Plea to attach assets of Afghanistan Embassy to satisfy 2018 arbitral award after Taliban takeover: Delhi High Court issues notice

To safeguard the interest of the decree-holder, the Court also directed Kotak Mahindra Bank to ensure that the minimum balance in accounts belonging to the Afghanistan embassy remains at least ₹ 1.8 crores.
Delhi High Court and Afghanistan
Delhi High Court and Afghanistan

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice in a plea moved by a Delhi-based construction contractor seeking the attachment of movable and immovable assets of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to satisfy a 2018 arbitral award (KLA Const Technologies Pvt Ltd. v Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan).

The application was moved by KLA Const Technologies Pvt Ltd. (applicant/ decree holder) on apprehensions about the execution of the arbitral award in view of Afghanistan being taken over by the Taliban.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait was told that as on date, ₹ 1.8 crores (including interest) was due from the Afghanistan embassy towards the satisfaction of the arbitral award.

To safeguard the interest of the decree-holder, the Court on Monday directed Kotak Mahindra Bank to ensure that the minimum balance in three accounts belonging to the Afghanistan embassy remains at least ₹ 1.8 crores (the amount due under the arbitral award).

The Embassy of Afghanistan was granted liberty to approach the Delhi High Court earlier in case of any exigency.

The arbitral award was passed in favour of the applicant in 2018. An order directing the deposit of the award was passed by the Delhi High Court on June 18, 2021.

The Court was also informed that a special leave petition against the Delhi High Court's June 18 order was pending before the Supreme Court.

Notably, the counsel for Afghanistan had written to the Registry of the Supreme Court earlier this month, seeking an adjournment in the matter considering the state of turmoil Afghanistan was in, on account of which he was unable to get instructions from the ambassador of the country and its embassy in New Delhi.

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Before the Delhi High Court as well, the counsel for Afghanistan submitted that he has no instructions from his client in the matter, and prayed for two weeks time to get instructions.

The Court, however, decided to record the assets of the Afghanistan embassy as furnished by the decree-holder while issuing notice.

It was noted that the counsel for the Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was unable to disclose its assets, despite previous directions of the High Court in 2018. Further, the current political climate in Afghanistan was also factored in while making this decision.

"Keeping in mind that the arbitral award pertains to the year 2018 and despite directions of this Court vide judgment dated 18.06.2021, learned counsel is unable to disclose assets of judgment debtor and pleads no instructions, coupled with the fact that the prevalent political situation in Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is not clear, this Court is left with no option but to take on record the details of assets of judgment debtors so furnished on behalf of decree holder in the present application", the Court said.

The matter was listed for hearing on September 13, 2021.

Advocates Dr Amit George and KK Shukla appeared for the applicant whereas Advocates Raghavendra M Bajaj, Ejaz Maqbool, Garima Bajaj, Akhriti Chaubey, Agnish Aditya and Nikhil Bamal appeared for the Afghanistan Embassy.

[Read Order]

Embassy of Afghanistan v KLA Const Technologies Pvt Ltd.).pdf
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