1. Both these appeals are disposed of by a common judgment, as the point for determination in both of them is identical although the respondents in the two appeals are different.
2. The Security and Finance Private limited, which is the appellant in both these appeals, filed applications under Section 14 of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940 (herein after referred to as the Act) for filing the award of the arbitrator and for passing a decree in terms of the award. The respondents opposed these applications on various grounds and one of the grounds was that the reference to the arbitrator was made unilaterally by one of the parties to the disputes, namely, the appellant herein, and that, thereforee, the arbitrator had no jurisdiction to enter upon the reference. This objection was upheld by the learned Subordinate Judge and he dismissed the applications filed by the appellant. The appellant has filed the present appeals against the said judgments of the learned Subordinate Judge.
The facts are not in dispute. The reference to the arbitrator was made only by the appellant and the respondents did not join in the reference. They also did not appear before the arbitrator at any time. The proceedings against them were continued ex parte. It is now well-settled that a unilateral reference only by one of the parties to the dispute in which the other parties have not joined does not confer any valid jurisdiction upon the arbitrator to enter upon the reference and that in such a case, the proper course to be followed is to put in an application before the Court under Section 20 of the Act. The respondents neither having joined in the reference nor having submitted to the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, the arbitrator had no jurisdiction to enter upon the reference and the award is liable to be set aside on this ground.
3. The learned counsel for the appellant has raised an alternative contention, namely, that the application filed under Section 14 of the Act may be treated as an application under Section 20 of the act. This cannot be done. The appellant has to make a fresh application under Section 20 of the Act and when such an application is filed, it will be disposed of in accordance with law.
4. In the result, these appeals are dismissed. But there shall be order as to costs.
5. Appeals dismissed.