Appointment of arbitrator by Court under S. 11(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act explained

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a civil petition under Section 11(6) and (8) read with Section 15(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Vineet Kothari, J. dismissed the petition holding that the essentials required for exercise of Court’s power under S. 11(6) of the Act were not fulfilled.

The petitioner filed the petition against the respondent, praying before the Court to appoint an arbitrator. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Arbitral Tribunal constituted in terms of the contract between the parties was re-constituted at the request of the respondent. The said Tribunal was directed by the High Court to conclude the proceedings within a period of six-months. It was submitted that the said Tribunal had failed to conclude the proceedings even after a long time. And being aggrieved by non admission of his claim before the Tribunal, the petitioner preferred a writ petition before the High Court which was pending. Hence, he prayed that a fresh arbitrator may be appointed in the present case.

The Court perused the record as well as submissions made on behalf of the parties and opined that Section 11(6) of the Act envisages intervention and appointment of an arbitrator by the Court, only if the parities to the agreement fail to act as required under the procedure agreed between them or the arbitrator fails to perform the functions entrusted to him. Therefore, it is only on the failure of the parties or the arbitrator that such a petition under Section 11(6) can be preferred and not where the arbitral tribunal was already seized of the arbitration proceedings under the agreed procedure.

In the instant case, the Court found that the Arbitral Tribunal was already constituted and it was seized of the dispute. It was not a case where the Tribunal failed to perform its functions. In fact, the petitioner was himself responsible for the delay in proceedings by filing unnecessary writ petition which was still pending before the Court. Accordingly, the petition was found to be sans merits and dismissed. [Hindustan Steel Works Construction Ltd. v. Union of India, CMP No. 102 of 2015, order dated  02.11.2017]

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