Who will hear a case against a Senior Advocate?
The Chief Justice of India might have a tough time deciding the Bench to hear an appeal in the Supreme Court against Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and his proprietorship concern Rishabh Enterprises, as two more judges recused themselves from the matter today.
Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul refused to hear the matter.
“Neither of us will hear this matter”, said Justice Nariman when the case came up for hearing today as item 52 in Court 13.
Interestingly, the matter was first listed today before a Bench of Justices NV Ramana and PC Pant but then curiously got transferred from that court to Justice Nariman’s court.
Last week, Justice DY Chandrachud had recused from the matter.
The case is an appeal against a decision of the Delhi High Court on whether a dispute between Ameet Lalchand Shah and Rishabh Enterprises (which is AM Singhvi’s proprietorship concern) should be referred to arbitration or not. The case relates to four agreements between Rishabh and three other companies. Three of the four agreements had arbitration clauses.
Disputes arose between Rishabh and one of the companies, Dante. This was sought to be referred to arbitration. Rishabh and its sole proprietor – Dr. AM Singhvi – preferred a suit before the Delhi High Court, making various allegations against the companies who were arrayed as defendants in the suit.
When notice was issued to the companies in the suit by Rishabh, they contended that all agreements have to be treated as part of one transaction and are therefore, arbitrable in accordance with the express provisions contained in the three agreements.
Rishabh resisted the same contending that the suit was based upon allegations of serious fraud committed jointly and severally by the companies and these issues were not arbitrable but rather have to be decided by the civil courts. It was further argued by the Rishabh that the existence of an arbitration clause in some of the agreements could not per se drag the dispute arising out of the principal agreement into arbitration when no such stipulation was agreed to by the parties.
The single judge ruled in favour of Rishabh and Singhvi. This led to an appeal before a Division Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and IS Mehta. The Division Bench agreed with the decision of the single judge and dismissed the appeal, whereupon the companies preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Update: It has been reliably learnt that Justice NV Ramana, before whom the matter was initially listed for today, also recused from the matter. None of the four judges have given any reasons for recusing themselves from the case.