New Delhi, October 2021: Singh & Associates represented Vindhyachal Expressway Pvt. Ltd. (VEPL) in the SLP (C) 15646 of 2021, filed by M.P Road Development Corporation Ltd. (MPRDC) before the Supreme Court. The SC dismissed the SLP on the ground of the analysis of the documents on record and found no reason to interfere with the impugned order passed by the High Court.
In the matter of MPRDC. vs MoRT&H & M/s VEPL being SLP (C) 15646 of 2021, Hon'ble Supreme Court has dismissed the SLP preferred by MPRDC and upheld the impugned judgment dated 03.09.2021 rendered by Division Bench of High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur in W.P No. 11783 of 2021. The contention of MPRDC that the Arbitral Tribunal constituted in terms of the agreement doesn't have jurisdiction to adjudicate the disputes and the same need to be referred to Tribunal as per M.P. Madhyastham Adhikaran Adhiniyam, 1983 has been negated by the Hon'ble Court(s).
VEPL entered into a Concession Agreement with Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation MPRDC for four laning with paved shoulders between Km. 229+829 at Rewa City to Km. 140+600 at MP/UP border in the state of Madhya Pradesh (NH-7) on DBFOT basis. VEPL invoked arbitration on 06.07.2020 in terms of the provision of the concession agreement and the same was to be conducted in terms of the rules of International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution, New Delhi (ICADR). MPRDC and MoRT&H (Respondents) were made party by VEPL as MoRT&H being the Principal and MPRDC is the Executing Agency. Since Respondents failed to nominate their Arbitrator then on 24.09.2020 ICADR duly nominated the Arbitrator on behalf of the Respondents. The Ld. Tribunal got constituted on 27.10.2020 comprising Hon'ble Justice A.K Sikri (Retd.), Hon'ble Justice Vikramjit Sen (Retd.) and Mr. A.S Chandhiok, Sr. Adv. Thereafter, MPRDC filed an application under Section 16 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and contended that the Tribunal doesn't have the power to adjudicate the disputes as the same amount to Works Contract and so the same need to be adjudicated by the Tribunal under M.P Madhyastham Adhikaran Adhiniyam, 1983.
VEPL duly argued and contended that the scope of work doesn't fall under the definition of works contract and MPRDC is only the executing agency and MoRT&H is the Principal Authority in terms of the MoU dated 30.09.2009. The Tribunal ruled in favor of VEPL and dismissed the Section 16 application vide order dated 29.12.2020. MPRDC challenged the said order under Article 226 of Constitution at the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur by preferring a Writ Petition being W.P No. 11783 of 2021 and the same was dismissed vide judgment dated 03.09.2021. The Hon'ble Court has duly stated that the Court(s) under Article 226 cannot give any relief against the order of the Tribunal under Section 16 and the same need to be challenged under Section 34 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996.
The order of the Hon'ble High Court and the dismissal of the SLP duly promotes the party autonomy in terms of opting for Arbitration methodology.
Former Solicitor General Mr Ranjit Kumar, Senior Advocate appeared for the VEPL before the Hon'ble Courts. The S&A Team led by Mr. Manoj K Singh, Founding Partner, and Mr. Nilava Bandyopadhyay, Sr. Partner is representing M/s VEPL in the arbitration and also represented in the Writ petition and the SLP.