Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. vs Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd. 2024 INSC 292 :: [2024] 4 S.C.R. 473 – Curative Petition – Ss 34,37 Arbitration Act – Article 136 Constitution

Curative Petition – Curative Jurisdiction may be invoked if there is a miscarriage of justice- Jurisdiction of this Court, while deciding a curative petition, extends to cases where the Court acts beyond its jurisdiction, resulting in a grave miscarriage of justice. (Para 35) – the exercise of the curative jurisdiction of this Court should not be adopted as a matter of ordinary course. The curative jurisdiction should not be used to open the floodgates and create a fourth or fifth stage of court intervention in an arbitral award, under this Court’s review jurisdiction or curative jurisdiction, respectively. (Para 70)

Constitution of India, 1950; Article 136 – Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996; Sections 34,37 – SC must interfere sparingly and only when exceptional circumstances exist, justifying the exercise of this Court’s discretion. The Court must apply settled principles of judicial review such as whether the findings of the High Court are borne out from the record or are based on a misappreciation of law and fact. In particular, this Court must be slow in interfering with a judgement delivered in exercise of powers under Section 37 unless there is an error in exercising of the jurisdiction by the Court under Section 37- Unlike the exercise of power under Section 37, which is akin to Section 34, this Court (under Article 136) must limit itself to testing whether the court acting under Section 37 exceeded its jurisdiction by failing to apply the correct tests to assail the award. (Para 43)

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996; Sections 34,37 – A judgment setting aside or refusing to set aside an arbitral award under Section 34 is appealable in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the court under Section 37 of the Arbitration Act. It has been clarified by this Court, in a line of precedent, that the jurisdiction under Section 37 of the Arbitration Act is akin to the jurisdiction of the Court under Section 34 and restricted to the same grounds of challenge as Section 34. (Para 41)

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996; Section 34– The ground of patent illegality is available for setting aside a domestic award, if the decision of the arbitrator is found to be perverse, or so irrational that no reasonable person would have arrived at it; or the construction of the contract is such that no fair or reasonable person would take; or, that the view of the arbitrator is not even a possible view.A ‘finding’ based on no evidence at all or an award which ignores vital evidence in arriving at its decision would be perverse and liable to be set aside under the head of ‘patent illegality’. An award without reasons would suffer from patent illegality. The arbitrator commits a patent illegality by deciding a matter not within his jurisdiction or violating a fundamental principle of natural justice. (Para 40)

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