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The Government deals with public money and the consequence of not allowing the application for condonation of delay would result in drain from such public exchequer without an opportunity being given to the appellant to contest the award on merits: Calcutta High Court.

This appeal is directed against an order dated 11th March, 2021 by which a learned Single Judge dismissed the application filed by the appellant for setting aside of the impugned award dated 23rd November, 2019 along with a prayer for stay of operation of the said award on the ground of limitation. The Judgment in Union Of India vs Rahee Allied And Ors (Citation: APO 49 of 2021) was served by THE HON’BLE JUSTICE SOUMEN SEN And THE HON’BLE JUSTICE AJOY KUMAR MUKHERJEE.

FACTS OF THE CASE :
In this case, the learned Single Judge refused to condone the delay on the ground that the appellant has failed to offer any satisfactory explanation for not being able to file the application for setting aside of the award within the period of limitation or within the extended period as provided under the proviso to Section 34(3) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’). The learned Single Judge has also refused to accept the submission made on behalf of the appellant that the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, 1963 as extended to the appellant on 18th February, 2021, by which the application for stay of operation of the award together with the arbitration petitions were directed to be filed afresh before the Commercial Division of this Court is also not acceptable as the ground for delay of about 4 days in filing the application before the Commercial Division could not be sufficiently explained. The inter departmental procedure for causing a delay of 4 days between the order of rejection of the earlier application for setting aside of the award and the date of presentation of the application for setting aside of the award before the Commercial Division was not sufficiently explained. The learned Single Judge was of the view that the relief for condonation of delay cannot be claimed as a matter of right and unless a satisfactory explanation is offered for not approaching the Court beyond time the appellant cannot take the shelter of being the Government or a wing of the Government to defeat the legitimate right of the award-holder as all the litigants are to be treated equally and not discriminatorily

JUDGEMENT:
In view of the submission made the Court observed that the appellant is likely to file an application for stay of operation of the award, the learned Registrar, Original Side, High Court at Calcutta shall for the time being retain the said amount to the credit of the AP No.107 of 2021, subject to any order that may be passed in the application to be filed by the applicants/respondents for withdrawal of the said amount. The award-holder has filed an application being IA No.GA 2 of 2021 praying, inter alia, for withdrawal of the said sum. The court is not deciding the said application at this stage as the said issue is required to be decided by the learned Single Judge in the event any application for stay of operation of the award is filed by the appellant or by the executing court in the event of non filing of such an application. The court further make it clear that we have not gone into the merits of the application being GA No.2 of 2021 and if any such application is filed on the selfsame cause of action, the learned Single Judge is requested to consider such prayer on merits being uninfluenced by any observations made by us in this order.
Thus, APO 49 of 2021 is allowed and IA No. GA 2 of 2021 is disposed of.

 

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY AKANKSHA 

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