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Ashok Leyland Ltd. Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectArbitration
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSuit No. 190A of 1979
Judge
Reported in23(1983)DLT278; 1983(4)DRJ118; 1983RLR519
ActsArbitration Act, 1940 - Sections 17
AppellantAshok Leyland Ltd.
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Advocates: G.L. Sanghvi,; M.C. Sekharan and; U.L. Watwani, Advs
Excerpt:
.....an appellate authority, or embark upon reviewing the pros and cons of the..........from giving into the merits of the decision or probing into the mental process by which the learned arbitrator arrived at his conclusion. the arbitrator being judge of both questions of fact and law, his decision is not open to purivew before the court. it is only when a mistake apparent on the face of the award exists that the court can be justified to interfere. it is also well settled that while hearing objections against an award, the court cannot assume to itself the role of an appellate authority, or embark upon reviewing the pros and cons of the decision.(3) this being the state of law, i should have least hesitation in rejeting the objections to the award and making that a rule of the court. however, mr. sanghi, appearing for the objector-contractor, has led me through the.....
Judgment:

D.R. Khanna, J.

(1) On a petition moved under section 14 of the Arbitration Act by M/s. Ashok Leyland Ltd., Dr. Bakshish Singh, Additional Adviser, Government of India, Ministry of Law, Justice & Company Affairs, who acted as sole arbitrator inter-se parties with respect to their disputes arising under A/T No. SV-7/101 77/168/3-6-69/1/783 dated 15-1-1970, filled his award dated 30-12-1978 in Court. Notices of this filing were issused to the parties. The Ashok Leyland then filed objections against the award which were controverter by the Union of India. They resulted in framing of the following issues:-

1.'Whether the award is liable to be set aside for the reasons stated in the objection petition 2. Relief.'

(2) A perusal of the award shows that it Is a non-speaking one and the claim of the Ashok Leyland Ltd. is alowed for Rs. l,79,666.00 . No reasons are given, nor any evidence discussed for arriving at this conclusion. The award also does not make reference to any document or make that as part of the award. Normally, thereforee, the Court is precluded from giving into the merits of the decision or probing into the mental process by which the learned arbitrator arrived at his conclusion. The arbitrator being judge of both questions of fact and law, his decision is not open to purivew before the Court. It is only when a mistake apparent on the face of the award exists that the Court can be justified to interfere. It Is also well settled that while hearing objections against an award, the Court cannot assume to itself the role of an appellate authority, or embark upon reviewing the pros and cons of the decision.

(3) This being the state of law, I should have least hesitation in rejeting the objections to the award and making that a rule of the Court. However, Mr. Sanghi, appearing for the objector-contractor, has led me through the arbitration record in order to show that three claims had been put up before the arbitrator by the contractor. They were of the amounts of Rs.4,648/, Rs.31,609.00 andRs.l,48,057.00 The first two related to two lots of leyland chassis which the contractor had supplied to the Union of India. One lot was constituted of 93 vehicles, and the other of 105 vehicles. There had however after the acceptance of the tender, taken place some rise in price because of enhancement of custom and excise duty, and the contractor on that score, sought corresponding increase in the price of the chassis so supplied.

(4) The third amount was for repayment of liquidated damages which had already been recovered by the Union of India from the bills of the contractor.

(5) On the first two amounts, the contractor gave up Its claim of Rs. 4,648.00 . Thus the only other two amounts left Were Rs. 31, 609.00 and Rs. l,48,057.00 . Their sum total comes to Rs. l,79,666.00 which have been made the subject-matter of the award.

(6) The sum and substance .of the case of the contractor is that there has occurred a patent error in the learned arbitrator assuming that the amount of Rs. 31,609.00 represented the increase in price of 105 chassis. Rather it is stated that the increase to that extent was per chassis. In this manner the claim towards 105 chassis would have amounted to more than rupees 31 lacs. The contractor claims that the claim before the arbitrator was of Rs. 31.609.00 per chassis, and when he allowed the same, he mistakenly did not multiply that with 105 chassis which were the subject matter of this claim. Grave injustice, in this manner, it is stated, has flowed, and overwhelming part of the claim of the contrator has either not been adjudicated or not allowed.

(7) From the side of the Union of India, on the other hand Mr. Wat- want has pleaded that the award of Rs. l,79,666.00 has to be considered in the context of what the learned arbitrator considered was allowable to the contractor. The bifurcation of this award into the two amounts of the claims as aforesaid, has been contested. It is urged that the learned arbitrator should be taken to have considered the entire controversy before him, and the claims set up during arbitration, and there is nothing to assume that the claim towards 105 chassis was not taken into account. It has however, not been disputed that the increase of Rs. 31,609.00 as put up by the contractor in the claim, related to per chassis.

(8) I have perused the claim petition which the contractor had submitted before the learned arbitrator, and must record an adverse note that the predicament in which the contractor find) itself landed, is much of its own doing. The claim which was submitted before the arbitrator was not happlly worded, and it was not clarified specifically in the same that the amount of Rs. 31,609.00 was for each chassis. Rather it was mentioned that' the price increase of Rs. 31,609.00 for 105 chassis' was being claimed. In such circumstances, if the arbitrator has allowed the entire two amounts as agitated in the claim petition, much exception could not be on the face of it, taken.

(9) The question arises whether for the faulty drafting of the claim by the contractor, the genuine claim, if any, should outright be rejected. Mr. Sanghi in no manner has attempted to support the unfortunate drafting of the claim petition in the present case. However, he has referred to a number of documents which tend to show that the increase claimed by the contractor had reference to each chassis. One of the documents before the arbitrators was a report by the Cost Accountant of the Government of India, certifying the increase to that extent. Mr. Watwani too has not disputed that the claim of Rs, 31,609.00 was for each chassis.

(10) The question to be considered is whether the leraned arbitrator was conscious while giving his award of this circumstance, and when the awarded Rs. l,79,666.00 he was including the amount of Rs. 31,609.00 in the same, and whether it was with reference to one chassis or 105 chassis. The answer to this can only be given by the arbitrator. Since the matter involved is of considerable magnitude, I am inclined to remit back the award to the learned arbitrator for considering this aspect of the controversy. The objections are, thereforee, partly allowed, and the award is remitted back to the learned arbitrator for adjudication afresh in the light of observation made above.


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