Skip to content


Lachman D. Chablani Vs. the Union of India (Uoi) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectArbitration
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.F.O. No. 35 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1973All558
ActsArbitration Act, 1940 - Sections 30
AppellantLachman D. Chablani
RespondentThe Union of India (Uoi)
Appellant AdvocateJagdish Narain, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.C. Mathur, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....but having failed to do so he asked for further time which was allowed. on 21st september 1965 the arbitrator directed the present appellant to file a reply within a fortnight and the parties were asked to complete admissions and denials of each other's documents as well as to file draft issues on or before 7th october, 1965. from the order sheet dated 7th october, 1965 maintained by the arbitrator it appears that the arbitrator had received a telegram from the present appellant intimating that the appellant was holidaying outstation and requesting to fix a date somewhere in the middle of november. where a party deliberately absents himself from the hearing despite notice that if he would fail to appear ex parte proceedings would be taken against him. the award made would not be bad for..........was allowed. ultimately he filed his claim before the arbitrator on 19th may, 1964. the union of india filed reply to that claim and also filed a counter claim. the appellant was thereupon given, time till 28th september, 1964 to file his reply. he however, did not do so and moved the court for removal of the arbitrator on the ground that he had not given his award within two months. he also requested the arbitrator to stay further proceedings meanwhile. the proceedings were accordingly stayed by the arbitrator. the proceedings were also stayed by an order of the court. the application of the appellant was, however, rejected by the court on 18th september. 1965 and the arbitrator was directed to submit his award by 1st december. 1965. the proceedings were then re-started by the.....
Judgment:

T.S. Misra, J.

1. This appeal is directed against the judgment and decree passed by the Civil Judge Lucknow. dismissing the objection of the appellant to the award made by the sole arbitrator in a dispute between Sri Lachman D. Chablani and the Union of India. That dispute had arisen between the said parties out of a contract for handling and transport of foodgrains at Central Storage Depot. Lucknow for the period from 21st July. 1957 to 20th July. 1958-

2. The present appellant filed an application under Section 8 of the Indian Arbitration Act in the court of the Civil Judge. Lucknow for appointment of an arbitrator to decide the dispute and give his award. By an order dated 22nd April, 1964 the learned Civil Judge. Lucknow appointed Sri V. Ramaswami Iyer as sole arbitrator in the case and directed the parties to appear before him on 25th April. 1964. The arbitrator was also directed to file the award within two months. On 25th April. 1964 the present appellant appeared before the arbitrator and asked for time to file his claim. He was allowed to do so by 11th May. 1964 but having failed to do so he asked for further time which was allowed. Ultimately he filed his claim before the arbitrator on 19th May, 1964. The Union of India filed reply to that claim and also filed a counter claim. The appellant was thereupon given, time till 28th September, 1964 to file his reply. He however, did not do so and moved the court for removal of the arbitrator on the ground that he had not given his award within two months. He also requested the arbitrator to stay further proceedings meanwhile. The proceedings were accordingly stayed by the arbitrator. The proceedings were also stayed by an order of the court. The application of the appellant was, however, rejected by the court on 18th September. 1965 and the arbitrator was directed to submit his award by 1st December. 1965. The proceedings were then re-started by the arbitrator. On 21st September 1965 the arbitrator directed the present appellant to file a reply within a fortnight and the parties were asked to complete admissions and denials of each other's documents as well as to file draft issues on or before 7th October, 1965. From the order sheet dated 7th October, 1965 maintained by the arbitrator it appears that the arbitrator had received a telegram from the present appellant intimating that the appellant was holidaying outstation and requesting to fix a date somewhere in the middle of November. The arbitrator noted that no reply had been filed by the present appellant against the counter claim filed by the Union of India and that the parties had not completed admissions and denials of each other's documents and had not filed draft issues. They were, therefore, once again directed to admit or deny each other's documents within a week. The arbitrator also framed the points for determination in the case. He rejected the request of the present appellant for a long adjournment of the case. The case was. however, adjourned by the arbitrator for evidence of the parties to 21st October 1965, The parties were also notified and warned that in case of unreadiness or absence of any of them on the said date of hearing the case would be proceeded ex parte and disposed of in accordance with law. A copy of this order sheet was sent to the present appellant and to the counsel for the Union of India. In compliance with the order of the arbitrator the Union of India filed on 19th October, 1965 admissions and denials of those documents which had been filed by the present appellant. The appellant, however, sent a letter dated 20th October, 1965 to the arbitrator acknowledging the receipt of the arbitrator's letter of 11th October, 1965 and intimating that he would file a revision application before the High Court against the order of the Civil Judge of 18th September. 1965 whereby his application for removal of the arbitrator had been rejected. He requested the arbitrator to fix 31st October 1965 for attendance of the parties so that he might have a chance to obtain stay order by 30th October, 1965. The arbitrator, however, took up the case on 21st October. 1965. The Union of India was represented by a counsel. The claimant was. however, absent and none appeared for him. It appears from the order sheet of 21st October 1965 maintained by the arbitrator that the arbitrator had received a telegram on that date from the claimant intimating that he was filing a revision before the High Court and requesting for postponement of the proceedings and for fixing 31st October, 1965. Finding that no sufficient ground for adjournment had been made out the arbitrator rejected the prayer for postponement of the proceedings and proceeded to record the evidence adduced on behalf of the Union of India. Since the claimant was absent the arbitrator proceeded ex parte against him. On behalf of the Union of India two witnesses were examined and the case was adjourned for making the award. Ultimately the arbitrator made his award on 22nd October, 1965. By that award the claim of the present appellant was dismissed. The counter claim filed by the Union of India was allowed against the present appellant to the extent of Rs. 8,178/39. This award was filed in the court and the Union of India prayed that the same may be made a rule of the court. The present appellant filed an objection praying that the award be set aside on the grounds that the arbitrator had misconducted himself and the proceedings inasmuch as he did not adjourn the case on 21st October, 1965 on receipt of the telegram and did not give sufficient reasonable time to the appellant to appear before him and produce evidence in support of his claim and that no award should have been made in favour of the Union of India for Rs. 8,178/39 as no claim had been filed by the Union of India in that behalf and that the arbitrator being a servant of the Union of India was not a fit person to arbitrate. All these allegations were refuted by the Union of India in its reply. The learned court below, having found that the arbitrator had not misconducted himself and the proceedings dismissed the objections of the present appellant and pronounced the judgment in accordance with the award which was made a part of the decree. Against that decision the appellant has preferred this appeal.

3. The learned counsel for the appellant urged that the arbitrator had misconducted himself and the proceedings in two ways, namely (1) the arbitrator should have adjourned the case on 21st October, 1965 and should not have proceeded ex parte against the appellant, and (2) the arbitrator, while making the award, did not consider the appellant's documents which had been admitted by the respondent. Union of India and erred in rejecting the claim of the appellant. We shall examine these two grounds in seriatim.

4. An arbitrator is not bound by the technical rules of evidence, procedure and pleadings. He has. however, to abide by the fundamental principles of natural justice and must act in a manner that will subserve the interest of justice. It is a duty of the arbitrator to inform a party that he intends to proceed with the reference at a specified time and place. If such a notice is issued and a party fails to appear, the arbitrator would be at liberty to proceed ex parte against him. If a reasonable excuse for not attending before the arbitrator is not made out the arbitrator may make an ex parte award. The granting of an adjournment to a party is within the discretion of an arbitrator. The discretion should, however, be exercised in a reasonable manner upon proper material and after considering a party's conduct in the case. The arbitrator should consider whether the Party concerned had shown a sufficient cause for adjournment. What is sufficient cause will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Dilatory conduct of a party to the case and want of due diligence on his part may in a particular case be not sufficient cause for adjournment. Where a party deliberately absents himself from the hearing despite notice that if he would fail to appear ex parte proceedings would be taken against him. the award made would not be bad for misconduct of the arbitrator. Proceeding ex parte in such circumstances cannot be considered to be a misconduct on the part of the arbitrator. In the present case by an order dated 18th September 1965 passed by the Civil Judge, Lucknow, the arbitrator was directed to submit his award by 1st December. 1965, Consequently on 21st September. 1965 the arbitrator directed the present appellant to file his reply within a fortnight to the counter claim and to complete admissions and denials of each other's documents and to file draft issues on or before 7th October. 1965. It appears that on 7th October. 1965 the present appellant did not appear before the arbitrator. Instead, he sent a telegram to the arbitrator intimating that he was holidaying outside. He also did not file his reply to the! counter claim set up by the Union of India nor did he complete the admissions and denials of the documents filed by the Union of India. The arbitrator rejected the request of the appellant for a long adjournment of the case and adjourned the case for evidence of the parties to 21st October, 1965. The appellant was informed of this date by the arbitrator vide his letter dated 11th October, 1965. The parties were also warned that in case of unreadiness or absence of any of them on the said date of hearing the case would be proceeded with ex parte and disposed of in accordance with law. This letter was received by the appellant on 14th October. 1965 as would be evident from his letter dated 20th October. 1965. a copy of which is at page 85 in the paper book. By this letter the appellant informed the arbitrator that he was taking steps for filing a revision and for obtaining stay order from the High Court and requested that the next date for appearance be fixed for 31st October, 1965 to allow him a chance to obtain stay order by about 30th October 1965. On 21st October. 1965 the arbitrator took up the case. By that time he had also received a telegram from the appellant intimating that the appellant was filing a revision in the High Court and requesting for postponement of the proceedings and for fixing 31st October, 1965. The arbitrator noted that if the appellant was so minded he should have taken steps expeditiously for obtaining stay order from the High Court but he had not chosen to do so. On the other hand he waited till the date of hearing and sent the telegram. The arbitrator, therefore, held that it was not a sufficient ground for adjournment of the proceedings. He also observed that the hearing of the case could not be adjourned till 31st October. 1965 which happened to be a Sunday and holiday. The prayer for adjournment was, therefore rejected and the arbitrator proceeded ex parte against the appellant. The above facts would disclose that the arbitrator gave reasonable opportunity to the appellant of being heard and of adducing evidence in the case. The appellant, however, deliberately absented himself from the hearing before the arbitrator. Having found that no sufficient cause had been made out for adjournment the arbitrator was in our view justified in proceeding ex parte against the appellant. This action of the arbitrator cannot, therefore, be construed as misconduct on the part of the arbitrator.

5. The other ground of misconduct referred to above has also no substance. The arbitrator had framed the following points for determination in the case.

1. Whether the claimant proves his claim to recover from the respondent Rs. 39.344.11 or any portion thereof?

2. Whether the respondent proves its right to recover from the claimant Rs. 8,178.39 or any part thereof?

3. To what reliefs are the parties entitled?

6. In regard to the point No. 1 the arbitrator observed that no evidence was forthcoming on behalf of the claimant to prove his claim. Consequently, he found the point No. 1 against the claimant and in favour of the respondent No. 1. In regard to the point No. 2, after considering the evidence adduced on behalf of the Union of India, the arbitrator held that the respondent had proved its right to recover from the appellant Rs. 8,178.39. It appears from the letter dated 19th October. 1965 from the Union of India to the arbitrator that the Union of India had admitted two documents out of many filed by the claimant before the arbitrator. One was the letter dated 27th April. 1958 sent by the appellant to the Assistant Director, Lucknow, and the other was the letter dated 25th January, 1960 sent by the appellant to the Assistant Director, Lucknow. In the letter of 27th April, 1958 the appellant had informed the Assistant Director that certain wagons were unloaded in the presence of the railway officer and the staff of the Assistant Director and the shortage found was reported as well as noted by the railway office. It was stated that the railway authorities were asked to give a short certificate of 52 bags but they refused to do so on account of siding being private siding. The appellant had. therefore, asked the Assistant Director to make inquiries in the matter and to take immediate action. By the letter of 25th January. 1960 the appellant had informed the Assistant Director that all the work slips in connection with bills Nos. 11 and 12 had been submitted along with the summary and he had asked for payment of the pending claims. Admittedly no oral evidence was adduced by the appellant before the arbitrator to prove his claim. The other documents filed by him were not admitted by the Union of India and were not duly proved. The two letters of 27th April. 1958 and 25th January, 1960 did not by themselves prove the claim of the appellant. The arbitrator was. therefore, in our view not incorrect in observing that no evidence was forthcoming on behalf of the claimant to prove his claim. We, therefore, find no reason to hold that the arbitrator had misconducted himself and the proceedings.

7. No other ground was pressed.

8. In the result the appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed with costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //