Anilkumar Jinabhai Patel (D) thr. L.Rs.Vs. Pravinchandra Jinabhai Patel and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (27 Mar 2018)
Limitation period would commence only from date on which signed copy of award delivered to party making the application for setting it aside
Appellants have filed present appeals challenging the judgment of the High Court by which the High Court has held that challenge to the arbitral award dated 7th July, 1996 was time barred under the provisions of Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
On behalf of legal heirs of Anilkumar Patel, it was contended that as contemplated under Section 31(5) of the Act, copy of the award dated 7th July, 1996 was not served upon the family members of Anilkumar Patel and mere knowledge as to the existence of the award would not in any manner result in the commencement of period of limitation. The learned senior Counsel for the Appellants contended that, the limitation period can be computed only from the day on which the original signed copy of the arbitral award is received under the provision of Section 31(5) of Act, 1996.
In State of Maharashtra and Ors. v. Ark Builders Pvt. Ltd., while following the judgment in Union of India v. Tecco Trichy Engineers and Contractors, it is held that the expression "...party making that application had received the arbitral award..." cannot be read in isolation and it must be understood that Section 31(5) of the Act requires a signed copy of the award to be delivered to each party. By cumulative reading of Section 34(3) and Section 31(5) of the Act, it is clear that the limitation period prescribed under Section 34(3) of the Act would commence only from the date of signed copy of the award delivered to the party making the application for setting it aside.
Appellant being head of his family, was person directly connected with and involved in proceeding and was also in control of proceeding. Appellant would have been best person to understand and appreciate arbitral award and take decision as to whether application under Section 34 of Act was required to be filed or not. Service of arbitral award on Appellant amounted to service on other Appellants and Respondent and they could not plead non-compliance of Section 31(5) of Act.
As rightly observed by High Court, Appellant had gone to extent of even disputing his signature in award by drafting choreographed petition. Having accepted award through Appellant, being head of family, other Appellants and Respondent could not turn round and contend that they had not received copy of the award. The High Court rightly held that application filed under Section 34 of Act by Appellant and other Appellants and Respondent was barred by limitation. There was no good ground to interfere with impugned judgment.
Relevant : State of Maharashtra and Ors. v. Ark Builders Pvt. Ltd., MANU/SC/0158/2011
Tags : ARBITRAL AWARD SERVICE LEGALITY