Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. Vs.
Union of India  INSC 217 (12 October 1966)
12/10/1966 WANCHOO, K.N.
CITATION: 1967 AIR 526 1967 SCR (1) 543
Indian Arbitration Act (10 of 1940), s.
14(2)-Award-Copy of award required to be filed in Court-Umpire certifying copy
of award to be a true copy and then signing award-Such copy whether a 'signed
copy' within meaning of section-Sign, meaning of.
The appellant entered into a contract with
the, Union of India for the construction of certain railway bridges. On
disputes arising the matter went to arbitration and then to an umpire. After
the umpire had made his award the appellant filed an application under s. 14 of
the Indian Arbitration Act 1940, praying that the umpire be directed to file
the award or a signed Copy thereof in the terms of s.
14(2). The umpire filed in the Court a copy
at the top of which he wrote : "now I hereby reproduce a true copy of the
said award which is as follows." At the end of the copy of the award he
wrote : "Certified as correct copy of the award dated 27th May 1961."
Under this the umpire's signature appeared. It was objected by the Union of
India before the court that the copy of the award so filed was not a
"signed copy" of the award as required by s. 14(2) but only a
"certified copy". The objection was upheld by the court and the
appellants application for passing -a judgment in terms of the award was
dismissed. A revision petition before the High Court failed. The appellant then
came to this Court by special leave.
HELD : When a document is an accurate or
true, and full reproduction of the original it would be a copy. In the present
case what was produced by the umpire was a true accurate and full reproduction
of the original. It was therefore a copy of the original. [845 H] It was also a
signed copy because it bore the signature of the umpire. A document must be
signed in such a way as to make it appear that the person signing it is the
author of it, and if that appears it does not matter what the form of an
instrument is, or in what part of it the signature occurs. The fact that the
umpire wrote the words "certified as correct copy of the award dated the
27th May 1961" above his signature did not make any difference and the
document was still a signed copy of the award. If anything these words showed
that the document filed was a true copy of the award. [846 D, H; 847 A-B]
Mohesh Lal v. Busunt Kumaree, I.L.R. (1881) VI Cal. 340, relied on.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1109 of 1966.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated December 17, 1964 of the Punjab High Court (Circuit Bench) at Delhi
in Civil Revision No. 159-D of 1963.
M. C. Setalvad, Veda Vyasa and K. K. Jain.
for the appellants.
S. G. Patwardhan, K. L. Hathi and R. H.
Dhebar, for the respondent.
844 The Judgment of the Court was delivered
by Wanchoo, J. This is an appeal by special leave against the judgment of the Punjab
High Court and arises in the following circumstances. The appellant entered
into a contract with the Union of India, respondent herein, for construction of
certain highway bridges. In connection with the execution of the contract, some
disputes arose between the parties and were referred to the joint arbitration
of Sri B. K. Guha and Sri N. P. Gurjar. As there was difference of opinion
between the two arbitrators, the matter was referred to an umpire, namely, Sri
Dildar Hussain, retired Chief Engineer, Hyderabad. The umpire recorded evidence
of the parties and gave his award on May 27, 1961. It appears that the award
was made in duplicate and one copy was sent to each party. On August 4, 1961,
the appellant made a petition before the Subordinate Judge First Class, Delhi
under ss. 14 and 17 of the Arbitration Act, No. 10 of 1940, (hereinafter
referred to as the Act). it was prayed that the umpire be directed by the court
to cause the award or a signed copy thereof together with any depositions and
documents which might have been taken and proved before him to be filed in
court (s. 14). It was further prayed that a judgment be passed in terms of the
award (s. 17).
It appears that on this petition the court
issued notice to the umpire to file the award and the arbitration proceedings.
On September 13, 1961, the umpire wrote to the court that he was forwarding
along with that letter the award in the case duly signed and certified by him. On
November 1, 1961, an objection was taken on behalf of the respondent that the
award said to have been filed by the umpire had not been validly and legally
filed under s. 14 and as such no proceedings in pursuance of the said filing
could be taken in court.
This objection was considered as a
preliminary objection by the Subordinate Judge. He came to the conclusion that
the document filed in court was neither the original award nor a signed copy
thereof, and as such the court could not take any action on that document. He
therefore allowed the objection and dismissed the application under s. 17 for
passing a judgment in terms of the award. The appellant then went in revision
to the High Court. The High Court dismissed the revision application holding
that the document filed in court was admittedly not the original award and that
it was clear from a perusal of the document itself that it was not a signed
copy thereof. Certain alternative arguments were submitted to the High Court
which were rejected and the revision application thus failed.
Thereupon the appellant obtained special
leave, and that is how the matter has come up before us.
The main question that has been argued on
behalf of the appellant is that the document in question is a signed copy of the
845 award within the meaning of those words in s. 14(2) and therefore further
proceedings should have been taken under s. 17 of the Act. Now the relevant
part of s. 14 (2) reads thus :
"(2) The arbitrators or umpire shall, at
the request of any party to the arbitration agreement or any person claiming
under such party or if so directed by the court.... cause the award or a signed
copy of it, together with any depositions and documents which may have been
taken and proved before them, to be filed in court..........." Therefore
when a notice is issued by a court to the arbitrators or umpire it is their
duty to file in court either the award in original or a signed copy thereof as
directed by the court. It is not in dispute that in the present case the original
award has not been filed. The dispute is whether the document filed is a signed
copy of the award. The main contention on behalf of the appellant is that the
document is a signed copy of the award within the meaning of those words in s.
14(2), and thus should have been acted upon by the court. On the other hand, it
is contended on behalf of the respondent that what has been filed is a
certified copy of the award and not a signed copy thereof, and therefore it
cannot be acted upon. The High Court has accepted the contention of the
respondent and all that it has said in that behalf is that it is clear from a
perusal of the award that it is not a signed copy of the award but it is
certified as correct copy of the award dated the 27th May, 1961. Unfortunately,
the High Court has not considered what exactly the words "signed copy of
the award" mean, and it is to this problem that we must now turn.
Now the word "copy" as such is not
defined in the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872. But we get an idea of what a copy
is from the provisions of s. 63 of the Evidence Act. That section inter alia
defines what secondary evidence means and includes namely--(i) certified copies
as provided, in s. 76 of the Evidence Act, (ii) copies made from the original
by mechanical processes which in themselves insure the accuracy of the copy,
and copies compared with such copies, and (iii) copies made from or compared
with the original. Obviously, therefore a copy means a document prepared from
the original which is an accurate or true copy of the original. In Webster's
New World Dictionary, the word "copy" means "a thing made just
like another ; full reproduction or transcription". What the word
"copy" in s. 14(2) therefore requires is that it must be a full
reproduction of the original and that it should be accurate or true. When a
document is an accurate or true and full reproduction of the original it would
be a copy. In the present case it is not in dispute that what was produced by
Sri Dildar Hussain was a true or accurate and full reproduction of the
It was therefore a copy of the original, and
the 846 only question that remains is whether it was signed, for if it was
signed, it would be a signed copy.
This brings us to the meaning of the word
"sign" as used in the expression "signed copy". In
Webster's New World Dictionary, the word "sign" means "to write
one's name on, as in acknowledging authorship, authorising action etc." To
write one's name is signature. Section 3(56) of the General Clauses Act, No. 10
of 1897, has not defined the word "sign" but has extended its meaning
with reference to a person who is unable to write his name to include
"mark" with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions. This
provision indicates that signing means writing one's name on some document or
paper. In Mohesh Lal v. Busunt Kumaree(1), a question arose as to what
"signature" meant in connection with s. 20 of the Limitation Act, No.
IX of 1871. It was observed that "where a party to a contract signs his
name in any part of it in such a way as to acknowledge that he is the party
contracting, that is a sufficient signature". It was further observed that
the document must be signed in such a way as to make it appear that the person
signing it is the author of it, and if that appears it does not matter what the
form of the instrument is, or in what part of it the signature occurs. or?,, We
accept these observations and are of the opinion that so long as there is the
signature of the arbitrator or umpire on the copy of the award filed in court
and it shows that the person signing authenticated the accuracy or correctness
of the copy of the document would be a signed copy of the award. It would in
such circumstances be immaterial whether the arbitrator or umpire put down the
words "certified to be true copy" before signing the copy of the
award. If anything, the addition of these words (namely, certified to be true
copy) would be the clearest indication of the authentication of the copy as a
true copy of the award, which is what s. 14(2) requires, so long as the
authentication is under the signature of the arbitrator or the umpire himself.
In the present case, the document was sent by the umpire along with a letter
forwarding it to the court. In the letter it was stated that he was sending the
award only signed and certified by him. Then turning to the document we find
that it begins with the words "now I hereby reproduce a true copy of the
said award which is as follows" and this is signed by Sri Dildar Hussain,
the umpire. Then follows the copy of the award, at the end we find the words
"certified as correct copy of the award dated the 27th May, 1961 ".
Underneath appears the signature of Sri Dildar Hussain, the umpire. Clearly
therefore the document filed is a true or accurate and full reproduction of the
original award and it bears the signature of the umpire, Sri Dildar Hussain,
and thus is a signed copy of the award.
847 The fact that the umpire wrote the words
"certified as correct copy of the award dated the 27th May, 1961"
above his signatures does not in our opinion make any difference and the
document it still a signed copy of the award. If anything, these words show
that document filed is a true copy of the award and as it bears the signature
of the umpire, it is a signed copy thereof. It may be added that the words
"now I hereby reproduce a true copy of the said award which is as
follows" which appear at the beginning of the document and which are
signed by the umpire Sri Dildar Hussain also in our opinion are sufficient to
show that what was produced in court was a signed copy of the award as required
by s. 14(2).
In this view of the matter, it is unnecessary
to consider the alternative argument raised on behalf of the appellant.
We therefore allow the appeal and set aside
the orders of the courts below and, holding that a signed copy of the award has
been filed as required by s. 14(2), direct that further proceedings will be
taken in the matter as required by law by the Subordinate Judge in whose court
the signed copy of the award was filed. Costs of this Court will abide the