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If you want India to become a centre for international arbitration, the initiative must come from you: Supreme Court to Central Government

“On one hand there are public speeches on making Indian an international arbitration hub and then there is no enforcement of award?” the Court questioned.

The Supreme Court on Monday criticised the Central government for not paying a sum ordered to be paid by an arbitral tribunal and stated that the government must lead efforts to make India an international arbitration hub.

The court was considering a petition seeking enforcement of a ₹7,200 crore arbitration award in favour of Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL) to be paid by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath cited public speeches on making India a centre for international arbitration and informed the Attorney General of India, R. Venkataramani, that the Supreme Court-upheld award must be followed.

“On one hand there are public speeches on making Indian an international arbitration hub and then there is no enforcement of award? The award upheld by Supreme Court has to be followed,” the Court said.

AG Venkataramani requested four weeks for the payment of the unpaid ₹4,500 crore.

Justice Gavai commented on this, saying,

“If you really want India to be made a international arbitration hub then it has to start from you, AG.”

The court then stated, when the AG attempted to argue his case,

“Mr. Attorney, this is disrespectful. The highest court upholds the judgement. Unanticipated of the Attorney. Please do not do it again.”

The issue will be discussed on Wednesday, December 14.

Framework of the case:

The current dispute stems from a 2008 agreement between the DMRC and DAMEPL to develop and operate the orange line of the Delhi Metro, which connects Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport to Dwarka Sector-21.

In March of this year, the High Court ordered DMRC to pay DAMEPL the remaining balance plus interest in two equal instalments by May 31. The Supreme Court upheld this order on May 5.

Despite the High Court’s directives, DMRC has only made a payment of ₹166.44 crore, according to DAMEPL. It stated that it has not yet been paid the remaining ₹4,427.41 crore.

Therefore, the company petitioned the court to seize DMRC’s bank accounts and other similar assets.

DMRC had informed the Delhi High Court that if it raised loans to pay the arbitration award to Anil Ambani’s DAMEPL, it would fall into a debt trap that would negatively impact millions of commuters.

AG Venkataramani, representing DMRC on Monday, stated that while it is essential to comply with the decree for payment of the award to Reliance Infrastructure-owned DAMEPL, DMRC’s concerns are equally important.

Written By: Lakshman Singh, B.B.A LL.B (Hons.), Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University, Lucknow


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