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Delux Silk Traders Vs. Satyanarayan Mahendrakumar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectArbitration
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.C. Suit No. 769 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1979Bom149
ActsArbitration Act, 1940 - Sections 2 and 32
AppellantDelux Silk Traders
RespondentSatyanarayan Mahendrakumar and ors.
Appellant AdvocateC.S. Trivedi and ;S.P. Oak, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS.M. Jhunjhunwala and ;D.H. Mehta, Advs.
DispositionOrder accordingly
Excerpt:
.....debated on whether an award which was ineffective and unenforceable barred the suit between the parties the parties on the same cause of action - it was held that an award which had no legal existence did not bar the suit based on the original cause of action;b) the case debated on whether the decision given by an association could be considered as an award and whether the rules of the association provided arbitration machinery - - it is well settled that as a general rule, all claims which are the subject-matter of a reference to arbitration merge in the award which is pronounced in the proceedings before the arbitrator and that after an award has been pronounced, the rights and liabilities of the parties in respect of the said claims can be determined only on the basis of the said..........according to mr. trivedi, the only purpose of investigating dispute and complaints under the rules of the association is enforcement of discipline and nothing else. rules do not contemplate that the parties can file the decision in court and obtain a decree in terms thereof. he therefore says that the decision of 4th dec. 1973 is not an award given in any arbitration proceeding and therefore it cannot bar a suit between the parties on the original cause of action.7. both sides have relied only upon the joint rules of the three associations and have not produced before me the rules of the market silk merchant's association. an examination of the rules reveals that the rules contemplate resolution of various disputes between members and members and members and non-members, both in.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This is a suit filed by the Plaintiffs, against the defendants to recover a sum of Rs.26,400/- together with interest thereon being the price of art silk sarees sold and delivered by the plaintiffs to the defendants under a contract in writing dated 7th August 1073. Pursuant to the said contract the plaintiffs have delivered 1200 sarees on 14th Aug. 1973 under two hills bearing Nos. 14661 and 1475. It is the case of the plaintiffs that under the said contract the price of the goods was payable on delivery. Since the price was not paid by the defendants to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs did not supply any further goods to the defendants under the contract. According to the defendants, only 50% of the price was to be paid by the defendants to the plaintiffs within a few days of the delivery of the goods and the remaining 50% of the price was to be paid by them within 60 days of the date of delivery. According to the defendants, the plaintiffs have wrongfully refused to make any further supply under the contract As a result thereof the defendants have suffered damages to the extent of Rs. 28,843.25 P.which they have claimed to set off against the claim of the plaintiffs.

2. It appears that the contract between the parties is subject to the Rules and Regulations of the Shree Market Silk Merchants' Association. By their complaint dated 31-10-1973 (there are two complaints, one in respect of each bill) the plaintiffs asked the Shree Market Silk Merchants' Association to get the defendants to pay to them the said amount of Rs.26,400/- in accordance with the rules and regulations of this Association. The defendants did not appear before the Association though a notice was sent to them by the said Association asking them to appear before the Association. Thereafter the Association gave a decision dated 4-12-1973, wherein the defendants were found liable to pay to the plaintiffs the said sum of Rupees 26,400/-. This decision was referred to the Joint Action Committee of Shree Market Silk Merchants' Association, the Silk Merchants' Association and Swadeshi Market Textile Merchants Association for further action.

3. In view of the above proceedings the defendants have made certain submissions in para 1 of the written statement. They have submitted that in view of the said award dated 4-12-1973 the present suit filed by the plaintiffs against the defendants on the same cause of action is not maintainable in law and the same should be dismissed with costs. In the alter-native, they have also submitted that the said Association had no jurisdiction to arbitrate in the matter; the said award is made without jurisdiction and the same is illegal and not binding on the defendants.

4. In view of the above submissions, a preliminary issue was framed, being Issue No. 2, namely whether the suit is maintain able in law as alleged in para 1 of the written statement

5. It is an admitted position that no decree has been passed in terms of the alleged Award dated 4-12-1973. The question is whether such an award which is ineffective and unenforceable bars a suit between the parties on the same cause of action. It has been held by our High Court in the case of Chandrabhaga Sadashiv v. Bhikachand Hansaji : AIR1959Bom549 that an award which had no legal existence (because though it was compulsorily registrable it was not registered) did not bar a suit based on the original cause of action.Mr. Jhunjhunwala, who appears for the defendants, has pointed out that this decision is impliedly overruled by a judgment given by the Supreme Court in the case of Satish Kumar v. Surinder Kumar : [1969]2SCR244 . This judgment of the Supreme Court has cited with approval a previous decision of the Supreme Court in M/s. Uttam Singh Dugal and Co. v. Union of India (Civil Appeal No. 162 of 1962 decided on 11-10-1962). The following observations from Uttam Singh's Judgment have been cited with approval:

'The true legal position in regard to the effect of an award is not in dispute. It is well settled that as a general rule, all claims which are the subject-matter of a reference to arbitration merge in the award which is pronounced in the proceedings before the arbitrator and that after an award has been pronounced, the rights and liabilities of the parties in respect of the said claims can be determined only on the basis of the said award. After an award is pronounced, no action can be started on the original claim which had been the subject-matter of the reference. As has been observed by Mookerjee, J. in the case of Bhajahari Sana Banikya v. Behary Lal Basak, ILR(1.909) Clause 881, 'the award is. In fact, a final adjudication of a Court of the parties' own choice, and until impeached upon sufficient grounds in an appropriate proceedings, an award, which is on the face of it regular, is conclusive upon the merits of the controversy submitted, unless possibly the parties have intended that the award shall not be final and conclusive.... in reality, an award possesses all the elements of vitality even though it has not been formally enforced and it may be relied upon in a litigation between the parties relating to the same subject-matter.' The above decision of the Supreme Court has been interpreted by the High Courts of Patna : AIR1973Pat405 , Allahabad : AIR1974All37 and Punjab as creating a bar to the filing of a suit on the original cause of action when an award has been given in respect thereof although no decree may have been passed in terms of the award. It would, therefore, appear that although an award may be unenforceable because no decree can be passed in terms of it, nevertheless it would be binding on the parties and no suit can be filed in respect of the subject matter of the. award. Mr. Trivedi, who appears for theplaintiffs, accepts the above position, hence it need not be examined any further.

6. The question, therefore, is whether this decision of, 4th Dec. 1973 is an award and whether the rules of the said Association provide for a machinery of arbitration. It has been strenuously urged by Mr. Trivedi that the joint Rules and Regulations of the Silk Merchants' Association, Shree Market Silk Merchants' Association and Swadeshi Market Textile Merchants' Association, Bombay are rules which govern the conduct of their members. They are meant to regulate conduct between members or members and non-members who may have entered into contracts subject to its Rules and they are framed for the purpose of enforcing discipline amongst them. According to him, the rules do not provide for any arbitration machinery. He has emphasised Rule 3 (5) of the joint Rules which makes compulsory for both the sides to obey the decision of the Association. He also emphasised Rules 29, 30, and 31. Under Rule 29 lawyers are prohibited from appearing before the joint Justice Committee and the Joint Appellate Board. Rules 30 and 31 provide for disciplinary actions against persons who disobey the decision of the Association. According to Mr. Trivedi, the only purpose of investigating dispute and complaints under the Rules of the Association is enforcement of discipline and nothing else. Rules do not contemplate that the parties can file the decision in Court and obtain a decree in terms thereof. He therefore says that the decision of 4th Dec. 1973 is not an award given in any arbitration proceeding and therefore it cannot bar a suit between the parties on the original cause of action.

7. Both sides have relied only upon the joint Rules of the three Associations and have not produced before me the rules of the Market Silk Merchant's Association. An examination of the Rules reveals that the Rules contemplate resolution of various disputes between members and members and members and non-members, both in respect of local contracts and contracts for the supply of goods with up-country traders. Rule 3 (iii) defines various disputes which can be raised. One of the disputes so listed is non-payment. Under Rule 3 (iv) (kh) if a contract between a member and a non-member states that the contract is subject to the rules and regulations of the Association, it will be compulsory for the parties to refer any dispute in connection therewith to the Association. Inrespect of local transactions the Rules contemplate that dispute should be referred not to the joint committee of all the three Associations, but to the particular Association concerned (in the present case, Shree Market. Silk Merchants' Association). These disputes: are to be decided by the Nyaya Samiti of the, said Association. The enforcement of the' said decision is entrusted to an Action Committee of the Association which is entitled to lake disciplinary proceeding against a party disobeying the decision. It would thus appear that there is a clear distinction between the machinery provided for resolution of disputes and the machinery provided for enforcement of the decision so given. Simply because the rules provide for disciplinary proceedings, it cannot be said that there is no arbitration between the parties to resolve the dispute. The rules may also provide for enforcement of contracts by payment etc. But this does not preclude resolving of genuine disputes between the parties through the machinery of the Association. Therefore, it would-appear that an arbitration is provided under the Rules of the said Association.

8. The question, however, remains whether any dispute between the parties has been referred to arbitration. Halsbury's laws of England,. Vol. 2, 4th Edition, para 501 defines an 'Arbitration' as follows;

'An arbitration is the reference of a dispute or difference between not less than two parties for determination, after hearing both sides in a judicial manner, by a person or persons other than a court of competent jurisdiction.'

If there is no dispute within the meaning of an agreement to refer disputes i. e where there is no controversy in being, as when a party admits liability but simply fails to pay, there can be no arbitration. This proposition has been upheld by our High Court in AIR [93] Bom 164 Dawood bhai Abdulkader v. Abdulkader Ismailji.

9. In the present case, if we look at the two complaints which have been filed by the plaintiffs, it appears that after setting out the transaction covered by the particular bill the plaintiffs have stated as follows;

'The aforesaid party is denying to pay without any reason, therefore, kindly get the amount paid fully according to the Rules and Regulations of the Association.'

This is an office translation of the original complaint in Gujarati. The actual words usedare

^^^^mijeh ikVhZ dksbZ ,.k tkruk oka/kk vaxajfgekn vaiokuh ek ikMs Ns- rks vlhlh,'ku /kkjk;ksE.k eqvi fglk; ,qDrs dinh vkinkesa dj'kvks-**

The date of this complaint is 31st October 1973. It is true that prior to the date pi this complaint, on 5th Oct., 1973 the defendants have written a letter to the plaintiffs claiming damages for non-delivery of goods. But there is no reference to this letter anywhere in the complaint. On the contrary, the plaintiffs state that the aforesaid party (defendants) have not raised any dispute but are refusing to pay. and therefore the plaintiffs are asking the Association to obtain for them payment in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the said Association. Hence the plaintiffs have not referred any dispute between them and the defendants to arbitration machinery of the Association. They appear to have invoked only the enforcement machinery for the purpose of realisation of their claim. Mr. Jhunjhunwala has pointed out that since a dispute was in existence prior to the complaint, the complaint should be read as a denial of liability on the part of the defendants rather than a mere refusal to pay. It is true that if there is a denial of liability on the part of the defendants which is referred on arbitration, that would be a dispute under the contract which could be a subject-matter of arbitration proceedings. But in the present case, I do not find that what has been referred to the Association is the fact of any denial of liability by the Defendants. In fact, the very title of the said complaint is called

^^Qfj;knh i=**

10. Mr. Jhunjhunwala has pointed out that in the plaint itself the Plaintiffs have referred to the dispute being referred to Nyaya Samiti of the said Association. But that can make no difference to the nature of the complaint which was in fact filed by the Plaintiffs. Hence, there is no award in existence on the subject-matter of litigation herein. The Plaintiffs are therefore, entitled to file a suit for recovery of their dues on the said two bills.

11. The preliminary issue, is, therefore,decided against the defendants.

12. Order accordingly.


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