Thermal Insulation (I) P. Ltd Vs. Bridge & Roof Co. (I) Ltd  Insc 818
(13 August 2007)
Arijit Pasayat & C.K. Thakker & Lokeshwar Singh Panta
APPEAL NO. 3696 OF 2007 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 49 of 2006) Dr. ARIJIT
Controversy lies within a very narrow compass.
factual background as projected by the appellant is as follows:
22.12.2003 work order was issued by the respondent to the appellant. There was
a clause for arbitration in the agreement which was to the following effect:
ARBITRATION B&R confidently feel that there shall not arise any disputes or
differences during execution and completion of this order by the Contractor.
in the event of any disputes or differences arise between Company (B&R) and
Contractor (hereinafter called the said parties) touching or concerning the
interpretation of the terms and conditions as performance of the order or in
connection therewith or the rights and liabilities of either of the said parties
hereto, the said parties shall endeavour to settle the same amicably through
mutual agreement between them, but if the mutual settlement is not possible
between the Company and the Contractor, the provisions of the Indian
Act, 1996 and all statutory re-enactment and modifications thereof and the
rules made thereunder shall apply to such arbitrations."
27.11.2004 a notice of demand was sent to the site of the respondent and it was
returned with the postal endorsement "refused". On 30.6.2005 the
request was reiterated. On 9.8.2005 an order was passed by the High Court on
the application filed by the respondent. The matter was directed to be placed
before the Chief Justice of the High Court for naming an arbitrator. On
19.9.2005 the High Court refused to recall its order dated 9.8.2005 on the
appellant's petition. On 26.10.2005, this Court in SBP & Co. v. Patel
Engineering Ltd. & Anr. [2005 (8) SCC 618] has dealt with the nature of
power exercised by the Chief Justice of High Court or Chief Justice of India,
as the case may be, under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (in short
the 'Arbitration Act') and held that same is a judicial power and not an
administrative power. The decision in Konkan Rly. Corpn. Ltd. v. Rani
Construction (P) Ltd. (2002 (2) SCC 388) was overruled in SBP & Co.
(supra). The conclusions per majority were as follows:
We, therefore, sum up our conclusions as follows:
The power exercised by the Chief Justice of the High Court or the Chief Justice
of India under Section 11(6) of the Act is not an administrative power. It is a
The power under Section 11(6) of the Act, in its entirety, could be delegated,
by the Chief Justice of the High Court only to another Judge of that Court and
by the Chief Justice of India to another Judge of the Supreme Court.
In case of designation of a Judge of the High Court or of the Supreme Court,
the power that is exercised by the designated Judge would be that of the Chief
Justice as conferred by the statute.
The Chief Justice or the designated Judge will have the right to decide the
preliminary aspects as indicated in the earlier part of this judgment. These
will be his own jurisdiction to entertain the request, the existence of a valid
arbitration agreement, the existence or otherwise of a live claim, the
existence of the condition for the exercise of his power and on the
qualifications of the arbitrator or arbitrators. The Chief Justice or the
designated Judge would be entitled to seek the opinion of an institution in the
matter of nominating an arbitrator qualified in terms of Section 11(8) of the
Act if the need arises but the order appointing the arbitrator could only be
that of the Chief Justice or the designated Judge.
Designation of a District Judge as the authority under Section 11(6) of the Act
by the Chief Justice of the High Court is not warranted on the scheme of the
Once the matter reaches the Arbitral Tribunal or the sole arbitrator, the High
Court would not interfere with the orders passed by the arbitrator or the
Arbitral Tribunal during the course of the arbitration proceedings and the
parties could approach the Court only in terms of Section 37 of the Act or in
terms of Section 34 of the Act.
Since an order passed by the Chief Justice of the High Court or by the
designated Judge of that Court is a judicial order, an appeal will lie against
that order only under Article 136 of the Constitution to the Supreme Court.
There can be no appeal against an order of the Chief Justice of India or a
Judge of the Supreme Court designated by him while entertaining an application
under Section 11(6) of the Act.
In a case where an Arbitral Tribunal has been constituted by the parties without
having recourse to Section 11(6) of the Act, the Arbitral Tribunal will have
the jurisdiction to decide all matters as contemplated by Section 16 of the
Since all were guided by the decision of this Court in Konkan Rly. Corpn. Ltd.
v. Rani Construction (P) Ltd. and orders under Section 11(6) of the Act have
been made based on the position adopted in that decision, we clarify that
appointments of arbitrators or Arbitral Tribunals thus far made, are to be
treated as valid, all objections being left to be decided under Section 16 of
the Act. As and from this date, the position as adopted in this judgment will
govern even pending applications under Section 11(6) of the Act.
Where District Judges had been designated by the Chief Justice of the High
Court under Section 11(6) of the Act, the appointment orders thus far made by
them will be treated as valid; but applications if any pending before them as
on this date will stand transferred, to be dealt with by the Chief Justice of
the High Court concerned or a Judge of that Court designated by the Chief
The decision in Konkan Rly. Corpn. Ltd. v. Rani construction (P) Ltd. is
Though arguments were advanced in support of the respective stand about the
legality of the impugned order, it was agreed to by learned counsel for the
parties that following arrangement can be made.
appellant has nominated one Sri J. Chawla to be its arbitrator. Within a period
of 30 days the respondent shall nominate its arbitrator. Thereafter the Chief
Justice of the High Court shall nominate the Presiding Arbitrator who shall be
a retired Judge of any High Court."
Appeal is accordingly disposed of with no order as to costs.