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Bombay HC: Extension of Arbitration Mandate Beyond Section 29A Deadline can be entertained

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Published on: December 04, 2023 at 16:14 IST

The Bombay High Court clarified that applications under Section 29A of the Arbitration Act, seeking an extension of the time allotted for arbitration proceedings beyond the statutory limit, can still be entertained even after the expiration of the designated period.

The case in question, Nikhil Malkan & Ors v. Standard Chartered Investment and Loans (India) Ltd, addressed the issue of extending the arbitrator’s mandate under Section 29A(4) after the expiry of the eighteen-month period specified in Section 29A(1) and (3) of the Act.

Justice Manish Pitale emphasized that the purpose of Section 29A would be defeated if the court were unable to extend the arbitrator’s mandate under Section 29A(4) after the expiration of the specified period.

The court rejected the notion that the power to extend the mandate would be rendered powerless if the application for extension was filed after the mandate’s expiry.

The court highlighted that concerns about undue delays could be addressed by ensuring that the court grants an extension only when satisfied that sufficient grounds are presented for such an extension.

The petitioner, Nikhil Malkan, had sought an extension of the arbitrator’s mandate, which had initially expired in February 2023 but was extended by consent for an additional six months.

The respondents, Standard Chartered Investment and Loans (India) Ltd, objected to the extension, citing judgments from other high courts that required the application for extension to be made before the expiry of the extended period. However, Justice Pitale disagreed with these views, rejecting the contentions raised by the respondents.

Considering that the arbitration proceedings were at an advanced stage, the court found sufficient grounds for granting a further extension of the arbitrator’s mandate. Consequently, the court extended the mandate until March 31, 2024.