the decision rendered by the Supreme Court in Perkins Eastman23. On a bare perusal of the said findings, it becomes apparent that the Hon’ble court was in the throes of a legal conflict, torn between deciding on principles and eventually bowing to the exigencies as depicted by the Petitioner.


The judgment rendered by the Hon’ble High court in the instant case would sooner or later need reconsideration, as the precedent that it sets would lead to a chaotic end to many more cases. The case law referred to by the Hon’ble court has not been properly appreciated and the interpretation of the SAROD rules is vague and delusionary. At a time when the field of arbitration is craving more than ever for seminal judgments to enhance its scope, the judgment in the instant case can be safely termed as obscure.


1Section 11(6) (b) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996,
Where, under an appointment procedure agreed upon by the parties:-

  • (a) A party fails to act as required under that procedure; or
  • (b) The parties, or the two appointed arbitrators, fail to reach an agreement expected of them under that procedure; or
  • (c) A person, including an institution, fails to perform any function entrusted to him or it under that procedure,

A party request [the Supreme Court or, as the case may be, the High Court or any person or institution designated by such Court] to take the necessary measure, unless the agreement on the appointment procedure provides other means for securing the appointment.
2Rule 11.2 of SAROD- In all cases of disputes claimed for more than Rs. 3 Crores, the tribunal shall consist of add number of Arbitrators to be nominated by the parties. The presiding Arbitrator shall be appointed by the Arbitrators nominated by the parties from amongst the panel maintained by SAROD. For deciding the Presiding Arbitrator, a draw of lots can be carried out from amongst the names suggested by the Arbitrators nominated by the parties. The eligibility criteria for empanelment of Arbitrators will be decided by the Governing Body.
4The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
5Supra 2.
7Rule 11.5 of SAROD- In the event of any party failing to appoint Arbitrator within 30 days of receipt the notice of Arbitration, the Governing Body shall appoint the Arbitrator or Presiding Arbitrator as the case may be by draw of lots.
8Supra 2.
9Supra 7.
10Supra 2.
11Supra 7.
12“Governing Body” means Governing Body of SAROD as defined in Article 9 of Memorandum of Association.
13Voestalpine Schienen GMBH vs Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited, (2017) 4 SCC 665.
14National Highways Authority of India vs Bumihiway D.D.B Ltd, (2006) 10 SCC 763
15Central Organisation for Railway Electrification vs ECI-SPIC-SMO MCML, 2019 SCC Online SC 1635
16>Bernard Ingenieure ZT-GMBH vs IRCON International Ltd., 2018 SCC Online Delhi 7941.
17Perkins Eastman Architects DPC & Another vs HSCC (India) Limited, 2019 SCC Online 1517.
18Supra 2.
19Supra 7.
20Supra 7.
21Supra 2.
22Supra 7.
23Perkins Eastman Architects DPC & Another vs HSCC (India) Limited, 2019 SCC Online 1517.



The case (Perkins Eastman Architects DPC & Anr. v. HSCC (India) Ltd.) revolves around the appointment of arbitrator under section 11(6) read with section 11(12)a of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act in accordance with clause of the Contract entered into between the parties and the sole arbitrator so appointed may adjudicate the disputes and differences between the parties arising from the contract.


The respondent was desirous of comprehensive architectural planning and designing. Therefore, a request for a proposal for appointment of Design Consultant was proposed for All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Andhra Pradesh.

Perkins Eastman Architects DPC, an Architectural firm submitted their bid. Letter of Intent was issued in favour of the firm and a contract was entered into between the parties.

As per the arbitration clause, in case of any disputes the Design Consultant shall request (Chief General Manager) CGM, HSCC in writing for written instruction or decision. If the Design Consultant(s) is dissatisfied with the instructions or decision of the CGM, HSCC, the Design Consultants(s) may appeal to the Director (Engg.) HSCC and if the Design Consultant is still dissatisfied with the decision he shall give notice to the CMD, HSCC for the appointment of sole arbitrator.

In this case within six days of the signing of the said contract the respondent alleged failure on part of the Applicants which was followed by stop work notice i.e. the respondents were deliberately trying to stall the project and were non-co-operative right from the initial stages.

Later, a termination notice was issued by the respondent alleging non-compliance of contractual obligations on the part of the applicants and termination letter was issued.  Notice was issued invoking the dispute resolution clause.

An appeal was filed by the Applicants before the Director (Engineering) but there was complete failure on his part to discharge the obligations. Therefore, by letter, the Chief Managing Director was requested to appoint the sole arbitrator and thus a letter was addressed by Chief General Manager of the respondent purportedly appointing the sole arbitrator.

Issues before the court

1.Whether the arbitration in the present case would be an International Commercial Arbitration?

2.Whether a case is made out for exercise of power by the Court to make an appointment of an arbitrator?


It was argued that the appointment process contemplated in the contract gave complete discretion to the Chairman and Managing Director(CMD) of the respondent to make an appointment of an arbitrator of his choice and as such, it would be desirable that the Court makes an appropriate appointment of an arbitrator.

The applicant submitted:-

(a) The applicants had duly invoked the arbitration clause;

(b) The Chairman and Managing Director was the competent authority to appoint  sole arbitrator;

(c) But the Chief General Manager of the respondent wrongfully appointed the sole arbitrator;

(d) Such appointment was beyond the period prescribed;

(e) In any case, an independent and impartial arbitrator is required to be appointed.


Respondent submitted that no case was made out to maintain the instant application. He submitted that two basic submissions were that the Chairman and Managing Director failed to appoint sole arbitrator within 30 days of the requisition and that it was the Chief General Manager of the respondent who purportedly made the appointment of  sole arbitrator. The infirmities thus projected were on two counts, namely, for over-stepping the limit of 30 days; and secondly the appointment was not made by the Chairman and Managing Director of the respondent. He pointed out that the period in terms of requisition dated 28.06.2019 expired on Friday and the appointment was made on the first available working day. Secondly, the appointment was actually made by the Chairman and Managing Director but was conveyed by the Chief General Manager, and as such the alleged infirmities were completely non-existent.


In the present case, Clause 24 empowers the Chairman and Managing Director of the respondent to make the appointment of a sole arbitrator and said clause also stipulates that no person other than a person appointed by such Chairman and Managing Director of the respondent would act as an arbitrator.

The inference is based on the judgement of TRF Limited v. Energo Engineering Projects Limited[1]. It was held that there are two categories of cases. The first, similar to the one dealt with in TRF Limited where the Managing Director himself is named as an arbitrator with an additional power to appoint any other person as an arbitrator. In the second category, the Managing Director is not to act as an arbitrator himself  but is required to appoint any other person of his choice or discretion as an arbitrator. If, in the first category of cases, the Managing Director was found incompetent, it was because of the interest that he would be said to be having in the outcome or result of the dispute. The element of invalidity would thus be directly relatable to and arise from the interest that he would be having in such outcome or decision. If that be the test, similar invalidity would always arise and spring even in the second category of cases. If the interest that he has in the outcome of the dispute, is taken to be the basis for the possibility of bias, it will always be present irrespective of whether the matter stands under the first or second category of cases.

According to section 11(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 where, under an appointment procedure agreed upon by the parties,— (a) a party fails to act as required under that procedure; or (b) the parties, or the two appointed arbitrators, fail to reach an agreement expected of them under that procedure; or (c) a person, including an institution, fails to perform any function entrusted to him or it under that procedure, a party may request  [the Supreme Court or, as the case may be, the High Court or any person or institution designated by such Court] to take the necessary measure, unless the agreement on the appointment procedure provides other means for securing the appointment.

So, if there are justifiable doubts as to the independence and impartiality of the person nominated, and if other circumstances warrant appointment of an independent arbitrator by ignoring the procedure prescribed, such appointment can be made by the Court. The application was allowed and an arbitrator was appointed to decide all the disputes arising out of the agreement.


The Supreme Court by allowing the application has made it very clear that if the arbitration clause in a contract mentions the procedure as to the appointment of an arbitrator in case a dispute arises between the parties to a contract, then the same must be given effect to. The court has authority to annul the application of the respondent and appoint the arbitrator according to the procedure laid in section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.


The information contained in this document is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal opinion, advice or any advertisement. This document is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or corporate body. Readers should not act on the information provided herein without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the facts and circumstances of a particular situation. There can be no assurance that the judicial/quasi-judicial authorities may not take a position contrary to the views mentioned herein.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances

[1] (2017) 8 SCC 377