India: 'Seising' Of The Court: Rules Enunciated By SC

  • Supreme Court lays down principles governing jurisdiction of courts in arbitration matters
  • All applications under Part I of the Act made to a 'court' whether before or during arbitral proceedings or after an Award is passed fall within the purview by Section 42 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996


The Supreme Court in its recent judgment of State of West Bengal & Ors. ("Petitioner") vs. Associated Contractors ("Respondent") ("Ruling")1 has analysed the scope and applicability of Section 2(1) (e) and Section 42 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 ("the Act") and has laid down principles determining which 'court' would have the jurisdiction to entertain and decide applications under Part I of the Act.

Section 42 of the Act provides for scope of jurisdiction of a court over arbitral proceedings. It provides that where with respect to an arbitration agreement any application under Part I of the Act has been made in a court, that court alone has the jurisdiction over the arbitration proceedings and that all subsequent applications arising out of that agreement and the arbitration proceedings must be made in that court alone. For the purposes of the Act, 'Court' has been defined under Section 2(1) (e).


The Respondent was awarded a contract for excavation and lining of the Teesta-Jaldhaka Main Canal. The contract contained an arbitration clause. Dispute arose between the parties, following which the High Court of Calcutta, upon being approached by the Respondent in a petition filed under Section 9 of the Act exercised its jurisdiction under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent and passed an ad-interim ex-parte injunction. The High Court had separately also passed various orders regarding appointment of arbitrator and remuneration of the arbitrator.

Eventually, an award was passed by the arbitrator and the same was challenged by the Petitioner in an application filed under Section 34 of the Act before the Principal Civil Court of the District Judge. The Respondent challenged the jurisdiction of the District Judge by way of an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before a Single Judge at the High Court of Calcutta who allowed it. The order passed by the Single Judge at the High Court was then challenged before the Supreme Court of India by the Petitioner.


The main issue before the Supreme Court was to determine which court would have the jurisdiction to entertain and decide an application for setting aside the award under Section 34 read with Section 2(1) (e) of the Act and other provisions, including Section 42 of the Act.


Upon examining the provisions contained under Section 2(1) (e) and Section 42, the Supreme Court enunciated the following principles governing jurisdiction of 'courts' in various applications filed under Part I of the Act, including ones filed under Section 34:-

  • The definition of 'court' contained in Section 2(1) (e) is exhaustive in nature and categorically fixes 'court' as the Principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction in a district or the High Court in exercise of its original civil jurisdiction in the State, and no other court as 'court' for the purpose of the Part I. Further for the purpose of 'court' under the Act, where a High Court exercises ordinary original civil jurisdiction over a district, the High Court would have preference to the Principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction in that district.2
  • Section 42 applies to all applications made in a 'court' whether before or during arbitral proceedings or after an Award is passed under Part I of the Act. The scope of Section 42 extends to all the matters directly or indirectly pertaining to an arbitration agreement.
  • Applications preferred to courts outside the exclusive court as agreed to by parties would be without jurisdiction.
  • Applications made under Section 8 and Section 11 are not hit by Section 42 since these applications are not made to a court as prescribed under Section 2(1) (e)3.
  • Applications made under Section 9 and Section 34 to a 'court' are well within the purview of Section 42.
  • The Supreme Court is not a court within the meaning of Section 2(1) (e). Therefore, the Supreme Court does not retain seisin over the proceedings after appointing an arbitrator in international commercial arbitrations pursuant to an application under Section 11 of the Act.
  • If the first application is made to a court which is neither a Principal Court of original jurisdiction in a district nor a High Court exercising original jurisdiction in a State, then such an application not being made to a 'court', as defined, is outside the purview of Section 42.
  • An application made to a court without subject matter jurisdiction would be outside the scope of Section 42.

In light of the factual background and principles set out above, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition and ruled that the High Court of Calcutta had the jurisdiction to entertain and decide the application for setting aside the award under Section 34 since the parties had already submitted to the jurisdiction of the High Court of Calcutta in its Ordinary Original Civil jurisdiction in connection with earlier proceedings arising out of this particular arbitration agreement.


While this judgment clarifies and crystallises various principles regarding the jurisdiction of courts under the Part I of the Act, it also brings to fore a critical aspect of determination of supervisory court for a domestic arbitration.

It would now be critical for the parties to consider the time and stage at which they chose to move to a court in relation to a domestic arbitration. The Party which decides to approach a court first would then be able to determine which court would singly retain jurisdiction over the whole course of arbitration.

The aforesaid issue may however be neutralised by making a choice of court with the arbitration agreement.


1 Civil Appeal No. 4808 of 2013

2 As held in the case of Executive Engineer, Road Development Division No. III Panvel and Anr. Vs. Atlanta Limited, AIR 2014 SC 1093, NDA Hotline available on this link:

3 Applications under Section 8 of the Act are made to 'judicial authorities' and applications under Section 11 of the Act are made to the Chief Justice or his designate.

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.

Ashish Kabra
In association with
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.