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The Delhi High Court has clarified that by virtue of the order passed by the Supreme Court on May 6, in cases where the time limit for passing of an arbitral award expired during the COVID-19 lockdown, no separate petition under Section 29A of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996, is required to be filed. (Rategain travel v. Ujjwal Suri)
The order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh.
On May 6, the Supreme Court had extended the limitation period for statutory provisions under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act with effect from March 15, until further orders.
The petitioner before the High Court had moved a plea under Section 29A of the Arbitration Act, seeking an extension of time for passing of the award by the Arbitral Tribunal.
As on March 17, the Arbitral Tirbunal was at the stage of recording of evidence. The next date and was fixed for the said purpose, during the lockdown period.
The court opined that the petitioner's case was clearly covered by the order of the Supreme Court and said,
"..where the time for passing of the award expired after 15th March 2020, the time for conclusion of proceedings and passing of award, would automatically stand extended in all arbitral proceedings for 15 days after lifting of the lockdown."
It thus ordered,
It was further stated that if the need arises, the parties would have a period of two weeks after the lockdown is lifted to approach the Court. The Court added that in the meantime, all arbitral proceedings could continue through video-conferencing, if considered feasible.
In view of the above, the time for conclusion of evidence and passing of the award in question was extended for a period of 6 months.
The petitioner was represented by Advocates Shimpy Arman Sharma.
The respondent was represented by Advocates Purnima Singh, Ajay Tandon, Dipender Chauhan, and Rajesh Harnal.
Read the Order: