Karnataka High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: P Krishna Bhat, J. disposed of the application with a direction to KSNC and State to consider the applications of petitioners which were filed in the year 2019 and take a final decision on the same.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioners intending to start school of nursing for fresh course of Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM Course), had made an application in the year 2019 seeking recognition with effect from Academic Year 2019-20 to the concerned authorities. No decision was taken by the respondents regarding either for grant of approval/recognition or refusal of the same to the petitioners. Therefore, the petitioners have come up with this writ petition seeking a direction to grant approval for their school of nursing.

A decision was taken by Indian Nursing Council to phase out GNM Course immediately after the applications seeking approval filed by the petitioners. Thus, a request was made by the Indian Nursing Council to the Principal Secretaries (Health) that no new GNM School of Nursing should be approved from the Academic Year 2019-20. Later, sometime after the notification was issued, a Local Inspection Committee had visited the petitioner’s institution. However, no final decision on the applications filed by the petitioners has been taken by the respondents even as on date.

The Court relied on judgment on UOI v. KMJ College of Nursing, 2005 SCC OnLine Kar 249 and K Velayudhan Memorial Trust v. State of Kerala, 2009 SCC OnLine Ker 5323 and observed that based on communication No. HFW 212 RGU 2016 dated 14-12-2016 issued from the Office of the Principal Secretary to Government addressed to the Registrar, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, insofar as recognition and approval to the School of Nursing is concerned, there is no need for the University to obtain no objection from the Indian Nursing Council.

The Court further observed in regard to making reference to the stages of examination of applications is concerned , in stage (a), it is only the submission of application under bye-law 49(1)(a) and Schedule IV and IX of the bye-law of Karnataka State Nursing Council is required and the application has already been submitted during the year 2019. With regard to the stages (b) to (g) of consideration of applications is concerned, the concerned respondents shall accomplish each of the stages in the process of consideration of the applications within a period of not more than a week. Thus, pending applications of the petitioners is required to be considered and processed by the respondents within a total period of eight weeks and communicate the decision to the petitioners immediately thereafter.

The Court thus directed the respondents “to consider the applications of petitioners which were filed in the year 2019 as if it is filed for the Academic Year 2021-22 and take a final decision on the same in the manner indicated hereinabove within an outer limit of eight weeks from today and communicate the decision to the petitioners immediately thereafter.” [JPI Dass School of Nursing v. State of Karnataka, 2022 SCC OnLine Kar 756, decided on 08-04-2022]


For petitioners: Mr. Receben Jaacob and Piyush Kumar Jain

For respondents: Mr. BV Krishna and Ms. Sumana Baliga

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Op EdsOP. ED.

The principle of least judicial interference was legislatively codified as Section 5 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996[1] (Act) in order to ensure continuation of the arbitration without periodic interdicts by any court.  Section 16[2] of the said Act carves out an exception to the general rule by providing a right to the parties before arbitration to raise the plea of objection to the competency of an Arbitral Tribunal. This is based on the principle of kompetenz-kompetenz i.e., the power of the Tribunal to rule on its own jurisdiction[3].  The reason is that if an arbitrator is himself of the view that he is not competent, no purpose would be served by continuation of the arbitration proceedings. If the arbitrator finds lack of competency, the arbitral proceedings would come to an end. It is in view thereof that an appeal has been provided under Section 37[4] of the said Act. The position would be however different where the Arbitral Tribunal finds that it is competent to proceed with the arbitration. No appeal has been provided in such a case. The consequences of such a decision are provided in Section 16(5) of the said Act is that the arbitral proceedings would continue resulting in an arbitral award. The remedy is provided in Section 16(6) of the said Act which is to challenge the ultimate award under Section 34[5] of the said Act. There is no segregated challenge permissible only on the question of the competency of the Arbitral Tribunal.

            The question then would be, at what stage should the jurisdictional objections raised by a party to the arbitration be considered and decided by the Arbitral Tribunal?  This question also arises in view of the prevalent trend of Arbitral Tribunals deferring the consideration of jurisdictional objections to the stage of final award which often results in the party which has raised the objection at the threshold, having to contest the entire proceedings, thereby wasting considerable amount of time and that too at great expense.

            In the respectful view of the author, the bare reading of Section 16(2) along with Section 16(5) of the Act leaves no manner of doubt that the Tribunal has no discretion in deferring a decision on an application under Section 16 of the Act. Section 16(2) stipulates that a party raising jurisdictional objections shall have to do so not later than the submission of the statement of defence.  The very purpose of having a party raise objections at the threshold would get defeated in the event the decision on these objections is also not taken with equal promptitude. As per Section 16(5) of the Act, the Arbitral Tribunal “shall” decide on the jurisdictional objections, and where the Arbitral Tribunal takes a decision rejecting the plea, the Tribunal shall continue with the arbitral proceedings and make an arbitral award. The reading of Section 16(5) indicates that a decision rejecting the jurisdictional objections is a statutory precondition for continuance of arbitral proceedings. The statute envisages only one of two situations i.e. first, where Section 16 objections are accepted and Tribunal holds that it does not have jurisdiction and second, where the objections are rejected by the Tribunal. In the first case, the remedy of Section 37 appeal is available and in the latter, the award passed by the Tribunal can be assailed under Section 34 of the Act. Therefore, once a statutory remedy has been provided against an order passed on a challenge to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal under Section 16, then, such a challenge must, in the opinion of the author be determined at the threshold itself and there is no apparent reason for deferring a decision on the Section 16 application.

            Any refusal to go into the merits of the dispute is a jurisdictional issue.[6] Therefore, it would be manifest, that a decision on any objection regarding the competence of the Tribunal to go into the merits of the dispute must not, and indeed cannot be deferred and must be taken at the preliminary stage itself. This position is consistent with the decisions of the Supreme Court in McDermott[7], Kvaerner Cementation[8] and also in Ayyasamy[9], where it was held that “the jurisdictional challenge is required to be determined as a preliminary ground”.

            In several cases, while deferring the consideration of a challenge under Section 16, parties and Tribunals have placed reliance on the decision in Maharshi Dayanand University v. Anand Coop. L/C Society Ltd.[10] where it was held by a two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court that there is no mandatory requirement to decide jurisdictional challenge as a preliminary matter, and that the same can be decided along with the final award. It is to be noted that the decision in Maharshi[11] did not consider the previous decision in McDermott[12], therefore, it could be argued that the decision in Maharshi[13] is “per-incuriam” and would not be good law. Similarly, in SAIL v. Indian Council of Arbitration[14] the Delhi High Court held that the wordings of Sections 16(2) and 16(5) do not place any mandatory condition of deciding preliminary objections to jurisdiction of the Tribunal at the threshold. Again, the High Court in arriving at its conclusion did not take into account the decision in McDermott[15] and Kvaerner Cementation[16], as such, the decision of the High Court cannot be said to be good law.

            Another aspect of the matter is the impact of the introduction of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015[17] (“2015 Amendment”) on the timeline and stage of consideration of the jurisdictional objections under Section 16 of the Act.  The 2015 Amendment was introduced with the objective of making arbitration user-friendly, cost effective and expeditious disposal.[18] In particular, Section 29-A was introduced mandating strict timelines of approximately one year for conclusion of arbitration proceedings.  With the introduction of the stricter timelines, there is a stronger case to be made for threshold examination of any jurisdictional objections at the preliminary stage itself. This would be consistent with the objective of expeditious disposal of arbitration proceedings and would also ensure that in cases of abuse of process, apparent jurisdictional bar, the party raising such objections is not made to wait till the conclusion of the proceedings for determination of these fundamental objections.  Such a course, if adopted, in the opinion of the author would pave way for furthering the cause of expeditious, and inexpensive arbitration proceedings.

Advocate, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India.

[1] <http://www.scconline.com/DocumentLink/87bn601l>.

[2] <http://www.scconline.com/DocumentLink/C8X6A4y5>.

[3] Chloro Controls India (P) Ltd. v. Severn Trent Water Purification Inc., (2013) 1 SCC 641; Duro Felguera SA v. Gangavaram Port Ltd., (2017) 9 SCC 729; Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. v. Northern Coal Field Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 455.

[4] <http://www.scconline.com/DocumentLink/0Vi7sQsH>.

[5] <http://www.scconline.com/DocumentLink/teuo89l3>.

[6] National Thermal Power Corpn. Ltd. v. Siemens Atkeingesellschaft(2007) 4 SCC 451.

[7] McDermott International Inc. v. Burn Standard Co. Ltd., (2006) 11 SCC 181.

[8] Kvaerner Cementation India Ltd. v. Bajranglal Agarwal, (2012) 5 SCC 214.

[9] A. Ayyasamy v. A. Paramasivam, (2016) 10 SCC 386.

[10] (2007) 5 SCC 295.

[11] (2007) 5 SCC 295.

[12] (2006) 11 SCC 181.

[13] (2007) 5 SCC 295.

[14] 2013 SCC OnLine Del 4490.

[15] (2012) 5 SCC 214.

[16] (2012) 5 SCC 214.

[17] <http://www.scconline.com/DocumentLink/9ajA4z9b>.

[18] Statement of Objects & Reasons – Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Bill, 2015.

Case BriefsForeign Courts

High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Local Division: This application was filed before G.J. Gajjar, AJ., under Rule 28(4) of the Uniform Rules of Courts by which the applicant seeks to amend its particulars of claim pursuant to a notice of objection filed by the respondent.

Respondent had objected to the amendment in particulars on the ground that it was not possible to determine what work was undertaken to remedy the alleged defective work or what portion of invoices was reduced by a certain aggregate sum. The applicant and respondent had entered into an oral agreement under which respondent had provided a programmer who was not appropriate for managing the PLC program due to which applicant had to recheck and get it corrected by a third party and company E for necessary and related costs. Applicant in its proposed amended particulars of claim has attached seven invoices made out to company E. The amended particulars was thus reducing this amount by 50% as a discount by the third party. Thus, this reduced amount as an amendment to the particulars was criticized by respondents. Respondent submitted that the plaintiff, at the very least, is required to specifically stipulate what portion of the attached invoices was not for its account and that Rule 18(4) should be read conjunctively with the provisions of Rule 18(10) in regard to the particulars required when claiming damages.

High Court was of the view that proposed amended particulars of claim do not disable the defendant from assessing the quantum of the claim. Therefore, the objection made by the respondent was dismissed and the particulars of claim was amended. [Shones Automation (PTY) Ltd. v. Smokey Mountain Trading 444 (PTY) Ltd., Case No. 1554 of 2018, decided on 19-02-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the reliability of the Call Detail Records (CDRs) produced as proof was questioned for not complying with the requirements under Section 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872, the bench of S. A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ said that the mode or method of proof is procedural and objections, if not taken at the trial, cannot be permitted at the appellate stage. It was held that an objection relating to the mode or method of proof has to be raised at the time of marking of the document as an exhibit and not later.

The bench said that though the admissibility of a document which is inherently inadmissible is an issue which can be taken up at the appellate stage because it is a fundamental issue, if the objections to the mode of proof are permitted to be taken at the appellate stage by a party, the other side does not have an opportunity of rectifying the deficiencies.

The Court was hearing an appeal against conviction in a case of abduction and murder where the Police had collected the CDRs of all the mobile phones that were recovered from the accused and the mobile phones of the deceased. The appellants had objected to the credibility of these CDRs. Rejecting the contention of the appellants, the Court said that the crucial test is whether the defect could have been cured at the stage of marking the document and applying this test to the present case, if an objection was taken to the CDRs being marked without a certificate, the Court could have given the prosecution an opportunity to rectify the deficiency but not now. [Sonu v. State of Haryana,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 765, decided on 18.07.2017]