Telangana High Court: Arbitral Tribunals Determine Limitation Period, Not Courts

LI Network

Published on: February 6, 2024 at 12:42 IST

The Telangana High Court, Justice C.V. Bhaskar Reddy presiding, clarified that the determination of whether a claim is time-barred falls within the jurisdiction of Arbitral Tribunals or Arbitrators under Section 20 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

The Court underscored that Section 11(6) should be narrowly interpreted in conjunction with Section 11(9), focusing solely on appointing arbitrators based on the existence of an arbitration agreement, without delving into the merits of the case.

In a case involving East Hyderabad Expressway Limited and the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, the applicant sought the appointment of a nominee arbitrator on behalf of the respondent under Section 11(6)(a) of the Arbitration Act.

The dispute arose from delays in the construction project, leading to disagreements over entitlements under the Concession Agreement.

The Court emphasized that its role under Section 11(6) is restricted to confirming the existence of an arbitral dispute and an arbitration clause in the agreement.

Referring to relevant Supreme Court decisions, the court highlighted the legislative intent to minimize judicial interference in arbitrator appointments and avoid prejudicing parties by examining case merits.

Regarding the limitation period for filing an arbitration application, the Court noted the absence of a specific provision in the Arbitration Act and, therefore, relied on the Limitation Act, 1963. It determined that the limitation period is three years from the date of the cause of action, emphasizing that the Arbitral Tribunal should decide whether the claim is time-barred.

Since the respondent failed to appoint a nominee arbitrator within the stipulated period, the Court exercised its authority under Section 11(6) and appointed Justice V.V.S. Rao, a former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, as the nominee arbitrator on behalf of the respondent.

Case Title: East Hyderabad Expressway Limited vs The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority and another.

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