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  • The existence of an alternative remedy under Section 34 of the A&C Act is not a barrier to the maintainability of a Writ Petition to set aside an arbitral award that has been tainted by fraud and criminal conspiracy, according to the High Court of Chhattisgarh. 
  • A clear reading of Section 34 of the A&C Act reveals that fraud and conspiracy are not grounds for contesting an arbitral judgement, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Anup Kumar Goswami and Justice Rajendra Chandra Samant further held. 
  • The Court decided that a writ petition would be viable if the award was challenged based on fraud and conspiracy offences.
  • The Respondent purchased the appellants' properties in order to complete a Special Railway Project. The compensation due to the appellants was decided by the Additional Collector/Competent Authority. The appellants brought up arbitration as a remedy for their grievances with the amount of compensation decided by the Competent Authority. 
  • The amount of compensation paid to the appellants for the purchase of their land was increased by the Commissioner/Arbitrator. Following that, a news article detailing the errors in the purchasing procedure was published in the neighbourhood daily. After receiving the information, the district collector formed a three-person team to investigate the claim's authenticity.
  • As a result, a FIR was filed against all of the conspirators, including the appellants. The appellants then chose to file a writ petition to dismiss the FIR.
  • The Court determined that the existence of an alternative remedy under Section 34 of the A&C Act does not preclude the filing of a Writ Petition to set aside an arbitral award that has been corrupted by fraud and criminal conspiracy. 
  • According to the Court, it is clear from a plain reading of Section 34 of the A&C Act that fraud and conspiracy are not grounds for contesting an arbitral judgement. 
  • The Court decided that a writ petition would be viable if the award was challenged based on fraud and conspiracy offences.
  • The Court determined that there was no flaw in the Single Judge's decision to permit an amendment to the writ petition during final arguments since the Court had taken into account the appellants' opposition to the alteration and had heard from both parties before passing judgement. 
  • The court further pointed out that Section 34 of the A&C Act only permits the High Court's award to be overturned; however, the respondent had contested both the award and the Competent Authority's calculation of compensation, therefore the writ may still be maintained. 
  • The Court accordingly dismissed the writ appeals.
     
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