India: Reaffirming Alternate Dispute Resolution – Giving Teeth To The Arbitral Tribunal

In two recent judgments, the Delhi High Court dismissed the challenges to the decisions of Arbitral tribunal terming it as 'unnecessary challenges' and refrained from interfering with the decisions of the tribunal as the same led to immense waste of judicial time and energy. The ratio as laid down by the Hon'ble High Court in the cases - NHAI Vs. M/S Bsc-Rbm-Pati Joint Venture and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited Vs. Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited" was a humdinger and has provided a muchneeded check on the unnecessary challenges to the awards especially by the Public Sector Undertakings.



The matter related to a construction contract awarded by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to a contractor. Disputes arose between the parties regarding the sums payable for the excavation of unsuitable construction material. The Tribunal issued an award against the NHAI in October 2014, directing the parties to adhere to the rates as was enumerated in the contract. NHAI assailed the award under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996(Act). When this challenge was dismissed, NHAI appealed to the Division Bench under Section 37 of the Act.


The DMRC case is related to the construction and maintenance of a high-speed metro railway in New Delhi. DMRC, a state-owned corporation, and DAMEPL entered into a public–private partnership for the construction and operation of the metro railway. DAMEPL terminated the agreement when the DMRC allegedly failed to cure defects in the Civil Works within the notice period. DMRC disputed the validity of the termination and argued that the agreement was terminated due to other issues with the project and not any defects, and that DMRC had performed all the obligations on its part with respect to the repair and maintenance. The Tribunal passed an award upholding DAMEPL's termination and awarding it damages on May 2017. DMRC made an application to set aside the award under Section 34 of the Act in March 2018.


  1. Whether the Court can sit as a Court of appeal and is expected to re-appreciate the entire evidence and reassess the case of the parties?
  2. To what extent can the Court interfere with the award passed by the Tribunal?


In both the cases the Hon'ble Court exercised circumspection in interfering with the award made by the Tribunal and held that it was the duty of the Court to see whether the view of the Tribunal is arrived at holistically after appreciation of the facts, pleadings and evidence placed before it. Further, it was held by the Court that if there were two possible views and the Tribunal had taken one of them, Court could not substitute its judgment for the judgment of the Tribunal just because there is a challenge to the award.

In the NHAI case, the Court reiterated the same view and held that the Tribunal was the final arbiter on factual and legal issues, and that errors "which stop short of perversity'' must not be interfered by the court. The Court further went on to hold that as long as the Tribunal's view was "plausible and not merely possible'' the court would not intervene.

The observation of the Hon'ble Court in both the NHAI and DMRC judgments signify the "minimalistic intervention approach" of the Court to applications to set aside arbitral awards since the same is not always filed as a result of an apparent error of law but only as a routine exercise to delay the enforcement of the award. It was further noted in the two judgments that such frivolous challenges not only waste the precious judicial time but also demonstrates the high handedness of the public corporations which have financial might to assail the award on frivolous grounds. In a welcome step in both the cases, the Court awarded costs to the award creditor on the basis that the award debtor had perused a meritless and vexatious set aside application. To sum up, just because a right to challenge the award is provided under the statute it should not be a trend to file meritless and frivolous application to set aside the same simply because the award debtor has the means and financial ability to do so and such practices should be nipped in the bud.

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.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions