Report No. 76
8.20. Section 31.-
Section 31(1) provides that subject to the provisions of the Act, an award may be filed in any court having jurisdiction in the matter to which the reference relates. The principal object of the section is to avoid conflict1 between different forums in respect of arbitration proceedings after the award,2 by denning the jurisdiction of the court.3.
Sub-section (2) of section 31 is equally mandatory; notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force and save as otherwise provided in this Act, all questions regarding the validity, effect or existence of an award or an arbitration agreement between the parties to the agreement or persons claiming under them shall be decided by the court in which the award under the agreement has been, or may be filed, and by no other court. While sub-section (1) is primarily intended to define which is a competent court, sub-section (2) is intended to exclude the jurisdiction of the other courts.
Under section 31(3), all applications regarding the conduct of arbitration proceedings or otherwise arising out of such proceedings, shall be made to the court where the award has been, or may be, filed and to no other court. This sub-section assumes that applications regarding the conduct of arbitration proceedings can be made; such applications, it may be noted, arise under several provisions of the Arbitration Act.
Section 31(4) is intended to deal with those situations where even after compliance with three sub-sections of the section, there may be two or more courts wherein proceedings under those sub-sections may be taken. It lays down that notwithstanding anything contained elsewhere in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force, where "in any reference" any application under this Act has been made in a court competent to entertain it, that court alone shall have jurisdiction over the arbitration proceedings and all subsequent applications arising out of that reference and the arbitration proceedings shall be made in that court, and in no other court. The expression "in any reference", has been construed as meaning "in the matter of a reference to arbitration".4
1. Harbans Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1962 Cal 659 (661), para. 4.
2. See also para. 8.23, infra.
3. Bengal Jute Mills v. Jewraj Hiralal, AIR 1944 Cal 304 (305).
4. Harbans Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1961 Cal 659.