The Hon’ble Rajasthan in a recent case, State Of Rajasthan & Anr. v. M/s. Godhara Construction Company has observed that the provisions of Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act do not apply to the proceedings contained under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
The Court remarked that the application for setting aside the arbitral award may not be made after three months having elapsed from the date on which the party making that application had received the arbitral award.
It was observed that the provision in Section 34(3) of the Act empowered the Court if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from making an application within three months to further extend the period and then filed the application for setting aside the arbitral award by 30 days but not thereafter.
In the instant case, a miscellaneous appeal was filed by the State of Rajasthan against the judgment passed by the Additional District and Session Judge Court where an objection was filed by the appellant-State of Rajasthan under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (for short ‘the Act of 1996’) against the arbitral award dated 29.07.2000 has been rejected.
A work contract was given to the respondents for renewal work of pever and Hot Mix plant in 14 Km. Length in between Kms. 100 to 149 on Agra Road, NH-11, the year 1993-94 was executed between the parties. In the agreement, it was given to resolve the dispute through an arbitration clause. During the development of the work, a dispute arose between the parties.
After hearing both sides, the arbitrator passed an award with interest on the amount from 25.04.1997 till its actual payment vide award dated 29.07.2000 and a copy of the award was forwarded to Chief Engineer, PWD (National Highway), Jaipur.
Aggrieved by the award, an application was filed before the trial court for passing a decree in terms of the award dated 29.07.2000 as the award was not satisfied. When the notices of this application were served upon the appellant-State, the appellant submitted an objection on 22.02.2001 by filing a reply of the application in respect of the award dated 29.07.2000. Since there was a delay in filing objections, hence an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act was submitted for condoning the delay.
The learned Additional District Judge, Jaipur rejected the objections vide impugned order dated 30.08.2008 and held that the objections were not filed within the time of limitation prescribed under Section 34 (3) of the Act of 1996 and also held that the objections cannot be decided on merits as they were beyond limitation.
Two main issues arose with respect to the present appeal-
- Whether the objection petition filed under Section 34 of the Act of 1996 within the period of limitation?
- Whether the delay condonable by the exercise of power under Section 5 of the Limitation Act?
The Court held the opinion that the application under Section 34(3) of the Act of 1996 filed by the appellant for setting aside the arbitral award dated 29.07.2000 was beyond the requisite period of limitation permitted under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Hence, By taking the recourse of the provisions of the Limitation Act, the same could not have been considered.
Therefore, Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand dismissed an appeal preferred by the State government.