1. The plaintiff-applicant instituted a suit in the court of the Civil Judge, Agra, against the defendant-opposite party for recovery of a certain amount. The claim was based on a contract between the parties. The defendant made an application under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act for stay of proceedings in the suit. It was alleged that the contract contains an arbitration clause which provides for settlement of disputes arising out of the contract by the Cane Commissioner, U. P. or an arbitrator appointed by him. After hearing the parties, the Civil Judge stayed the proceedings in the suit. This order was made on February 4, 1963.
2. More than two years thereafter the plaintiff applied to the Civil Judge for recall of the stay order on the allegation that the defendant has not done all that was necessary to be done by him for proper conduct of arbitration proceedings. The Civil Judge did not accept the contention of the plaintiff. He held that the plaintiff should have taken steps to bring about arbitration. So he dismissed the application. This revision is filed against the order of the Civil Judge.
3. The revision was in the first instance listed before a Single Judge. Before the Single Judge the plaintiff relied on adecision of Mr. Justice Piggott in Sheobabu v. Udit Narain, AIR 1914 All 275, in support of his contention. According to Mr. Justice Piggott if after stay of proceedings under Section 34, the defendant does not take steps to bring about arbitration, the stay order should be vacated and the suit should be heard. The learned Single Judge felt difficulty in sharing the view of Mr. Justice Piggott and has accordingly referred the revision to a larger Bench. This revision is now listed before us for decision.
4. We shall first consider the problem without the aid of precedents. There may be four kinds of arbitration clauses:
(i) the clause may provide for arbitration by an arbitrator to be appointed by the plaintiff;
(ii) it may provide for arbitration by an arbitrator to be appointed by the defendant;
(iii) it may provide for arbitration by arbitrators to be appointed by both; and
(iv) it may provide for arbitration at the instance of either of them by an arbitrator named therein.
Where the suit is stayed under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act on account of the second class of the arbitration clause, we think that the stay order should be recalled if the defendant has failed to appoint an arbitrator within a reasonable time. If the arbitration clause is of the first variety, the stay order should not be recalled on the plaintiff's failure to appoint an arbitrator within a reasonable time. He cannot take advantage of his own wrong. So he cannot ask the Court that the stay order should be recalled because the defendant has not [taken steps to compel him to appoint an arbitrator or to get the case referred to arbitration through the court. In the third class of cases the court may recall the stay order where it appears that the defendant has failed to take steps for starting the arbitration proceedings. In the fourth class of cases, we think that the stay order should not be recalled even though the defendant has not taken the initiative to start the arbitration proceedings, for the proceedings could be started independently at the instance of the plaintiff himself. He is blameworthy. The arbitration clause in the present case is of the fourth class. It reads:
'All the cases of dispute relating to the supply, etc., of the above will be referred to the Ganna Ayukta (Registrar, Cane Cooperative Societies, U. P.) for arbitration and his decision or the decisions of the arbitrator appointed by him in the matter shall be final and binding on both the parties.'
It is clear from this clause that either party can go to the Ganna Ayukta and seek arbitration. It is also clear from the language of this clause that the party aggrieved is to refer the dispute to the arbitrator. It cannot be assumed that the parties intended by this clause that the party who is not aggrieved should refer the dispute for arbitration to the arbitrator.
5. Sheobabu's case, AIR 1914 All 275, was decided under the Second Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure. It has now been repealed and the case before us is covered by the provisions of the Arbitration Act. The arbitration clause is not reproduced in the judgment. The contents of the clause are also not mentioned in the judgment. If the arbitration clause was of the second variety mentioned by us, we have no difficulty in concurring with the view of Mr. Justice Piggott, but if the clause was of the first or the fourth variety, we find it difficult to share his view. Clause 18 of the Second Schedule is similar to Section 34. The court below in Sheobabu's case, AIR 1914 All 275, had dismissed the suit on account of the arbitration clause. Mr. Justice Piggott held that the suit could not be dismissed on account of the presence of an arbitration clause. Thereafter he proceeded to indicate the procedure which the court below should follow. According to him, the court below should have acted in accordance with Clause 18 of the Second Schedule. If the court was satisfied that clause 18 applied:
'The order to be passed should have been one staying the suit, so as to give these defendants an opportunity of moving the Court in the proper manner to take action to bring the dispute before an arbitration tribunal properly constituted in accordance with the agreement.'
The learned Judge then went on to add:
'If that party takes proper steps within reasonable time, the regular suit will remain suspended while the arbitration proceedings continue, and if those proceedings eventuate in a decree of the Court, the suit would naturally be dismissed in the long run upon a finding that the matter in issue has been otherwise disposed of between the parties. If, on the other hand, the defendants, after pleading the agreement to refer to arbitration as a bar to the plaintiff's suit, themselves neglect to take any action in respect of it within such time as the Court may prescribe the presumption will be that though they were ready to obstruct the plaintiff's suit by pleading the agreement, they are nevertheless as dissatisfied as the plaintiff himself evidently with the agreement to refer to arbitration, and have no real desire or intention of getting that agreement enforced. In that case the Court will hold that the agreement has become a dead letter, in view of the fact that neither party has any desire to enforce it and it will proceed with the trial of the suit in the ordinary manner.'
These observations are relied upon by counsel for the plaintiff. The observations are obiter. It does not appear to us that Mr. Justice Piggott intended to lay down universal rule applicable to cases with different facts and circumstances and varying arbitration clauses. It is not legitimate to say that where the defendant has obtained a stay order under Section 34 he should invariably apply to the appropriate Court that the arbitration agreement be filed in court.
6. In our case the plaintiff had agreed to abide by the arbitration clause when he entered into a contract with the defendant. There appears to be no reason why he himself should not request the Ganna Ayukta to arbitrate in accordance with the arbitration clause. He knows his grievances. He can ventilate them before Him and seek redress from him. The defendant does not know his grievances, and it cannot, therefore, take the initiative.
7. Counsel for the plaintiff has relied on A. K. Moitra v. Ministry of Defence, Union of India : AIR1955All512 and Gen. Assurance Society v. Mohammad Salim : AIR1965All561 . Both these cases are distinguishable on facts and do not help him.
8. Reliance has also been placed on Mohd. Mohideen Nachiar v. Muhammad Naina Maracair, AIR 1938 Mad 205. This decision also does not go to the length of saying that the defendant is under an obligation to initiate arbitration proceeding, if he has procured a stay order under Section 34.
9. Counsel for the defendant submitted that Section 34 does not cast a duty on the defendant to initiate arbitration proceedings. Section 34 provides that when applying under Section 34, the defendant Shall satisfy the court that he was, and still remains, 'ready and willing to do all things necessary to the proper conduct of the arbitration.' It has not been proved in this case that the defendant has failed to do all things necessary to the proper conduct of arbitration. As already indicated, the plaintiff was aggrieved. He should have, therefore, applied to the Ganna Ayukta for arbitration. He never so applied. Accordingly it cannot be said that the defendant has in this case failed to do all things necessary to the proper conduct of the arbitration.
10. In the result, the revision fails and is dismissed.