Delhi High Court’s Jurisdictional Ruling: Venue vs Seat of Arbitration and Time Extension for Arbitral Proceedings

Title:  Reliance Infrastructure Limited v. Madhyanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited

Decided on:  14th August, 2023

+  O.M.P.(MISC.)(COMM.) 161/2020 and IA No. 9377/2020



The Delhi High Court recently rendered a significant decision regarding the distinction between the ‘venue’ and ‘seat’ of arbitration, as well as the extension of time for completing arbitral proceedings. The case involved a petition seeking an extension of time for issuing an arbitral award under Section 29A(4) and (5) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.


The petitioner, a participant in Rural Electrification works in Uttar Pradesh, initiated arbitration proceedings due to disputes arising from contracts. The General Conditions of Contract (GCC) mentioned that disputes would be resolved through arbitration, with Delhi having exclusive jurisdiction. Subsequently, the petitioner sought an extension for the Sole Arbitrator to issue the arbitral award.


The central issue before the Court was the distinction between the ‘venue’ and ‘seat’ of arbitration and the significance of an exclusive jurisdiction clause. The Court underscored that when an arbitration clause designates a specific ‘venue,’ it essentially anchors the arbitral proceedings to that location, making it the ‘seat’ of arbitration. Thus, the Court exercising supervisory jurisdiction over the designated ‘venue’ becomes the supervisory authority for the arbitral process, even if a general exclusive jurisdiction clause exists for a different court. The Court examined various judgments and legal precedents to establish this principle.

The Court highlighted the fact that the LOA’s ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ clause was general and did not specifically pertain to arbitration, while the GCC Clause 48.1.2 designating Delhi as the ‘venue’ of arbitration took precedence. This reinforced Delhi as the ‘seat’ of arbitration. The Court clarified that the Arbitration Act empowers courts to extend the Arbitrator’s mandate even after the award’s deadline, upon sufficient cause shown.


The Court declared its territorial jurisdiction over the arbitration proceedings and the petition’s maintainability. It granted the petition, allowing an extension of one year from the date of the judgment for completing the arbitration proceedings and issuing the arbitral award. The Court emphasized that the Sole Arbitrator had not shown any lack of expedition in the proceedings.


The Delhi High Court’s ruling highlights the significance of accurately designating the ‘seat’ of arbitration based on the specified ‘venue’ and clarifies that exclusive jurisdiction clauses do not undermine the seat’s authority. The Court’s decision also underscores the flexibility of the Arbitration Act to grant extensions for arbitral proceedings.

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Written by- Ankit Kaushik

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