Ambrosia Corner House Private Limited Vs. Hangro S. Foods - (High Court of Delhi) (30 Jan 2023)
Right to prefer objections to assail the Arbitral Award cannot be denied unless the party has failed to file the objection petition within the strict period of limitation
Present petition has been filed under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 ('Act') challenging the Arbitral Award passed by the learned Sole Arbitrator. The Respondent has raised a preliminary objection on the maintainability of the present petition contending that, the same has been filed beyond the period prescribed in Section 34(3) of the Act, including the maximum period of delay that can be condoned by this Court in filing of the present petition.
A more liberal approach is to be adopted by the Court while considering whether the filing should be treated as 'non-est'. In Oriental Insurance Co Ltd. Vs. Air India Limited, it has been held that a filing can be considered as 'non-est', if it is filed without signatures of either the party or its authorized or appointed counsel.
In the present case, the petition as filed on 4th July, 2022 was duly signed by the Director of the petitioner Company on all pages of the petition, and even by the counsel for the petitioner, whose vakalatnama was also filed with the petition. The first filing on 04.07.2022 cannot be treated as 'non-est' filing. At best, the Petitioner committed an error in not filing the documents in a separate folder as prescribed in the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018.
As observed by the Division Bench in Oriental Insurance Co Ltd. Vs. Air India Limited, the right to prefer objections to assail the Arbitral Award under Section 34 of the Act, though extremely limited, is a valuable right; the same cannot be denied unless the party concerned has clearly failed to file the objection petition within the strict period of limitation prescribed under the Act. In the present case, the conduct of the petitioner clearly evidences its endeavour to file a proper petition under Section 34 of the Act on 4th July, 2022, that is, the date of re-opening of the Court for the purposes of limitation in terms of Section 4 of the Limitation Act. The petition was, therefore, filed within the period prescribed under Section 34(3) of the Act. Accordingly, the objection of the Respondent on the present petition being barred by the provisions of Section 34(3) of the Act is rejected.
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