NHAI Vs Progressive Construction: Supreme Court Appoints Justice(Rtd.) GS Singhvi As Sole Arbitrator
Though allowing an appeal filed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the Supreme Court ordered the parties to the arbitral proceedings to approach the Indian Arbitration Council within 2 weeks for the disputes to be adjudicated in accordance with ICA Domestic Commercial Arbitration & Conciliation Law, 2016. The order came from Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Ajay Rastogi's divisional bench, which set aside the Delhi High Court's previous order dated 04.12.2019.
In view of incorrect inferences made by the tribunal, a single bench of the High Court via order dated 10.04.2019 had set aside the arbitral award passed by a three member tribunal. Aggrieved by the decision, both parties have lodged cross-appeals, i.e. NHAI and Progressive Construction Ltd. before the division bench of the High Court under Sec. 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The Division Bench subsequently ordered that the appeals should be limited only to the selective number of claims and counter claim findings. The NHAI, therefore, had favoured an appeal to the Supreme Court to contest this order.
The Court appointed former Supreme Court Judge, Justice G.S. Singhvi as the Sole Arbitrator in the matter who will be adjudicating all the claims and counter claims of the parties afresh. The Court went on to explain, however, that the appointment of the single arbitrator is subject to the declarations made pursuant to Section 12 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 concerning the independence and impartiality of the arbitrator and the capacity to devote adequate time to the completion of the proceedings pursuant to Section 29A of the Act within a statutory duration of 12 months.