Calcutta High Court Invokes Power Under Article 133(1)(A) R/W Article 134A Of The Constitution

The bench of Justice Shekhar B Saraf of the High Court of Calcutta in the case of State of West Bengal v. Rajpath Contractors and Engineers Limited (AP 737 of 2022) has invoked its powers under Article 133(1)(a) r/w Article 134A of the Constitution to allow the aggrieved party to directly appeal against its judgment to the Supreme Court on the ground that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance.

Facts of the Case:

On November 12, 1996, the parties reached an agreement. The project work was finished in 2006, but, in the year 2009, the respondent used the arbitration provision for sending numerous of its claims to arbitrator. As a result, the arbitrator was appointed, and the award was issued on June 30, 2022, in favour of the respondent. On October 31, 2022, the petitioner filed a challenge under Section 34 of the A&C Act. The respondents objected to the petition’s maintainability, claiming that it is barred by limitation because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

Judgment Review:

The Court noted that the award was issued on June 30, 2022, and it was legally delivered on the same date, therefore the statute of limitations began to run on July 1, 2022. First, the Court considered when the term of limitation expired, for which the Court considered the meaning accorded to the words ‘three months’ under Section 34(3) of the A&C Act. The Court stated that the wording “three months” in Section 34(3) of the A&C Act cannot be interpreted as “90 days.” Accordingly, they held that the original period of limitation expired on 30.09.2022. However, taking cognizance of the peculiar situation wherein the entire extended period of 30 days coincided with the Court’s holidays, the Court stayed the operation of its judgment for 60 days and invoked its powers under Article 133(1(a) r/w Article 134A to allow the petitioners to directly appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court observed that the case involves a substantial question of general importance and the that the law has a lacuna that the legislature could not comprehend and allowed the certificate to the petitioner. The Court also observed that the certificate to appeal would be in addition to the remedies already available to the petitioner.

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