Australia: Supreme Court of India - fraud allegations can now be referred to arbitration


The Supreme Court of India has made concerted efforts to align its jurisprudence with international norms, to establish India as an arbitration-friendly jurisdiction. Its recent decision in World Sport Group v MSM Satellite brings India further in line with jurisdictions where the courts have held that allegations of fraud can be referred to arbitration.

Before World Sport Group v MSM, the Indian Supreme Court had consistently refused to allow fraud allegations to be heard before an arbitral tribunal, arguing that this was in the interests of justice, due to the complex fact scenarios and evidentiary requirements of such cases.

These earlier cases concerned domestic arbitrations and it was unclear whether this principle also extended to international arbitrations. In World Sport Group v MSM , the Supreme Court clarified the issue by ruling that there is no such bar on issues of fraud being determined by tribunals in international arbitrations. This judgment is expected to reverse the trend of Indian parties in international arbitrations challenging the arbitrability of disputes on the ground that allegations of fraud have been made.

Statutory framework and background

World Sport Group v MSM arose out of a facilitation agreement between the parties concerning media rights for the Indian Premier League broadcasts. The facilitation agreement was governed by English law and contained an ICC, Singapore arbitration clause. This clause granted the parties the right to seek equitable relief prior to the appointment of the arbitrator or remedies beyond the jurisdiction of the arbitrator in the courts in Singapore or in any other court with jurisdiction over the parties.

Following a dispute between the parties, the respondents filed for a declaration that the facilitation agreement was null and void on the grounds of fraud before the Bombay High Court. The appellants then initiated ICC arbitration proceedings in Singapore. The respondents successfully applied to the Bombay High Court for an anti-arbitration injunction; this was granted on the grounds that the substantive aspects of the case raised allegations of fraud, concerned public funds and involved a public body.

"allegations of fraud would not necessarily render the arbitration agreement 'null and void' ... [and] ... would not make the arbitration agreement 'inoperative or incapable of being performed'."
  1. Did the Bombay High Court have jurisdiction to grant an injunction restraining a foreign seated arbitration between non-Indian residents?
  2. Was the Supreme Court required to defer to an agreement to arbitrate between parties to an international arbitration where the contract containing the arbitration agreement was alleged to have been vitiated by fraud?

The Court's decision

The Supreme Court rejected the appellants' contention that the High Court did not have the territorial jurisdiction to grant the injunction. Since the facilitation agreement had been executed in India and the alleged fraudulent inducement to enter into the contract and its subsequent rescission had taken place in India, the cause of action arose in India and gave the High Court territorial jurisdiction over the case.

The Supreme Court did not go into this issue at length and the assumption of jurisdiction did not (as will be seen below) affect the Court's decision upon the arbitrability of the dispute. However, it is pertinent that the Supreme Court saw no impediment in asserting that the courts in India had jurisdiction in a case between non-Indian residents concerning a contract not governed by Indian law. The fact that the contract allowed parties to seek equitable relief in the courts of Singapore or in other courts with jurisdiction over the parties did not overturn the jurisdiction of the Indian courts.

In spite of its assumption of jurisdiction, the Supreme Court noted that the court was bound by the intent of the legislature to encourage arbitrations and referred to Part II of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, which draws on the New York Convention and states that parties shall be referred to arbitration unless the arbitration agreement between them is 'null and void, inoperative or incapable of being performed'. (Section 45, Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act)

The Supreme Court deliberately chose to read section 45 in consonance with international interpretations of the phrase as used in the New York Convention. Using this interpretation, allegations of fraud in relation to the main contract would not necessarily render the arbitration agreement 'null and void'. The arbitration agreement was a separate contract and would not be avoided merely because the main agreement had been rescinded as void.

In addition, the fact that allegations of fraud would need to be inquired into would not make the arbitration agreement 'inoperative or incapable of being performed'. These terms only cover situations where the arbitration agreement has ceased to have effect or where the arbitration cannot be effectively set into motion.

The Supreme Court could therefore not refuse to refer the dispute to an arbitral tribunal on the ground that allegations of fraud or misrepresentation would be inquired into while deciding the dispute, or because public bodies and public funds were involved, or even because another suit on the same issue was pending before an Indian court.

While the last point was not discussed in detail, it is likely that the pending suit in the Indian court will be also referred to arbitration.

By limiting the scope of its decision in World Sport Group v MSM to arbitrations to which Part II of the Indian Arbitration Act applies, the Supreme Court decision applies only to foreign seated arbitrations. Fraud will arguably continue as a bar to a reference to a domestic arbitration.

Scope of agreement

The Supreme Court alluded to the scope of the arbitration agreement in World Sport Group v MSM. The court acknowledged that it was for the arbitrator to decide on the merits of the case, as the arbitration agreement provided for arbitration of all disputes 'arising in connection with, touching upon or relating to this Deed'. This should serve as a reminder to parties to draft their arbitration clauses as broadly as possible, since it is arguable that the court could still have refused to refer the parties to arbitration on the ground that the agreement did not cover the issues in question.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.