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Hindustan Construction Company … vs Union Of India on 27 November, 2019

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL/APPELLATE JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 1074 OF 2019

Hindustan Construction Company Limited …Petitioners
Anr.

Versus

Union of India Ors. …Respondents

WITH
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No.1276 of 2019
WITH
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No.1310 of 2019
WITH
M.A. NOS.2140-2144 OF 2019
IN
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 2621-2625 OF 2019

JUDGMENT

R.F. NARIMAN, J.

1. This set of Writ Petitions seek to challenge the constitutional
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by R
validity of Section 87 of the Arbitration and SectionConciliation Act, 1996
NATARAJAN
Date: 2019.11.27
16:57:45 IST
Reason:

1
(hereinafter referred to as the “SectionArbitration Act, 1996”) as inserted by

Section 13 of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act,

2019 (hereinafter referred to as the “2019 SectionAmendment Act”) and

brought into force with effect from 30.08.2019. They also seek to

challenge the repeal (with effect from 23.10.2015) of Section 26 of

the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 (hereinafter

referred to as the “2015 SectionAmendment Act”) by Section 15 of the 2019

SectionAmendment Act. Apart from the aforesaid challenge, a challenge is

also made to various provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Code, 2016 (hereinafter referred to as the “Insolvency Code”) which,

as stated by the Petitioners, result in discriminatory treatment being

meted out to them.

2. The facts relevant for the determination of these matters may

be gleaned from Writ Petition (Civil) No.1074 of 2019. The Petitioner

No.1 therein, i.e. Hindustan Construction Company Limited, is an

infrastructure construction company involved in the business of

construction of public-utilities and projects like roads, bridges,

hydropower and nuclear plants, tunnels and rail facilities. The

2
Petitioner company, inter alia, undertakes these building projects as

a contractor for government bodies such as the National Highways

Authority of India (“NHAI”, i.e. Respondent No.5 in the Writ Petition),

NHPC Ltd. (“NHPC”, i.e. Respondent No.6), NTPC Ltd. (“NTPC”, i.e.

Respondent No.8), IRCON International Ltd. (“IRCON”, i.e.

Respondent No.7) and the Public Works Department (“PWD”). Such

projects are allotted to the Petitioner through the public tendering

system. As Government bodies are owners and beneficiaries of

such projects, cost overrun is almost invariably disputed by these

bodies, leading to huge delays in the recovery of the legitimate dues

of the petitioners. Also, these dues can only be recovered through

civil proceedings or through arbitrations.

3. Arbitration awards that are in favour of the Petitioner

company are invariably challenged under Sections 34 and Section37 of the

Arbitration Act, 1996, and on average, more than 6 years are spent

in defending these challenges. The major problem in the way of the

Petitioners is that the moment a challenge is made under Section

3
Section34, there is an ‘automatic-stay’ of such awards under the SectionArbitration

Act, 1996.

4. The Petitioners are then subjected to a double-whammy.

Government bodies other than Government companies are exempt

from the Insolvency Code because they are statutory authorities or

government departments. Even if they can be said to be operational

debtors – which is not the case – the moment a challenge is filed to

an award under Section 34 and/or Section 37 of the Arbitration Act,

1996, such debt becomes a ‘disputed debt’ under the judgments of

this Court, and proceedings initiated under the Insolvency Code at

the behest of the Petitioner company, not being maintainable in any

case, would be dismissed at the threshold. Huge sums of money are

therefore due from all these companies/government/government

bodies to the Petitioners.

5. On the other hand, in order that the Petitioner company

continue to operate, the Petitioner owes large sums to operational

creditors for supplying men, machinery and material for the projects.

It is stated in the Writ Petition No.1074 of 2019 that Demand Notices

4
have been issued to the Petitioner by a large number of operational

creditors for sums amounting to over a hundred crores.

6. Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, learned Senior Advocate

appearing on behalf of the Petitioner No.1 in Writ Petition No.1074

of 2019, has argued that the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 is based upon the

UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (as

adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade

Law on 21 June 1985) (hereinafter referred to as the “UNCITRAL

Model Law”), SectionArticle 36(2) of which specifically refers to applications

for setting aside or suspension of an award, in which the other party

may provide appropriate security. Contrary to SectionArticle 36 of the

UNCITRAL Model Law, Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 has

been construed by judgments of this Court as granting an

‘automatic-stay’ the moment a Section 34 application is filed within

time. According to the learned Senior Advocate, from the plain

language of Section 36, automatic-stay does not follow, and the

judgments of this Court which have so held would require a revisit

by this larger bench. In any case, the 246th Report of the Law

5
Commission of India titled, ‘Amendments to the Arbitration and

SectionConciliation Act, 1996’ (August, 2014) (hereinafter referred to as the

“246th Law Commission Report”) recommended that Section 36 be

amended, which was in fact done by the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, so

that automatic-stays are now things of the past. However, despite

the fact that the 2015 SectionAmendment Act made large-scale changes to

the SectionArbitration Act, 1996, keeping in view the objects of the

SectionArbitration Act, 1996 of minimum judicial intervention, speedy

determination and recovery of amounts contained in arbitral awards,

yet, another ‘High-Level Committee to Review the Institutionalisation

of Arbitration Mechanism in India’ headed by Retd. Justice B.N.

Srikrishna by its report dated 30.07.2017 (hereinafter referred to as

the “Srikrishna Committee Report”) opined that the 2015

SectionAmendment Act should not apply to pending court proceedings

which have commenced after 23.10.2015 (i.e. the date of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act coming into force), but should only apply in case

arbitral proceedings have themselves been commenced post

23.10.2015, which would include court proceedings relating thereto.

He argued that the Government of India issued a Press Release on

6
07.03.2018 to enact a new Section 87 in accord with what the

Srikrishna Committee Report had opined, which was pointed out to

this Court before it decided the case of BCCI v. Kochi Cricket Pvt.

Ltd. (2018) 6 SCC 287 (which was decided on 15.03.2018). Despite

the fact that this Court specifically opined in the said judgment that

the aforesaid provision would be contrary to the object of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act, and despite the fact that the judgment was

specifically sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice and to the

learned Attorney General for India, Section 87 was enacted,

reference being made only to the Srikrishna Committee Report,

without even a mention of the aforesaid judgment of this Court in

BCCI (supra). Consequently, the learned Senior Advocate argued

that since the basis of a judgment of the Supreme Court can only be

removed if there is a pointed reference to the said judgment,

obviously the judgment of this Court has been sought to be directly

overturned without removing its basis. Further, Section 87 flies in the

face of not only the object of the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 as a whole

and the objects for enacting the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, but is also

contrary to Section 35 of the Arbitration Act, 1996. He has stated

7
that it is amazing that in a Civil Court where a full-blooded appeal is

filed, Order XLI Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

(hereinafter referred to as the “CPC”) is to apply, there being no

automatic-stay of a money decree; whereas in a summary

proceeding under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996, where the

court does not sit in appeal over the award – and if the view of the

arbitrator is a possible view, it passes muster – there is an

automatic-stay of an arbitral award on the mere filing of Section 34

application, which in turn takes years for final disposal.

7. Dr. Singhvi then trained his guns against Section 87, stating

that it is violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(g), 21 and 300-A of the

Constitution of India, as it is contrary to the object of the principal

SectionArbitration Act, 1996 itself; takes away the vested right of

enforcement and binding nature of an arbitral award; and without

removing the basis of the BCCI judgment (supra), acts in the teeth

of the said judgment, making the said section unreasonable,

excessive, disproportionate as well as arbitrary. He then argued that

in effect, the 2019 SectionAmendment Act reverses the beneficial effects of

8
the 2015 SectionAmendment Act which remedied the original mischief

contained in the SectionArbitration Act, 1996, that too after a period of more

than 19 years. To bring back this mischief of automatic-stays would

result in manifest arbitrariness, rendering the provision

constitutionally infirm. He argued that the Srikrishna Committee

Report also did not take into account the enforcement of the

Insolvency Code. On the one hand, arbitral awards for crores of

rupees will get automatically stayed through the application of

Section 87, and on the other hand, non-payment of any amount

beyond INR one lakh by the Petitioner to its operational creditors

would render it open to being declared insolvent. The absurd

consequence of this is that the fruits of an award are denied to the

Petitioner, resulting in financial hardship, which in turn results in

applications being filed against the Petitioner under the Insolvency

Code for lesser amounts than what is due to it as an award-holder.

Further, the retrospective resurrection of the automatic-stay

provision allows award-debtors who have challenged arbitral awards

before the Courts, and who have in fact made payments to award-

holders, to now claim the aforesaid sums back from such award-

9
holders. For all these reasons, it is contended that Section 87 is

constitutionally infirm. Also, according to Dr. Singhvi, since almost all

the arbitration clauses with Government/Government Bodies state

that the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 together with its amendments shall

apply, this would make the 2019 SectionAmendment Act applicable to its

pending arbitral awards, resulting in wholly arbitrary consequences.

8. So far as the challenge to the Insolvency Code is concerned,

Dr. Singhvi exhorted us to read ‘corporate person’, as defined by

Section 3(7) of the Insolvency Code, to include Government Bodies

other than Government Companies (which are already included).

This was based on the argument that qua the object sought to be

achieved by the Insolvency Code, it makes no difference as to

whether the person sued as a corporate person is a government

company or a body corporate set up under a statute. He exhorted us

to either delete the words ‘limited liability’ contained in Section 3(7)

of the Code, or read Section 3(23)(g) of the Code into Section 3(7),

and relied upon judgments which stressed the ‘positive’ aspect of

SectionArticle 14 of the Constitution of India, which permit such

10
interpretation. He then pointed out that whereas ‘financial position’

(as defined under Section 5(9) of the Insolvency Code) mandates

taking into consideration the financial information and balance

sheets, such financial position is irrelevant at the stage of triggering

the Insolvency Code, and only becomes relevant at the stage of

declaring such position to prospective resolution applicants, which

itself makes the provision manifestly arbitrary. He then argued as to

the omission of initiation of the resolution process by a creditor in

Section 6 of the Insolvency Code, together with the absence of a

mechanism for forcing debtors of a corporate debtor to make

payments to avoid insolvency of such corporate debtors. He then

referred to the principle of ‘casus omissus’ and how the modern view

is that such casus omissus can be supplied by the Courts, so as to

save the provisions of the Insolvency Code from the vice of manifest

arbitrariness. He also argued that there is no level playing field so

far as his client is concerned, as a statutory authority can initiate the

resolution process against persons like his client, but not vice-versa.

He then made an impassioned plea that, in any event, this Court

ought to follow its earlier judgments and restate the principle that

11
payment of a money-decree under an award, even when under

challenge, is the rule – stay being the exception. Also in cases like

the present, even if deposits are made as a condition of stay of

money-decrees, withdrawal ought to be permitted – not on onerous

conditions such as bank guarantees – but on other conditions such

as corporate guarantees and the like, so that such monies are

available for payment to other creditors, including operational

creditors, who are free to invoke the Insolvency Code against the

Petitioner.

9. Dr. Singhvi then argued that his client was forced to avail of

the NITI Aayog’s Office Memorandum No.14070/14/2016-PPPAU

dated 05.09.2016 (hereinafter referred to as the “NITI Aayog

Scheme”) given the fact that the moment arbitral awards were

passed in his client’s favour, they were challenged under Section 34

of the Arbitration Act, 1996 as a result of which, there was an

automatic-stay. Thus, under the said NITI Aayog Scheme, his client

in order to retrieve amounts payable under such awards, was able to

get 75% of a “pay-out amount”, which is the amount for which the

12
award has been announced, plus payment of interest. This can only

be done against a bank guarantee of the equivalent amount.

However, apart from such bank guarantee, an additional bank

guarantee of 10% per year on the pay-out amount would also have

to be given, which is then compounded annually. According to him,

given the fact that 75% of such pay-out amount can only be

released on the bank guarantee of the equivalent amount, asking for

anything over and above this would amount to an arbitrary exercise

of power, which is liable to be struck down. Dr. Singhvi contended

that this extra amount of 10% per annum, being severable, can be

struck down without otherwise impacting the NITI Aayog Scheme.

10. Shri Neeraj Kishan Kaul, also appearing for Hindustan

Construction Company, reiterated some of the submissions of Dr.

Singhvi and argued, based on a reading of Section 87 as introduced

by the 2019 SectionAmendment Act and Section 26 of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act, that Section 87 is nothing but a re-hash of Section

26 and this being so, is therefore a direct attack on the judgment of

this Court in BCCI (supra), without removing its basis. He also

13
added that since there is no set-off mechanism provided by the

Insolvency Code, the provisions of the Insolvency Code will have to

be held to be manifestly arbitrary so far as his client is concerned, to

this extent.

11. Shri C.A. Sundaram, learned Senior Advocate appearing for

M/s Patel Engineering Ltd. in I.A. No. 157742 of 2019 in W.P (C) No.

1074 of 2019, reiterated the submissions that Section 87, being

directly contrary to this Court’s judgment in BCCI (supra), needs to

be set aside. He also argued that it retrospectively removes a vested

right in the petitioner, as is reflected in paragraph 62 and 63 of the

BCCI judgment (supra).

12. Shri Ritin Rai, learned Senior Advocate appearing for M/s

Gammon Engineers and Contractors Private Limited, i.e. the

Petitioner No.1 in W.P.(C) 1276 of 2019, pointed out various

paragraphs of the Counter-Affidavit of the Union of India to show

that there is no real answer to the submission that Section 87

directly interferes with the judgment of this Court in BCCI (supra),

and that the introduction of Section 87 is manifestly arbitrary. In any

14
case, he relied upon Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 to

save the application of Section 36 as amended by the 2015

SectionAmendment Act. When it came to the provisions of the Insolvency

Code, he referred to this Court’s judgment in SectionMobilox Innovations

Pvt. Ltd. v. Kirusa Software Pvt. Ltd. (2018) 1 SCC 353 and

stated that Section 5(6) of the Insolvency Code, which defines

‘disputes’, read with Section 8(2) of the Insolvency Code, would

make it clear that there is no bar to applying an Order VIII-A of the

CPC type procedure to proceedings under the Insolvency Code, so

that when his client’s sub-contractor triggers the Insolvency Code

against his client, his client in-turn should be able to make its

principal employer a party to such proceedings, so that the sub-

contractor may then recover these amounts from the principal

employer directly, thereby absolving his client from the clutches of

the Insolvency Code.

13. Shri Nakul Dewan, learned Senior Advocate appearing on

behalf of M/s Gangotri Enterprises Limited, i.e. the Petitioner No.1 in

W.P. (C) No. 1310 of 2019, referred copiously to the UNCITRAL

15
Model Law and stated that under the UNCITRAL Model Law, in case

an award were to be passed, whether domestic or international, in

the same country, two bites at the cherry would be available: one at

the time of setting aside the award, and one at the time of

recognition and enforcement. SectionThe Arbitration Act, 1996 has not

followed this model and has a far more robust enforcement regime,

as Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 mandates that once an

award can be said to be final, it can be executed in the manner

provided by the CPC.

14. Mr. Dewan then went on to state that Section 87 destroyed a

level playing field in relation to enforcement of arbitral awards, by re-

imposing an arbitrary cut-off date qua application of the amended

Section 36. He then argued that even though Section 15 of the 2019

SectionAmendment Act has deleted Section 26 of the 2015 SectionAmendment

Act, this has not changed the basis on which the judgment in BCCI

(supra) was delivered, as there is no vested right to resist the

enforcement of an arbitral award, and that arbitration proceedings

and court proceedings are distinct sets of proceedings as

16
recognized by Section 87 itself. Further, classification of parties on

the basis of this cut-off date has no rational nexus to the object

sought to be achieved by the SectionArbitration Act, 1996. Finally, he urged

that the Counter-Affidavit filed by the Union of India, after referring to

this Court’s judgment, then mouthed the same reasons for

introducing Section 87 as were in the Srikrishna Committee Report,

which was prior to, and could not have taken into account, this

Court’s judgment in BCCI (supra). Therefore, to state that even after

this Court settled the law in BCCI (supra) there would still be

‘uncertainty’ would itself show that the provision contained in Section

87 would be manifestly arbitrary. He then argued, based on a

treatise by Ian F. Fletcher on the law of insolvency, that a distinction

is made in insolvency law between refusal to pay, and inability to

pay. Since the automatic-stay provision would render persons like

his client unable to pay debts, his client, though otherwise financially

healthy, would suddenly become vulnerable to being declared

insolvent under the Insolvency Code.

17

15. The learned Attorney General for India, Shri K.K. Venugopal,

defended the repeal of Section 26 of the 2015 Arbitration

Amendment and the insertion of Section 87 into the SectionArbitration Act,

1996 by the 2019 SectionAmendment Act. He argued that in BCCI’s case

(supra), the interpretation of Section 26 of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act

is only declaratory in nature. Since the said judgment neither sets

aside any executive action, nor any provision of a statute, it does not

require a validating act to neutralise its effect. It is open to

Parliament, if it finds that a view expressed by the Apex Court does

not reflect its original intent, to clarify its original intent through

amendment. This is in fact what was done by deleting Section 26 of

the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, and inserting Section 87 into the

SectionArbitration Act, 1996. He relied on the clarificatory aspect of the

amendment by referring to paragraph 6(vi) of the Statement of

Objects and Reasons to the Arbitration and Conciliation

(Amendment) Bill, 2019. In any event, even if the principles

governing validating acts are applied, the deletion of Section 26

retrospectively removes the basis of the judgment in the BCCI case

(supra). Further, there is no substance to the challenge to Section

18
Section87 on the ground of the date being fixed as 23.10.2015, as cut-off

dates have been upheld in a plethora of cases as being within the

exclusive domain of Parliament, and the courts should not normally

interfere with the fixation of such cut-off date, unless blatantly

arbitrary or discriminatory. He referred to some of our judgments in

support of this proposition.

16. Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General of India,

defending the constitutional challenge to the provisions of the

Insolvency Code, argued that a Writ Petition filed under SectionArticle 32 of

the Constitution of India cannot be converted into a recovery

proceeding by the Petitioners. According to Shri Mehta, the conduct

of the Petitioner No.1 in W.P. (C) 1074 of 2019 is such that the Writ

Petition ought to be dismissed at the threshold itself. First and

foremost, it was contended that the petitioner has mislead this Court

by stating that a sum of INR 6070 crores is liable to be paid by the

Government entities mentioned therein, as such sums amount to

awards that have not been stayed by any Court. He referred to and

relied upon a chart appended to the Counter-Affidavit of the Union of

19
India dated 21.10.2019, in which he was at pains to point out that in

each of the awards in favour of the Petitioner No.1 in Writ Petition

No.1074 of 2019, the contract value was much less than the actual

amount paid on completion of work, in addition to which, deposit

orders have been passed by courts in all these cases, which have

not been appealed against. He further argued that there was a gross

suppression of facts and figures by Petitioner No.1, as a result of

which the Writ Petition ought to be dismissed at the threshold. He

contended that what was deliberately hidden by the Petitioner No.1

was the fact that the Respondent Public Sector Undertakings

(hereinafter referred to as “PSUs”) have deposited/paid substantial

amounts that are due against them under arbitral awards, amounting

percentage wise to 83.3%. He also pointed out that insofar as

IRCON is concerned, in relation to one particular arbitral award,

IRCON has accused the Petitioner No.1 of trying to influence the

arbitrator by providing unsolicited facilities to the arbitrator, and

actually getting orders drafted on behalf of the arbitrator by the

lawyer of the Petitioners and otherwise providing undue favours to

the arbitrator; all of which is the subject matter of adjudication

20
pending in the Delhi High Court. When it came to the challenge to

the Insolvency Code, he argued that except for the sums owing

under some arbitral awards, none of the PSUs have any other dues

that are owing to the Petitioner No.1. He also pointed out that

whether a person is an operational creditor has to be decided based

upon the fact situation in each case. The very fundamental basis of

the Petitioner’s argument that the Insolvency Code is

unconstitutional because it does not give the Petitioners a right to

recover monies from their debtors – and that the same Insolvency

Code gives the debtor a right to recover from the Petitioner No.1 – is

flawed, because the Insolvency Code is not a statute for recovery of

debts, but is a statute for reorganisation of corporate persons and

resolution of stressed assets of corporate persons. According to

him, three of the five entities who have arbitral awards against them,

namely NTPC, NHPC and IRCON, are Government Companies,

which certainly fall within the definition of ‘corporate person’ and

‘corporate debtor’ under Section 3(7) and 3(8) of the Insolvency

Code. So far as the NHAI is concerned, he referred to the Statement

of Objects and Reasons of the National Highways Authority of India

21
Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as the “NHAI Act”) and some

sections of the said Act to show that NHAI is a statutory body which

functions as an extended limb of the Central Government, and which

is to carry out the sovereign function of laying down national

highways. Obviously, the Insolvency Code cannot be used against

such a statutory body, because no resolution professional or private

individual can take over the management of such body, as it

performs sovereign functions, nor can such body be driven to

insolvency under an Insolvency Code. He also referred to the

definitions contained in Section 3(7) and 3(23) of the Insolvency

Code, and stated that they are separate and independent of each

other, Section 3(7) lifting only two out of seven entities mentioned in

Section 3(23). Thus, being mutually exclusive, nothing from Section

3(23) which defines ‘person’ can possibly be imported into Section

3(7) which defines ‘corporate person’. He further argued that this

Court’s judgment in SectionK. Kishan v. Vijay Nirman Company Pvt. Ltd.

(2018) 17 SCC 662 made it clear that arbitral awards that are

pending adjudication under Section 34 would show that a pre-

existing dispute exists in such cases, and therefore would in any

22
case be outside the strong arm of the law contained in the

Insolvency Code.

17. Ms. Pinky Anand, learned Additional Solicitor General,

supported the submissions of both the learned Attorney General and

the Solicitor General. She further argued, based on a copious

reading of the Counter-Affidavit filed on behalf of the Union of India,

that no inroads have been made into the objects sought to be

achieved by the 2015 SectionAmendment Act by merely following a

particular cut-off date. In any case, the fixing of such cut-off date,

being the sole prerogative of the Parliament, cannot be interfered

with by the courts as this pertains to policy matters. She also cited

some judgments of this Court to buttress her submissions.

Interpretation of Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996

18. At the outset, it is important to advert to Section 36 of the

Arbitration Act, 1996 and the judgments interpreting it. Section 36

(prior to the 2015 SectionAmendment Act) stated as follows:

“36. Enforcement.—Where the time for
making an application to set aside the arbitral
award under section 34 has expired, or such

23
application having been made, it has been
refused, the award shall be enforced under the
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) in
the same manner as if it were a decree of the
Court.”

19. The UNCITRAL Model Law is important in understanding the

provisions of the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 as the said Act is explicitly

based upon it. The preamble of the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 specifically

states as follows:

“Preamble. — WHEREAS the United Nations
Commission on International Trade Law
(UNCITRAL) has adopted the UNCITRAL
Model Law on International Commercial
Arbitration in 1985; AND

WHEREAS the General Assembly of the
United Nations has recommended that all
countries give due consideration to the said
Model Law, in view of the desirability of
uniformity of the law of arbitral procedures and
the specific needs of international commercial
arbitration practice;

AND WHEREAS the UNCITRAL has adopted
the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules in 1980;

AND

WHEREAS the General Assembly of the
United Nations has recommended the use of
the said Rules in cases where a dispute arises
in the context of international commercial
relations and the parties seek an amicable

24
settlement of that dispute by recourse to
conciliation;

AND WHEREAS the said Model Law and
Rules make significant contribution to the
establishment of a unified legal framework for
the fair and efficient settlement of disputes
arising in international commercial relations;

AND WHEREAS it is expedient to make law
respecting arbitration and conciliation, taking
into account the aforesaid Model Law and
Rules.”

20. As a matter of fact, the judgment in SectionChloro Controls (I) Pvt.

Ltd. v. Seven Trent Water Purification Inc. (2013) 1 SCC 641

says as much in paragraph 93 thereof, which reads as under:

“93. As noticed above, the legislative intent
and essence of the 1996 Act was to bring
domestic as well as international commercial
arbitration in consonance with
the UNCITRAL Model Rules, the New York
Convention and the Geneva Convention. The
New York Convention was physically before
the legislature and available for its
consideration when it enacted the 1996 Act.

Article II of the Convention provides that each
contracting State shall recognise an
agreement and submit to arbitration all or any
differences which have arisen or which may
arise between them in respect of a defined
legal relationship, whether contractual or not
concerning a subject-matter capable of
settlement by arbitration. Once the agreement

25
is there and the court is seized of an action in
relation to such subject-matter, then on the
request of one of the parties, it would refer the
parties to arbitration unless the agreement is
null and void, inoperative or incapable of
performance.”

21. What is important so far as the UNCITRAL Model Law is

concerned is SectionArticle 36(2) thereof, which states as follows:

“SectionArticle 36. Grounds for refusing recognition or
enforcement-

xxx xxx xxx

(2) If an application for setting aside or
suspension of an award has been made to a
court referred to in paragraph (1)(a)(v) of this
article, the court where recognition or
enforcement is sought may, if it considers it
proper, adjourn its decision and may also, on
the application of the party claiming
recognition or enforcement of the award, order
the other party to provide appropriate
security.”

22. Shri Dewan has argued that under the UNCITRAL Model

Law, Articles 34 and 35 provide for two bites at the cherry: (i) in

cases in which an award is sought to be set aside, and (ii) thereafter

when not set aside, sought to be recognised and enforced in the

same country in which it has been made. He is right in stating that

26
Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 does not follow the two bites

at the cherry doctrine, for the reason that when an award made in

India becomes final and binding, it shall straightaway be enforced

under the CPC, and in the same manner as if it were a decree of the

Court, there being no recourse to the self-same grounds when it

comes to recognition and enforcement. In point of fact, the raison

d’etre for Section 36 is only to make it clear that when an arbitral

award is not susceptible to challenge, either because the time for

making an application to set it aside has expired, or such application

having been made is refused, the award, being final and binding,

shall be enforced under the CPC as if it were a decree of the court.

This becomes clear when Section 36 and Section35 of the Arbitration Act,

1996 are read together. Section 35 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 reads

as follows:

“35. Finality of arbitral awards.- Subject to
this Part an arbitral award shall be final and
binding on the parties and persons claiming
under them respectively.”

27

23. However, in SectionNational Aluminum Company Ltd. (NALCO) v.

Pressteel Fabrications (P) Ltd. and Anr. 2004 1 SCC 540, this

Court held:

“10…At one point of time, considering the
award as a money decree, we were inclined to
direct the party to deposit the awarded amount
in the court below so that the applicant can
withdraw it, on such terms and conditions as
the said court might permit it to do as an
interim measure. But then we noticed from the
mandatory language of Section 34 of the 1996
Act, that an award, when challenged under
Section 34 within the time stipulated therein,
becomes unexecutable. There is no discretion
left with the court to pass any interlocutory
order in regard to the said award except to
adjudicate on the correctness of the claim
made by the applicant therein. Therefore, that
being the legislative intent, any direction from
us contrary to that, also becomes
impermissible. On facts of this case, there
being no exceptional situation which would
compel us to ignore such statutory provision,
and to use our jurisdiction under SectionArticle 142,
we restrain ourselves from passing any such
order, as prayed for by the applicant.

11. However, we do notice that this automatic
suspension of the execution of the award, the
moment an application challenging the said
award is filed under Section 34 of the Act
leaving no discretion in the court to put the
parties on terms, in our opinion, defeats the
very objective of the alternate dispute

28
resolution system to which arbitration belongs.

We do find that there is a recommendation
made by the Ministry concerned to Parliament
to amend Section 34 with a proposal to
empower the civil court to pass suitable
interim orders in such cases. In view of the
urgency of such amendment, we sincerely
hope that necessary steps would be taken by
the authorities concerned at the earliest to
bring about the required change in law.”

24. When this court speaks of “the mandatory language of

Section 34” of the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 obviously what is meant is

the language of Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996, as noted by

SectionNational Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd. v. Lloyds

Insulation India Ltd. (2005) 2 SCC 367 (in paragraph 6). SectionIn Fiza

Developers and Inter-trade Pvt. Ltd. v. AMCI (India) Pvt. Ltd.

and Anr. (2009) 17 SCC 796, this Court held:

“20. Section 36 provides that an award shall
be enforced in the same manner as if it were a
decree of the court, but only on the expiry of
the time for making an application to set aside
the arbitral award under Section 34, or such
application having been made, only after it has
been refused. Thus, until the disposal of the
application under Section 34 of the Act, there
is an implied prohibition of enforcement of the
arbitral award. The very filing and pendency of
an application under Section 34, in effect,

29
operates as a stay of the enforcement of the
award.”

25. To state that an award when challenged under Section 34

becomes unexecutable merely by virtue of such challenge being

made because of the language of Section 36 is plainly incorrect. As

has been pointed out hereinabove, Section 36 was enacted for a

different purpose. When read with Section 35, all that Section 36

states is that enforcement of a final award will be under the CPC,

and in the same manner as if it were a decree of the Court. In fact,

this is how Section 36 has been read by a three-judge bench in

SectionLeela Hotels Ltd. V. Housing and Urban Development

Corporation Ltd. (2012) 1 SCC 302 as follows:

“45. Regarding the question as to whether the
award of the learned arbitrator tantamounts to
a decree or not, the language used in Section
36 of the Arbitration and SectionConciliation Act,
1996, makes it very clear that such an award
has to be enforced under the Code of Civil
Procedure in the same manner as it were a
decree of the court. The said language leaves
no room for doubt as to the manner in which
the award of the learned arbitrator was to be
accepted.”

30

26. To read Section 36 as inferring something negative, namely,

that where the time for making an application under Section 34 has

not expired and therefore, on such application being made within

time, an automatic-stay ensues, is to read something into Section 36

which is not there at all. Also, this construction omits to consider the

rest of Section 36, which deals with applications under Section 34

that have been dismissed, which leads to an award being final and

binding (when read with Section 35 of the Arbitration Act, 1996)

which then becomes enforceable under the CPC, the award being

treated as a decree for this purpose.

27. This also finds support from the language of Section 9 of the

Arbitration Act, 1996, which specifically enables a party to apply to a

Court for reliefs “…after the making of the arbitration award but

before it is enforced in accordance with Section 36.” The decisions

in NALCO (supra) and Fiza Developers and Intra-trade Pvt. Ltd.

(supra) overlook this statutory position. These words in Section 9

have not undergone any change by reason of the 2015 or 2019

SectionAmendment Acts.

31

28. Interpreting Section 9 of the Arbitration Act, 1996, a Division

Bench of the Bombay High Court in SectionDirk India Pvt. Ltd. v.

Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd. 2013 SCC

Online Bom 481 held that:

“13….The second facet of Section 9 is the
proximate nexus between the orders that are
sought and the arbitral proceedings. When an
interim measure of protection is sought before
or during arbitral proceedings, such a measure
is a step in aid to the fruition of the arbitral
proceedings. When sought after an arbitral
award is made but before it is enforced, the
measure of protection is intended to safeguard
the fruit of the proceedings until the eventual
enforcement of the award. Here again the
measure of protection is a step in aid of
enforcement. It is intended to ensure that
enforcement of the award results in a
realisable claim and that the award is not
rendered illusory by dealings that would put
the subject of the award beyond the pale of
enforcement.”

29. This being the legislative intent, the observation in NALCO

(supra) that once a Section 34 application is filed, “there is no

discretion left with the Court to pass any interlocutory order in regard

to the said Award…” flies in the face of the opening words of Section

9 of the Arbitration Act, 1996, extracted above.

32

30. Thus, the reasoning of the judgments in NALCO (supra), and

Fiza Developers and Intra-trade Pvt. Ltd. (supra) being per

incuriam in not noticing Sections 9, Section35 and the second part of

Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996, do not commend themselves

to us and do not state the law correctly.1 The fact that NALCO

(supra) has been followed in SectionNational Buildings Construction

Corporation Ltd. v. Lloyds Insulation India Ltd. (supra) does not

take us any further, as National Buildings Construction

Corporation Ltd. (supra) in following NALCO (supra), a per

incuriam judgement, also does not state the law correctly. Thus, it is

clear that the automatic-stay of an award, as laid down by these
1
In NALCO (supra), this Court was concerned with two questions – the
second question being whether the appropriate Court, for the purpose of
challenging or seeking modification of an award, was the Supreme
Court, or the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction under Section
2(e) of the Arbitration Act, 1996. This Court held, distinguishing SectionState of
M.P. v. Saith and Skeleton (P) Ltd. (1972) 1 SCC 702 and SectionGuru
Nanak Foundation v. Rattan Singh and Sons. (1981) 4 SCC 634, that
the Court which had jurisdiction to modify and/or set aside the award
was not the Supreme Court. On this point, NALCO (supra) has
subsequently been followed by a number of judgments and continues to
be good law. Also, the ratio of the judgment in Fiza Developers and
Intra-trade Pvt. Ltd. (supra) on the construction of Section 34 of the
Arbitration Act, 1996 relating to the framing of issues and pleadings and
proof required in Section 34 proceedings remains untouched by the
present judgment.

33
decisions, is incorrect. The resultant position is that Section 36 –

even as originally enacted – is not meant to do away with SectionArticle

36(2) of the UNCITRAL Model Law, but is really meant to do away

with the two bites at the cherry doctrine in the context of awards

made in India, and the fact that enforcement of a final award, when

read with Section 35, is to be under the CPC, treating the award as

if it were a decree of the court.

31. In any event, on this aspect of the case, the BCCI judgment

(supra) referred, in paragraph 25 thereof, to the 246th Law

Commission Report on Section 36 as follows:

“25. At this point, it is instructive to refer to the
246th Law Commission Report which led to
the SectionAmendment Act. This Report, which was
handed over to the Government in August
2014, had this to state on why it was
proposing to replace Section 36 of the 1996
Act:

“AUTOMATIC STAY OF ENFORCEMENT OF THE
AWARD UPON ADMISSION OF CHALLENGE

“43. Section 36 of the Act makes it clear that
an arbitral award becomes enforceable as a
decree only after the time for filing a petition
under Section 34 has expired or after the
Section 34 petition has been dismissed. In
other words, the pendency of a Section 34

Section34
petition renders an arbitral award
unenforceable. The Supreme Court,
in SectionNational Aluminium Co. Ltd. v. Pressteel
Fabrications (P) Ltd. [National Aluminium Co.
Ltd. v. Pressteel Fabrications (P) Ltd.,
(2004) 1 SCC 540] held that by virtue of
Section 36, it was impermissible to pass an
order directing the losing party to deposit any
part of the award into Court. While this
decision was in relation to the powers of the
Supreme Court to pass such an order under
Section 42, the Bombay High Court in Afcons
Infrastructure Ltd. v. Port of Mumbai [Afcons
Infrastructure Ltd. v. Port of Mumbai, (2014) 1
Arb LR 512 (Bom)] applied the same principle
to the powers of a court under Section 9 of the
Act as well. Admission of a Section 34 petition,
therefore, virtually paralyses the process for
the winning party/award creditor.

44. The Supreme Court, in National
Aluminium [National Aluminium Co.

SectionLtd. v. Pressteel Fabrications (P) Ltd.,
(2004) 1 SCC 540] , has criticised the present
situation in the following words: (SCC p. 546,
para 11)

‘11. However, we do notice that this automatic
suspension of the execution of the award, the
moment an application challenging the said
award is filed under Section 34 of the Act
leaving no discretion in the court to put the
parties on terms, in our opinion, defeats the
very objective of the alternate dispute
resolution system to which arbitration belongs.
We do find that there is a recommendation
made by the Ministry concerned to Parliament

35
to amend Section 34 with a proposal to
empower the civil court to pass suitable
interim orders in such cases. In view of the
urgency of such amendment, we sincerely
hope that necessary steps would be taken by
the authorities concerned at the earliest to
bring about the required change in law.’

45. In order to rectify this mischief, certain
amendments have been suggested by the
Commission to Section 36 of the Act, which
provide that the award will not become
unenforceable merely upon the making of an
application under Section 34.”

It then further went on to state:

“62…Since it is clear that execution of a
decree pertains to the realm of procedure, and
that there is no substantive vested right in a
judgment-debtor to resist execution, Section
36, as substituted, would apply even to
pending Section 34 applications on the date of
commencement of the SectionAmendment Act.”

The Court then commented on this Court’s judgment in NALCO

(supra) as follows:

“67. In 2004, this Court’s judgment in National
Aluminium Co. [National Aluminium Co.

SectionLtd. v. Pressteel Fabrications (P) Ltd.,
(2004) 1 SCC 540] had recommended that
Section 36 be substituted, as it defeats the
very objective of the alternative dispute
resolution system, and that the section should
be amended at the earliest to bring about the

36
required change in law. It would be clear that
looking at the practical aspect and the nature
of rights presently involved, and the sheer
unfairness of the unamended provision, which
granted an automatic stay to execution of an
award before the enforcement process of
Section 34 was over (and which stay could
last for a number of years) without having to
look at the facts of each case, it is clear that
Section 36 as amended should apply to
Section 34 applications filed before the
commencement of the SectionAmendment Act also
for the aforesaid reasons.”
(emphasis supplied)

32. Section 36, as amended by the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, now

reads as follows:

“36. Enforcement –(1) Where the time for
making an application to set aside the arbitral
award under Sectionsection 34 has expired, then,
subject to the provisions of sub-section (2),
such award shall be enforced in accordance
with the provisions of the Code of Civil
Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), in the same
manner as if it were a decree of the court.

(2) Where an application to set aside the
arbitral award has been under Sectionsection 34, the
filing of such an application shall not by itself
render that award unenforceable, unless the
Court grants an order of stay of the operation
of the said arbitral award in accordance with

37
the provisions of sub-section (3), on a
separate application made for that purpose.

(3) Upon filing of an application under sub-
section (2) for stay of the operation of the
arbitral award, the Court may, subject to such
conditions as it may deem fit, grant stay of the
operation of such award for reasons to be
recorded in writing:

Provided that the Court shall, while
considering the application for grant of stay in
the case of an arbitral award for payment of
money, have due regard to the provisions for
grant of stay of a money decree under the
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure,
1908 (5 of 1908).”

Given the fact that we have declared that the judgments in NALCO

(supra), National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd.

(supra) and Fiza Developers (supra) have laid down the law

incorrectly, it is also clear that the amended Section 36, being

clarificatory in nature, merely restates the position that the

unamended Section 36 does not stand in the way of the law as to

grant of stay of a money decree under the provisions of the CPC.

38
Removal of the basis of the BCCI judgment by the 2019

Amendment Act

33. It now falls to be determined as to whether the 2019

SectionAmendment Act removes the basis of the BCCI judgment (supra) of

this Court.

34. For this purpose, it is necessary to set out the relevant

provisions of the 2019 SectionAmendment Act. Section 87 as introduced by

Section 13 of the 2019 SectionAmendment Act reads as follows:

“87. Unless the parties otherwise agree, the
amendments made to this Act by the
Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act,
2015 shall–

(a) not apply to-

(i) arbitral proceedings commenced before
the commencement of the Arbitration
and Conciliation (Amendment) Act,
2015;

(ii) court proceedings arising out of or in
relation to such arbitral proceedings
irrespective of whether such court
proceedings are commenced prior to or
after the commencement of the
Arbitration and Conciliation
(Amendment) Act, 2015;

(b) apply only to arbitral proceedings
commenced on or after the

39
commencement of the Arbitration and

Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 and to
court proceedings arising out of or in
relation to such arbitral proceedings.”

By Section 15 of the same SectionAmendment Act, Section 26 of the

2015 SectionAmendment Act was omitted as follows:

“15. Section 26 of the Arbitration and
Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 shall be
omitted and shall be deemed to have been
omitted with effect from the 23rd October,
2015.”

Section 26 of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act reads as follows:

“26. Nothing contained in this Act shall apply
to the arbitral proceedings commenced, in
accordance with the provisions of Section 21
of the principal Act, before the commencement
of this Act unless the parties otherwise agree
but this Act shall apply in relation to arbitral
proceedings commenced on or after the date
of commencement of this Act.”

35. This Court’s judgment in BCCI (supra) had occasion to deal

with the important question as to the true interpretation of Section 26

of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act. This Court, in paragraph 28, referred to

the transitory provision contained in Section 85-A as proposed in the

246th Law Commission Report, and thereafter in paragraphs 29 to

31, referred to the debates on the floor of the House. In paragraph

40
32, this Court referred to the differences between Section 26 and

Section 85-A as proposed, and then held:

“33. What can be seen from the above is that
Section 26 has, while retaining the bifurcation
of proceedings into arbitration and court
proceedings, departed somewhat from Section
85-A as proposed by the Law Commission.”

36. Section 26 was then stated to have bifurcated proceedings

with a great degree of clarity into two sets of proceedings – arbitral

proceedings themselves, and court proceedings in relation thereto.

Paragraph 39 of the judgment refers to this and states as follows:

“39. Section 26, therefore, bifurcates
proceedings, as has been stated above, with a
great degree of clarity, into two sets of
proceedings — arbitral proceedings
themselves, and court proceedings in relation
thereto. The reason why the first part of
Section 26 is couched in negative form is only
to state that the SectionAmendment Act will apply
even to arbitral proceedings commenced
before the amendment if parties otherwise
agree. If the first part of Section 26 were
couched in positive language (like the second
part), it would have been necessary to add a
proviso stating that the SectionAmendment Act would
apply even to arbitral proceedings
commenced before the amendment if the
parties agree. In either case, the intention of
the legislature remains the same, the negative
form conveying exactly what could have been

41
stated positively, with the necessary proviso.

Obviously, “arbitral proceedings” having been
subsumed in the first part cannot re-appear in
the second part, and the expression “in
relation to arbitral proceedings” would,
therefore, apply only to court proceedings
which relate to the arbitral proceedings. The
scheme of Section 26 is thus clear: that the
SectionAmendment Act is prospective in nature, and
will apply to those arbitral proceedings that are
commenced, as understood by Section 21 of
the principal Act, on or after the SectionAmendment
Act, and to court proceedings which have
commenced on or after the SectionAmendment Act
came into force.”
(emphasis supplied)

37. The Court was alive to the Srikrishna Committee Report’s

recommendation of a proposed Section 87, as is clear from footnote

23 appended to paragraph 44 of the judgment. The Court then made

a reference to the Statement of Objects and Reasons for the 2015

SectionAmendment Act and stated as follows:

“77. However, it is important to remember that
the SectionAmendment Act was enacted for the
following reasons, as the Statement of Objects
and Reasons for the SectionAmendment Act states:

“2. SectionThe Act was enacted to provide for
speedy disposal of cases relating to
arbitration with least court intervention. With
the passage of time, some difficulties in the
applicability of the Act have been

42
noticed. Interpretation of the provisions of the
Act by courts in some cases have resulted in
delay of disposal of arbitration proceedings
and increase in interference of courts in
arbitration matters, which tend to defeat the
object of the Act. With a view to overcome
the difficulties, the matter was referred to the
Law Commission of India, which examined
the issue in detail and submitted its 176th
Report. On the basis of the said Report, the
Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment)
Bill, 2003 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha
on 22-12-2003. The said Bill was referred to
the Department-related Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Personnel, Public
Grievances, Law and Justice for examination
and report. The said Committee, submitted
its Report to Parliament on 4-8-2005,
wherein the Committee recommended that
since many provisions of the said Bill were
contentious, the Bill may be withdrawn and a
fresh legislation may be brought after
considering its recommendations.

Accordingly, the said Bill was withdrawn from
the Rajya Sabha.

3. On a reference made again in pursuance
of the above, the Law Commission examined
and submitted its 246th Report on
“Amendments to the Arbitration and
SectionConciliation Act, 1996” in August 2014 and
recommended various amendments in the
Act. The proposed amendments to the Act
would facilitate and encourage Alternative
Dispute Mechanism, especially arbitration,
for settlement of disputes in a more user-

friendly, cost-effective and expeditious

43
disposal of cases since India is committed to
improve its legal framework to obviate in
disposal of cases.

4. As India has been ranked at 178 out of
189 nations in the world in contract
enforcement, it is high time that urgent steps
are taken to facilitate quick enforcement of
contracts, easy recovery of monetary claims
and award of just compensation for damages
suffered and reduce the pendency of cases
in courts and hasten the process of dispute
resolution through arbitration, so as to
encourage investment and economic activity.

5. As Parliament was not in session and
immediate steps were required to be taken to
make necessary amendments to the
Arbitration and SectionConciliation Act, 1996 to
attract foreign investment by projecting India
as an investor friendly country having a
sound legal framework, the President was
pleased to promulgate the Arbitration and
Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015.

6. It is proposed to introduce the Arbitration
and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to
replace the Arbitration and Conciliation
(Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, which inter
alia, provides for the following, namely—

(i) to amend the definition of “Court” to
provide that in the case of international
commercial arbitrations, the Court should
be the High Court;

(ii) to ensure that an Indian court can
exercise jurisdiction to grant interim

44
measures, etc., even where the seat of the
arbitration is outside India;

(iii) an application for appointment of an
arbitrator shall be disposed of by the High
Court or Supreme Court, as the case may
be, as expeditiously as possible and an
endeavour should be made to dispose of
the matter within a period of sixty days;

(iv) to provide that while considering any
application for appointment of arbitrator,
the High Court or the Supreme Court shall
examine the existence of a prima facie
arbitration agreement and not other
issues;

(v) to provide that the Arbitral Tribunal
shall make its award within a period of
twelve months from the date it enters upon
the reference and that the parties may,
however, extend such period up to six
months, beyond which period any
extension can only be granted by the
Court, on sufficient cause;

(vi) to provide for a model fee schedule on
the basis of which High Courts may frame
rules for the purpose of determination of
fees of Arbitral Tribunal, where a High
Court appoints arbitrator in terms of
Section 11 of the Act;

(vii) to provide that the parties to dispute
may at any stage agree in writing that their
dispute be resolved through fast-track
procedure and the award in such cases

45
shall be made within a period of six
months;

(viii) to provide for neutrality of arbitrators,
when a person is approached in
connection with possible appointment as
an arbitrator;

(ix) to provide that application to challenge
the award is to be disposed of by the Court
within one year.

7. The amendments proposed in the Bill will
ensure that arbitration process becomes
more user-friendly, cost-effective and lead to
expeditious disposal of cases.”

78. The Government will be well-advised in
keeping the aforesaid Statement of Objects
and Reasons in the forefront, if it proposes to
enact Section 87 on the lines indicated in the
Government’s Press Release dated 7-3-2018.
The immediate effect of the proposed Section
87 would be to put all the important
amendments made by the SectionAmendment Act on
a back-burner, such as the important
amendments made to Sections 28 and Section34 in
particular, which, as has been stated by the
Statement of Objects and Reasons,

“… have resulted in delay of disposal of
arbitration proceedings and increase in
interference of courts in arbitration matters,
which tend to defeat the object of the Act”,

and will now not be applicable to Section 34
petitions filed after 23-10-2015, but will be
applicable to Section 34 petitions filed in cases

46
where arbitration proceedings have
themselves commenced only after 23-10-

2015. This would mean that in all matters
which are in the pipeline, despite the fact that
Section 34 proceedings have been initiated
only after 23-10-2015, yet, the old law would
continue to apply resulting in delay of disposal
of arbitration proceedings by increased
interference of courts, which ultimately defeats
the object of the 1996 Act. [These
amendments have the effect, as stated
in SectionHRD Corpn. v. GAIL (India) Ltd., (2018) 12
SCC 471 of limiting the grounds of challenge
to awards as follows: (SCC p. 493, para

18)“18. In fact, the same Law Commission
Report has amended Sections 28 and Section34 so
as to narrow grounds of challenge available
under the Act. The judgment in ONGC
Ltd. v. Saw Pipes Ltd., (2003) 5 SCC 705 has
been expressly done away with. So has the
judgment in ONGC Ltd. v. Western Geco
International Ltd., (2014) 9 SCC 263. Both
Sections 34 and Section48 have been brought back to
the position of law contained in SectionRenusagar
Power Plant Co. Ltd. v. General Electric
Company, 1994 Supp (1) SCC 644, where
“public policy” will now include only two of the
three things set out therein viz. “fundamental
policy of Indian law” and “justice or morality”.
The ground relating to “the interest of India” no
longer obtains. “Fundamental policy of Indian
law” is now to be understood as laid down
in Renusagar, 1994 Supp (1) SCC 644.

“Justice or morality” has been tightened and is
now to be understood as meaning only basic
notions of justice and morality i.e. such notions
as would shock the conscience of the Court as

47
understood in SectionAssociate Builders v. DDA,
(2015) 3 SCC 49 : (2015) 2 SCC (Civ) 204.

Section 28(3) has also been amended to bring
it in line with the judgment of this Court
in Associate Builders, (2015) 3 SCC 49 :

(2015) 2 SCC (Civ) 204, making it clear that
the construction of the terms of the contract is
primarily for the arbitrator to decide unless it is
found that such a construction is not a
possible one.”] It would be important to
remember that the 246th Law Commission
Report has itself bifurcated proceedings into
two parts, so that the SectionAmendment Act can
apply to court proceedings commenced on or
after 23-10-2015. It is this basic scheme which
is adhered to by Section 26 of the Amendment
Act, which ought not to be displaced as the
very object of the enactment of the
SectionAmendment Act would otherwise be
defeated.”
(emphasis supplied)

In paragraph 83, the Court then concluded:

“83. In view of the above, the present batch of
appeals is dismissed. A copy of the judgment
is to be sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice
and the learned Attorney General for India in
view of what is stated in paras 77 and 78
supra.”

38. After construing Section 26 in the manner stated in the

judgment, this Court cautioned the Government by stating that the

immediate effect of enacting the proposed Section 87 would be

48
directly contrary to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the

2015 SectionAmendment Act, which made it clear that the law prior to the

2015 SectionAmendment Act resulted in delay of disposal of arbitral

proceedings, and an increase in interference by courts in arbitration

matters, which tends to defeat a primary object of the SectionArbitration Act,

1996 itself. It was therefore stated that all the amendments made by

the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, and important amendments in particular

that were made to Sections 28 and Section34, would now be put on a

backburner, which would be contrary not only to what the 246th Law

Commission had in mind, but also directly contrary to the salutary

provisions that were made to correct defects that were found in the

working of the SectionArbitration Act, 1996.

39. At this point it is important to refer to the relevant paragraphs

of the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the 2019 SectionAmendment

Act which introduced Section 87. In paragraphs 2 to 6 of the

Statement of Objects and Reasons, the Srikrishna Committee

Report alone is referred to, and paragraph 6(vi) in particular states

as follows:

49
“6. The salient features of the Arbitration and
Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, inter alia,
are as follows:-

xxx xxx xxx

(vi) to clarify that Section 26 of the Arbitration
and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 is
applicable only to the arbitral proceedings
which commenced on or after 23rd October,
2015 and to such court proceedings which
emanate from such arbitral proceedings.”

40. Interestingly, no such clarification was made by the 2019

SectionAmendment Act. Instead, Section 26 was omitted with effect from

23.10.2015 and Section 87 introduced.

41. Dr. Singhvi has argued, based on a number of judgments of

this Court, that the question of removing the basis of a judgment

cannot arise unless and until the judgment is present to the mind of

the legislature. He stated that in all the major cases in which a

judgment of a court is nullified by removing its basis, the judgment in

question has been expressly referred to in the concerned Statement

of Objects and Reasons. We are afraid that we cannot agree with

this line of argument. What is important is to see whether, in

substance, the basis of a particular judgment is in fact removed,

50
whether or not that judgment is referred to in the Statement of

Objects and Reasons of the amending act which seeks to remove its

basis.

42. SectionIn Shri Prithvi Cotton Mills Ltd. and Anr. v. Broad

Borough Municipality and Ors. (1969) 2 SCC 283, this Court held:

“4….Granted legislative competence, it is not
sufficient to declare merely that the decision of
the Court shall not bind for that is tantamount
to reversing the decision in exercise of judicial
power which the Legislature does not possess
or exercise. A court’s decision must always
bind unless the conditions on which it is based
are so fundamentally altered that the decision
could not have been given in the altered
circumstances.”

43. SectionIn State of Tamil Nadu v. Arooran Sugars Ltd. (1997) 1

SCC 326, this Court after setting out what was held in Shri Prithvi

Cotton Mills (supra) stated:

“16…The same view was reiterated in the
cases of SectionWest Ramnad Electric Distribution
Co. Ltd. v. State of Madras [(1963) 2 SCR 747
: AIR 1962 SC 1753] ; SectionUdai Ram
Sharma v. Union of India [(1968) 3 SCR 41 :
AIR 1968 SC 1138] ; SectionTirath Ram Rajindra
Nath v. State of U.P. [(1973) 3 SCC 585 :

1973 SCC (Tax) 300] ; SectionKrishna Chandra
Gangopadhyaya v. Union of India [(1975) 2
SCC 302] ; SectionHindustan Gum Chemicals

51
Ltd. v. State of Haryana [(1985) 4 SCC 124]
; SectionUtkal Contractors and Joinery (P)
Ltd. v. State of Orissa [1987 Supp SCC 751]
; SectionD. Cawasji Co v. State of Mysore [1984
Supp SCC 490 : 1985 SCC (Tax) 63]
and SectionBhubaneshwar Singh v. Union of
India [(1994) 6 SCC 77] . It is open to the
legislature to remove the defect pointed out by
the court or to amend the definition or any
other provision of the Act in question
retrospectively. In this process it cannot be
said that there has been an encroachment by
the legislature over the power of the judiciary.
A court’s directive must always bind unless the
conditions on which it is based are so
fundamentally altered that under altered
circumstances such decisions could not have
been given. This will include removal of the
defect in a statute pointed out in the judgment
in question, as well as alteration or substitution
of provisions of the enactment on which such
judgment is based, with retrospective effect.”.

44. Likewise, in SectionGoa Foundation v. State of Goa (2016) 6 SCC

602, this Court held:

“24…The power to invalidate a legislative or
executive act lies with the Court. A judicial
pronouncement, either declaratory or
conferring rights on the citizens cannot be set
at naught by a subsequent legislative act for
that would amount to an encroachment on the
judicial powers. However, the legislature
would be competent to pass an amending or a
validating act, if deemed fit, with retrospective
effect removing the basis of the decision of the

52
Court. Even in such a situation the courts may
not approve a retrospective deprivation of
accrued rights arising from a judgment by
means of a subsequent legislation (SectionMadan
Mohan Pathak v. Union of India [Madan
Mohan Pathak v. Union of India, (1978) 2 SCC
50 : 1978 SCC (LS) 103] ). However, where
the Court’s judgment is purely declaratory, the
courts will lean in support of the legislative
power to remove the basis of a court judgment
even retrospectively, paving the way for a
restoration of the status quo ante. Though the
consequence may appear to be an exercise to
overcome the judicial pronouncement it is so
only at first blush; a closer scrutiny would
confer legitimacy on such an exercise as the
same is a normal adjunct of the legislative
power. The whole exercise is one of viewing
the different spheres of jurisdiction exercised
by the two bodies i.e. the judiciary and the
legislature. The balancing act, delicate as it is,
to the constitutional scheme is guided by the
well-defined values which have found succinct
manifestation in the views of this Court
in SectionBakhtawar Trust [Bakhtawar Trust v. M.D.
Narayan, (2003) 5 SCC 298].”

45. Given the aforesaid judgments, Section 15 of the 2019

SectionAmendment Act removes the basis of BCCI (supra) by omitting from

the very start Section 26 of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act. Since this is

the provision that has been construed in the BCCI judgment (supra),

there can be no doubt whatsoever that one fundamental prop of the

53
said judgment has been removed by retrospectively omitting Section

26 altogether from the very day when it came into force. This

argument must therefore be rejected.

46. Equally, Shri Neeraj Kishan Kaul’s argument that Section 87

is nothing but a re-hash of Section 26, and therefore in substance

there is a direct encroachment on a judgment of this Court, must

also be rejected. When contrasted with Section 26, Section 87 is in

two parts: Section 87(a) negatively stating that the 2015 SectionAmendment

Act shall not apply to Court proceedings arising out of arbitral

proceedings irrespective of whether such court proceedings are

commenced before or after the commencement of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act; and positively applying only to court proceedings in

case they arise out of arbitral proceedings that are commenced on

or after the commencement of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act. It can thus

be seen that the scheme of Section 87 is different from that of

Section 26, and is explicit in stating that court proceedings are

merely parasitical on arbitral proceedings. It is therefore clear that

only arbitral proceedings have to be looked at to see whether the

54
2015 SectionAmendment Act kicks in. It is therefore not possible to accept

Shri Kaul’s argument that in the present case there is a direct

assault on a judgment of this Court without first removing its basis.

Constitutional Challenge to the 2019 Amendment Act

47. This now sets the stage for the examination of the

constitutional validity of the introduction of Section 87 into the

SectionArbitration Act, 1996, and deletion of Section 26 of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act by the 2019 SectionAmendment Act against Articles 14,

19(1)(g), 21 and SectionArticle 300-A of the Constitution of India. The

Srikrishna Committee Report recommended the introduction of

Section 87 owing to the fact that there were conflicting High Court

judgments on the reach of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act at the time

when the Committee deliberated on this subject. This was stated as

follows in the Srikrishna Committee Report:

“However, Sectionsection 26 has remained silent on
the applicability of the 2015 amendment Act to
court proceedings, both pending and newly
initiated in case of arbitrations commenced
prior to 23 October 2015. Different High
Courts in India have taken divergent views on
the applicability of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act to

55
such court proceedings. Broadly, there are
three sets of views as summarised below:

(a) The 2015 SectionAmendment Act is not applicable
to court proceedings (fresh and pending)
where the arbitral proceedings to which
they relate commenced before 23 October
2015.

(b) The first part of Sectionsection 26 is narrower than
the second and only excludes arbitral
proceedings commenced prior to 23
October 2015 from the application of the
2015 SectionAmendment Act. The 2015
SectionAmendment Act would, however, apply to
fresh or pending court proceedings in
relation to arbitral proceedings commenced
prior to 23 October 2015.

(c) The wording “arbitral proceedings” in
Sectionsection 26 cannot be construed to include
related court proceedings. Accordingly, the
2015 SectionAmendment Act applied to all
arbitrations commenced on or after 23
October 2015. As far as court proceedings
are concerned, the 2015 SectionAmendment Act
would apply to all court proceedings from
23October 2015, including fresh or pending
court proceedings in relation to arbitration
commenced before, on or after 23 October
2015.

Thus, it is evident that there is considerable
confusion regarding the applicability of the
2015 SectionAmendment Act to related court
proceedings in arbitration commenced before
23 October 2015.The Committee is of the view

56
that a suitable legislative amendment is
required to address this issue.

The committee feels that permitting the 2015
SectionAmendment Act to apply to pending court
proceedings related to arbitrations
commenced prior to 23 October 2015 would
result in uncertainty and prejudice to parties,
as they may have to be heard again. It may
also not be advisable to make the 2015
SectionAmendment Act applicable to fresh court
proceedings in relation to such arbitrations, as
it may result in an inconsistent position.
Therefore, it is felt that it may be desirable to
limit the applicability of the 2015 SectionAmendment
Act to arbitrations commenced on or after 23
October 2015 and related court proceedings.”
(emphasis supplied)

48. The Srikrishna Committee Report is dated 30.07.2017, which

is long before this Court’s judgment in the BCCI case (supra).

Whatever uncertainty there may have been because of the

interpretation by different High Courts has disappeared as a result of

the BCCI judgment (supra), the law on Section 26 of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act being laid down with great clarity. To thereafter

delete this salutary provision and introduce Section 87 in its place,

would be wholly without justification and contrary to the object

sought to be achieved by the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, which was

57
enacted pursuant to a detailed Law Commission report which found

various infirmities in the working of the original 1996 statute. Also, it

is not understood as to how “uncertainty and prejudice would be

caused, as they may have to be heard again”, resulting in an

‘inconsistent position’. The amended law would be applied to

pending court proceedings, which would then have to be disposed of

in accordance therewith, resulting in the benefits of the 2015

SectionAmendment Act now being applied. To refer to the Srikrishna

Committee Report (without at all referring to this Court’s judgment)

even after the judgment has pointed out the pitfalls of following such

provision, would render Section 87 and the deletion of Section 26 of

the 2015 SectionAmendment Act manifestly arbitrary, having been enacted

unreasonably, without adequate determining principle, and contrary

to the public interest sought to be subserved by the SectionArbitration Act,

1996 and the 2015 SectionAmendment Act. This is for the reason that a key

finding of the BCCI judgment (supra) is that the introduction of

Section 87 would result in a delay of disposal of arbitration

proceedings, and an increase in the interference of courts in

58
arbitration matters, which defeats the very object of the SectionArbitration

Act, 1996, which was strengthened by the 2015 SectionAmendment Act.

49. Further, this Court has repeatedly held that an application

under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 is a summary

proceeding not in the nature of a regular suit – see SectionCanara Nidhi

Ltd. v. M. Shashikala 2019 SCC Online SC 1244 at paragraph 20.

As a result, a court reviewing an arbitral award under Section 34

does not sit in appeal over the award, and if the view taken by the

arbitrator is possible, no interference is called for – see SectionAssociated

Construction v. Pawanhans Helicopters Ltd. (2008) 16 SCC 128

at paragraph 17.

50. Also, as has been held in the recent decision SectionSsangyong

Engineering Construction Co. Ltd. v. NHAI 2019 SCC Online

677, after the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, this Court cannot interfere with

an arbitral award on merits (see paragraph 28 and 76 therein). The

anomaly, therefore, of Order XLI Rule 5 of the CPC applying in the

case of full-blown appeals, and not being applicable by reason of

Section 36 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 when it comes to review of

59
arbitral awards, (where an appeal is in the nature of a rehearing of

the original proceeding, where the chance of succeeding is far

greater than in a restricted review of arbitral awards under Section

34), is itself a circumstance which militates against the enactment of

Section 87, placing the amendments made in the 2015 SectionAmendment

Act, in particular Section 36, on a backburner. For this reason also,

Section 87 must be struck down as manifestly arbitrary under Article

14. The petitioners are also correct in stating that when the mischief

of the misconstruction of Section 36 was corrected after a period of

more than 19 years by legislative intervention in 2015, to now work

in the reverse direction and bring back the aforesaid mischief itself

results in manifest arbitrariness. The retrospective resurrection of an

automatic-stay not only turns the clock backwards contrary to the

object of the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 and the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, but

also results in payments already made under the amended Section

36 to award-holders in a situation of no-stay or conditional-stay now

being reversed. In fact, refund applications have been filed in some

of the cases before us, praying that monies that have been released

60
for payment as a result of conditional stay orders be returned to the

judgment-debtor.

51. Also, it is important to notice that the Srikrishna Committee

Report did not refer to the provisions of the Insolvency Code. After

the advent of the Insolvency Code on 01.12.2016, the consequence

of applying Section 87 is that due to the automatic-stay doctrine laid

down by judgments of this Court – which have only been reversed

today by the present judgment – the award-holder may become

insolvent by defaulting on its payment to its suppliers, when such

payments would be forthcoming from arbitral awards in cases where

there is no stay, or even in cases where conditional stays are

granted. Also, an arbitral award-holder is deprived of the fruits of its

award – which is usually obtained after several years of litigating – as

a result of the automatic-stay, whereas it would be faced with

immediate payment to its operational creditors, which payments may

not be forthcoming due to monies not being released on account of

automatic-stays of arbitral awards, exposing such award-holders to

the rigors of the Insolvency Code. For all these reasons, the deletion

61
of Section 26 of the 2015 SectionAmendment Act, together with the

insertion of Section 87 into the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 by the 2019

SectionAmendment Act, is struck down as being manifestly arbitrary under

SectionArticle 14 of the Constitution of India.

52. However, the learned Attorney General cited a number of

judgments which state that the court should not ordinarily interfere

with the fixation of cut-off dates, unless such fixation appears to be

arbitrary or discriminatory (see for e.g., SectionUOI v. Parameswaran

Match Works (1975) 1 SCC 305 at paragraph 102 and SectionGovt. of

A.P. v. N. Subbarayudu (2008) 14 SCC 702 at paragraphs 5 to 93).

2
“10….The choice of a date as a basis for classification cannot be
always be dubbed as arbitrary even if no particular reason is
forthcoming for the choice unless it is shown to be capricious or
whimsical in the circumstances. Where it is seen that a line or point
there must be, and there is no mathematical or logical way of fixing it
precisely, the decision of the legislature or its delegate must be
accepted unless we can say that it is very wide of the reasonable mark.”
3
“5….This Court is also of the view that fixing cut-off dates is within the
domain of the executive authority and the court should not normally
interfere with the fixation of a cut-off date by the executive authority
unless such Court order appears to be on the face of it blatantly
discriminatory and arbitrary.”

62

53. In the present case, the challenge is not to the fixing of

23.10.2015 as a cut-off date, as the aforesaid date is the date on

which the 2015 SectionAmendment Act came into force. For this reason,

the aforesaid judgments have no application. Instead, what has

been found to be manifestly arbitrary is the non-bifurcation of court

proceedings and arbitration proceedings with reference to the

aforesaid date, resulting in improvements in the working of the

SectionArbitration Act, 1996 being put on a backburner. This argument of

the learned Attorney General for India also therefore must be

rejected.

54. The result is that the BCCI judgment (supra) will therefore

continue to apply so as to make applicable the salutary amendments

made by the 2015 SectionAmendment Act to all court proceedings initiated

after 23.10.2015.

55. In this view of the matter, it is unnecessary to examine the

constitutional challenge to the 2019 SectionAmendment Act based on

Articles 19(1)(g), 21 and 300-A of the Constitution of India.

63
Constitutional Challenge to the Insolvency Code

56. It now falls on us to decide the second part of the challenges

made in the present Writ Petitions, i.e. the challenge to the

constitutionality of the Insolvency Code. As mentioned above, Dr.

Singhvi has argued that the provisions of the Insolvency Code would

operate arbitrarily on his client inasmuch as, on the one hand, an

automatic-stay of arbitral awards in his favour would be granted

under the SectionArbitration Act, 1996 as a result of which those monies

cannot be used to pay-off the debts of his client’s creditors. On the

other hand, any debt of over INR one lakh owed to a financial or

operational creditor which remains unpaid, would attract the

provisions of the Insolvency Code against the Petitioner No.1 –

making these provisions arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of

Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. As a result, he

has suggested that in order for his client, in turn, to recover monies

from Government Companies and NHAI, the definition of ‘corporate

person’ contained in Section 3(7) of the Insolvency Code should

either be read without the words “with limited liability” contained in

64
the third part of the definition, or have Section 3(23)(g) of the

Insolvency Code, which is the definition of ‘person’, read into the

aforesaid provision. In order to appreciate this contention it is

necessary to set out these definitions:

“Definitions

3. In this Code, unless the context otherwise
requires,-

xxx xxx xxx

(7) “corporate person” means a company as
defined in clause (20) of Sectionsection 2 of the
Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013), a limited
liability partnership, as defined in clause (n) of
sub-section (1) of Sectionsection 2 of the Limited
Liability Partnership Act, 2008 (6 of 2009), or
any other person incorporated with limited
liability under any law for the time being in
force but shall not include any financial service
provider;

(8) “corporate debtor” means a corporate
person who owes a debt to any person;

(23) “person” includes-

(a) an individual;

(b) a Hindu Undivided Family;

(c) a company;

(d) a trust;

(e) a partnership;

(f) a limited liability partnership;

(g) any other entity established under a
statute;

and includes a person resident outside India.”

65

57. As correctly argued by the learned Solicitor General, Shri

Tushar Mehta, the first part of ‘corporate person’, as defined in

Section 3(7) of the Insolvency Code, means a company as defined

in Clause 20 of Section 2 of the Companies Act 2013. Sections

2(20) and Section2(45) of the Companies Act, 2013, which define

‘company’ and ‘Government company’ respectively, are set out

hereinbelow:

“2(20). “company” means a company
incorporated under this Act or under any
previous company law;”

“2(45). “Government company” means any
company in which not less than fifty-one per
cent of the paid-up share capital is held by the
Central Government, or by any State
Government or Governments, or partly by the
Central Government and partly by one or more
State Governments, and includes a company
which is a subsidiary company of such a
Government company.”

58. From a reading of the aforesaid definition, Shri Tushar Mehta

is clearly right in stating that the three entities who owe monies

under arbitral awards to the Petitioner No.1, being Government

companies, would be subsumed within the first part of the definition.

However, so far as NHAI is concerned, Dr. Singhvi’s argument of

66
either deleting certain words in Section 3(7) of the Insolvency Code,

or adding certain words in Section 3(23)(g) of the Insolvency Code

into Section 3(7) cannot be accepted.

59. It is clear from a reading of the Statement of Objects and

Reasons of the NHAI Act, that the development and maintenance of

national highways is a government function that falls within Entry 23

of List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. Further,

under Section 5 of the National Highways Act, 1956, the Central

Government may direct that any function in relation to the

development or maintenance of national highways shall also be

exercisable by any officer or authority subordinate to the Central

Government. Under this provision, the function of execution of

activities relatable to national highways was earlier delegated to the

State Governments under an “agency system”. Though the system

worked through the State Public Works Departments for a period of

40 years, as difficulties were experienced, the Centre itself decided

to take over development and maintenance of the national highways

system through the creation of a national highways authority.

67

60. The following provisions of the NHAI Act are relevant and are

set out hereinbelow:

“3. Constitution of the Authority.—

(1) With effect from such date as the Central
Government may, by notification in the Official
Gazette, appoint in this behalf, there shall be
constituted for the purposes of this Act an
Authority to be called the National Highways
Authority of India.

(2) The Authority shall be a body corporate by
the name aforesaid having perpetual
succession and a common seal, with power,
subject to the provisions of this Act, to acquire,
hold and dispose of property, both movable
and immovable, and to contract and shall by
the said name sue and be sued.

[(3) The Authority shall consist of—

(a) a Chairman;

(b) not more than six full-time members; and

(c) not more than six part-time members, to be
appointed by the Central Government by
notification in the Official Gazette:

Provided that the Central Government shall,
while appointing the part-time members,
ensure that at least two of them are non-

Government professionals having knowledge
or experience in financial management,
transportation planning or any other relevant
discipline.]

68
xxx xxx xxx

12. Transfer of assets and liabilities of the
Central Government to the Authority—

(1) On and from the date of publication of the
notification under Sectionsection 11.—

(a) all debts, obligations and liabilities
incurred, all contracts entered into and all
matters and things engaged to be done by,
with, or for, the Central Government,
immediately before such date for or in
connection with the purposes of any national
highway or any stretch thereof vested in, or
entrusted to, the Authority under that section,
shall be deemed to have been incurred,
entered into and engaged to be done by, with,
or for, the Authority;

(b) all non-recurring expenditure incurred by or
for the Central Government for or in
connection with the purposes of any national
highway or any stretch thereof, so vested in,
or entrusted to, the Authority, up to such date
and declared to be capital expenditure by the
Central Government shall, subject to such
terms and conditions as may be prescribed,
be treated as capital provided by the Central
Government to the Authority;

(c) all sums of money due to the Central
Government in relation to any national
highway or any stretch thereof, so vested in,
or entrusted to, the Authority immediately
before such date shall be deemed to be due to
the Authority;

69

(d) all suits and other legal proceedings
instituted or which could have been instituted
by or against the Central Government
immediately before such date for any matter in
relation to such national highway or any
stretch thereof may be continued or instituted
by or against the Authority.

(2) If any dispute arises as to which of the
assets, rights or liabilities of the Central
Government have been transferred to the
Authority, such dispute shall be decided by the
Central Government.

xxx xxx xxx

14. Contracts by the Authority.—

Subject to the provisions of Sectionsection 15, the
Authority shall be competent to enter into and
perform any contract necessary for the
discharge of its functions under this Act.

15. Mode of executing contracts on behalf
of the Authority.—

(1) Every contract shall, on behalf of the
Authority, be made by the Chairman or such
other member or such officer of the Authority
as may be generally or specially empowered
in this behalf by the Authority and such
contracts or classes of contracts as may be
specified in the regulations shall be sealed
with the common seal of the Authority:

70
Provided that no contract exceeding such
value or amount as the Central Government
may prescribe in this behalf shall be made
unless it has been previously approved by that
Government:

Provided further that no contract for the
acquisition or sale of immovable property or
for the lease of any such property for a term
exceeding thirty years and no other contract
exceeding such value or amount as the
Central Government may prescribe in this
behalf shall be made unless it has been
previously approved by that Government.

(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (1),
the form and manner in which any contract
shall be made under this Act shall be such as
may be provided by regulations.

(3) No contract which is not in accordance with
the provisions of this Act and the regulations
shall be binding on the Authority.

16. Functions of the Authority.—

(1) Subject to the rules made by the Central
Government in this behalf, it shall be the
function of the Authority to develop, maintain
and manage the national highways and any
other highways vested in, or entrusted to, it by
the Government.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the
provisions contained in sub-section (1), the
Authority may, for the discharge of its
functions—

71

(a) survey, develop, maintain and manage
highways vested in, or entrusted to, it;

(b) construct offices or workshops and
establish and maintain hotels, motels,
restaurants and rest-rooms at or near the
highways vested in, or entrusted to, it;

(c) construct residential buildings and
townships for its employees;

(d) regulate and control the plying of vehicles
on the highways vested in, or entrusted to, it
for the proper management thereof;

(e) develop and provide consultancy and
construction services in India and abroad and
carry on research activities in relation to the
development, maintenance and management
of highways or any facilities thereat;

(f) provide such facilities and amenities for the
users of the highways vested in, or entrusted
to, it as are, in the opinion of the Authority,
necessary for the smooth flow of traffic on
such highways;

(g) form one or more companies under the
SectionCompanies Act, 1956 to further the efficient
discharge of the functions imposed on it by
this Act;

[(h) engage, or entrust any of its functions to,
any person on such terms and conditions as
may be prescribed;]

(i) advise the Central Government on matters
relating to highways;

(j) assist, on such terms and conditions as
may be mutually agreed upon, any State
Government in the formulation and
implementation of schemes for highway
development;

72

(k) collect fees on behalf of the Central
Government for services or benefits rendered
under section 7 of the National Highways Act,
1956, as amended from time to time, and such
other fees on behalf of the State Governments
on such terms and conditions as may be
specified by such State Governments; and

(l) take all such steps as may be necessary or
convenient for, or may be incidental to, the
exercise of any power or the discharge of any
function conferred or imposed on it by this Act.

(3) Nothing contained in this section shall be
construed as—

(a) authorising the disregard by the Authority
of any law for the time being in force; or

(b) authorising any person to institute any
proceeding in respect of a duty or liability to
which the Authority or its officers or other
employees would not otherwise be subject
under this Act.

17. Additional capital and grants to the
Authority by the Central Government.–

The Central Government may, after due
appropriation made by Parliament, by law in
this behalf,–

(a) provide any capital that may be required by
the Authority for the discharge of its functions
under this Act or for any purpose connected
therewith on such terms and conditions as that
Government may determine;

73

(b) pay to the Authority, on such terms and
conditions as the Central Government may
determine, by way of loans or grants such
sums of money as that Government may
consider necessary for the efficient discharge
by the Authority of its functions under this Act.

18. Funds of the Authority.– (1) There shall
be constituted a Fund to be called the National
Highways Authority of India Fund and there
shall be credited thereto—

(a) any grant or aid received by the Authority;

(b) any loan taken by the Authority or any
borrowings made by it;

(c) any other sums received by the Authority.

(2) The Fund shall be utilised for meeting—

(a) expenses of the Authority in the discharge
of its functions having regard to the purposes
for which such grants, loans or borrowings are
received and for matters connected therewith
or incidental thereto;

(b) salary, allowances, other remuneration and
facilities provided to the members, officers and
other employees of the Authority;

(c) expenses on objects and for purposes
authorised by this Act.

19. Budget.–The Authority shall prepare, in
such form and at such time in each financial
year as may be prescribed, its budget for the
next financial year, showing the estimated
receipts and expenditure of the Authority and
forward the same to the Central Government.

74

20. Investment of funds.—The Authority
may invest its funds (including any reserve
fund) in the securities of the Central
Government or in such other manner as may
be prescribed.

21. Borrowing powers of the Authority.—

(1) The Authority may, with the consent of the
Central Government or in accordance with the
terms of any general or special authority given
to it by the Central Government, borrow
money from any source by the issue of bonds,
debentures or such other instruments as it
may deem fit for discharging all or any of its
functions under this Act.

(2) Subject to such limits as the Central
Government may, from time to time, lay down,
the Authority may borrow temporarily by way
of overdraft or otherwise, such amounts as it
may require for discharging its functions under
this Act.

(3) The Central Government may guarantee in
such manner as it thinks fit the repayment of
the principal and the payment of interest
thereon with respect to the borrowings made
by the Authority under sub-section (1).

22. Annual report.—The Authority shall
prepare, in such form and at such time in each
financial year as may be prescribed, its annual
report, giving a full account of its activities
during the previous financial year, and submit
a copy thereof to the Central Government.

75

23. Accounts and audit.—The accounts of
the Authority shall be maintained and audited
in such manner as may, in consultation with
the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India,
be prescribed and the Authority shall furnish,
to the Central Government before such date
as may be prescribed, its audited copy of
accounts together with the auditors report
thereon.

24. Annual report and auditor’s report to
be laid before Parliament.— The Central
Government shall cause the annual report and
auditor’s report to be laid, as soon as may be
after they are received, before each House of
Parliament.

xxx xxx xxx

33. Power of the Central Government to
issue directions.-

(1) Without prejudice to the other provisions of
this Act, the Authority shall, in the discharge of
its functions and duties under this Act, be
bound by such directions on questions of
policy as the Central Government may give in
writing from time to time.

(2) The decision of the Central Government
whether a question is one of policy or not shall
be final.”

61. Under Section 3 of the aforementioned Act, the Authority

shall be a body corporate which shall consist of a Chairman and six

76
full-time members, together with six part-time members, all

appointed by the Central Government. The assets and liabilities of

the Central Government in relation to national highways are then

transferred to the Authority under Section 12. Under Sections 14

and Section15, contracts that can be made on behalf of the Authority can

only be made, if they exceed a certain value, after previous approval

by the Government. Section 16 deals with the functions of the

Authority, which makes it clear that these are governmental

functions to be carried out only by the Government or by its agent

appointed in this behalf.

62. Under Section 19, the budget prepared for the Authority has

to be sent to the Central Government, capital and grants to the

authority being made by the Central Government into the fund of the

Authority (see Sections 17 and 18 of the NHAI Act supra). Likewise,

an annual report is to be given to the Central Government under

Section 22. Accounts and audit have to be made in consultation with

the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and furnished to the

Central Government, which have then to be laid before the

77
Parliament [see Sections 22 to 24 of the NHAI Act (supra)]. Under

Section 33, the Central Government can issue directions on

questions of policy, which would then be binding on the Authority.

63. From a conspectus of the above provisions, what is clear is

that NHAI is a statutory body which functions as an extended limb of

the Central Government, and performs governmental functions

which obviously cannot be taken over by a resolution professional

under the Insolvency Code, or by any other corporate body. Nor can

such Authority ultimately be wound-up under the Insolvency Code.

For all these reasons, it is not possible to accede to Dr. Singhvi’s

argument to either read in, or read down, the definition of ‘corporate

person’ in Section 3(7) of the Insolvency Code.

64. Even otherwise, on the footing that the NHAI can be roped in

under the Insolvency Code, this Court in K. Kishan (supra) has

held:

“22. Following this judgment, it becomes clear
that operational creditors cannot use the
Insolvency Code either prematurely or for
extraneous considerations or as a substitute
for debt enforcement procedures. The
alarming result of an operational debt

78
contained in an arbitral award for a small
amount of say, two lakhs of rupees, cannot
possibly jeopardise an otherwise solvent
company worth several crores of rupees. Such
a company would be well within its rights to
state that it is challenging the arbitral award
passed against it, and the mere factum of
challenge would be sufficient to state that it
disputes the award. Such a case would clearly
come within para 38 of SectionMobilox
Innovations [Mobilox Innovations (P)
Ltd. v. Kirusa Software (P) Ltd., (2018) 1 SCC
353 : (2018) 1 SCC (Civ) 311] , being a case
of a pre-existing ongoing dispute between the
parties. The Code cannot be used in
terrorem to extract this sum of money of
rupees two lakhs even though it may not be
finally payable as adjudication proceedings in
respect thereto are still pending. We repeat
that the object of the Code, at least insofar as
operational creditors are concerned, is to put
the insolvency process against a corporate
debtor only in clear cases where a real dispute
between the parties as to the debt owed does
not exist.

xxx xxx xxx

27. We repeat with emphasis that under our
Code, insofar as an operational debt is
concerned, all that has to be seen is whether
the said debt can be said to be disputed, and
we have no doubt in stating that the filing of a
Section 34 petition against an arbitral award
shows that a pre-existing dispute which
culminates at the first stage of the proceedings
in an award, continues even after the award,

79
at least till the final adjudicatory process under
Sections 34 and Section37 has taken place.”

65. In this view of the matter, the moment challenges are made

to the arbitral awards, the amount said to be due by an operational

debtor would become disputed, and therefore be outside the

clutches of the Insolvency Code. Looked at from any point of view,

therefore, proceeding against the NHAI under the Insolvency code

by the Petitioner No.1 is not possible.

66. Dr. Singhvi then argued that under Section 5(9) of the

Insolvency Code, ‘financial position’ is defined, which is only taken

into account after a resolution professional is appointed, and is not

taken into account when adjudicating ‘default’ under Section 3(12) of

the Insolvency Code. This does not in any manner lead to the

position that such provision is manifestly arbitrary. As has been held

by our judgment in SectionPioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure

Limited and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors. (2019) 8 SCC 416,

the Insolvency Code is not meant to be a recovery mechanism (see

paragraph 41 thereof) – the idea of the Insolvency Code being a

mechanism which is triggered in order that resolution of stressed

80
assets then takes place. For this purpose, the definitions of ‘dispute’

under Section 5(6), ‘claim’ under Section 3(6), ‘debt’ under Section

3(11), and ‘default’ under Section 3(12), have all to be read together.

Also, the Insolvency Code, belonging to the realm of economic

legislation, raises a higher threshold of challenge, leaving the

Parliament a free play in the joints, as has been held in SectionSwiss

Ribbons (P) Ltd. v. UOI (2019) 4 SCC 17 (see paragraphs 17 to 24

thereof). For all these reasons, this contention of Dr. Singhvi must

needs be rejected.

67. Dr. Singhvi’s argument as to the need to fill in a casus

omissus in the Code in order that his client get relief is again not

tenable. The argument that an Order VIII-A CPC type mechanism is

missing, and can be provided by us through interpretation – there

being no third-party procedure by which debts owed to persons like

the Petitioner can then be, by some theory of contribution or

indemnity, fastened on to PSUs when operational creditors invoke

the Insolvency Code against persons like the Petitioner – is again an

81
argument which is answered by stating that the Insolvency Code is

not meant to be a debt recovery legislation.

68. The argument of Shri Rai that the definition of ‘dispute’ under

Section 5(6) of the Insolvency Code does not speak of the ‘parties’

to a dispute, and can therefore be interpreted to include a dispute

between a sub-contractor and the principal employer with whom the

sub-contractor may have no privity of contract, also does not

commend itself to us. The definition of ‘dispute’ in Section 5(6) of the

Insolvency Code deals with a suit or arbitration proceedings relating

to one of three things – (a) the existence of the amount of debt; (b)

the quality of goods or service; or (c) the breach of a representation

or warranty.

69. Insofar as (a) is concerned, the definition of the word ‘debt’

contained in Section 3(11) of the Insolvency Code, refers to a

liability or obligation in respect of a claim which is due from any

person. This necessarily postulates the existence of a contractual or

other relationship, which gives rise to a liability or obligation between

parties in law. The same goes for (c), as a breach of a

82
representation or warranty can only be by one contracting party to

another. Also, when the quality of goods or service is referred to in

(b), this again postulates some contractual or other relationship in

law by which one party may sue the other.

70. In Mobilox (supra), after setting out the definition of ‘dispute’,

this Court held:

“34. Therefore, the adjudicating authority,
when examining an application under Section
9 of the Act will have to determine:

i. Whether there is an “operational debt” as
defined exceeding Rs 1 lakh? (See
Section 4 of the Act)

ii. Whether the documentary evidence
furnished with the application shows that
the aforesaid debt is due and payable and
has not yet been paid? And

iii. Whether there is existence of a dispute
between the parties or the record of the
pendency of a suit or arbitration
proceeding filed before the receipt of the
demand notice of the unpaid operational
debt in relation to such dispute?

If any one of the aforesaid conditions is
lacking, the application would have to be
rejected. Apart from the above, the
adjudicating authority must follow the mandate

83
of Section 9, as outlined above, and in
particular the mandate of Section 9(5) of the
Act, and admit or reject the application, as the
case may be, depending upon the factors
mentioned in Section 9(5) of the Act.”

71. It is clear therefore that a dispute must be between the

parties as understood under the Insolvency Code, which does not

contain an Order VIII-A CPC type mechanism. This contention must

also therefore be rejected.

72. For all these reasons, we find the challenge to the provisions

of Insolvency Code, insofar as the present Writ Petitions are

concerned, to be wholly devoid of merit.

Conclusion on facts

73. In the Writ Petition No.1074 of 2019 filed on 16.08.2019, the

Petitioner company had alleged that a sum of INR 6070 crores was

the sum awarded to the Petitioner company under various arbitral

awards from 2008 to 2019 which had been challenged by the

Respondent PSUs before various Courts, but the operation of which

had not been stayed by such courts. On this factual premise, the

Petitioner sought interim reliefs from this Court for the repayment of

84
the said amounts from the Respondent PSUs, so as to enable it to

repay its pending dues to its own operational creditors. This Court

recorded as much in its order dated 13.09.2019 in Writ Petition

No.1074 of 2019 as follows:

“The two interlocutory applications are filed for
two reliefs. One is to stay further proceedings
before the National Company Law Tribunal,
and the second is to direct respondent nos.5-8
– Union of India, National Highways Authority
of India, NHPC Ltd., IRCON International Ltd.
and NTPC Limited to pay off amounts due
under the Awards of Arbitrators which have
not been stayed by any Court, amounting to a
sum of Rs.6,070 crores.

Dr. Singhvi, learned Senior Counsel, states
that his client will pay the Operational
Creditors in these two interlocutory
applications, amounts of Rs.8.81 crores and
26.21 crores within a period of 12 weeks from
today. We record the aforesaid statement.

We also issue notice to the Respondents in
the two interlocutory applications.

Dasti service, in addition, is permitted.

List the matter on 04th October, 2019.

Dr. Singhvi further states that this order which
is passed by us at 11:45am today, will be
communicated orally to the NCLT which,

85
apparently, is taking up these matters today.

(emphasis supplied)

74. However, in its Counter Affidavit dated 21.10.2019, the Union

of India contended that this prayer was ‘factually incorrect’ and

‘deliberately misleading’. The Union of India reproduced charts filed

by IRCON, NHPC and NHAI before this Court regarding the status

of arbitral awards against them in favour of the Petitioner company

(as on 30.09.2019), which detailed, inter alia, (i) the value of the

contract between the Petitioner company and the Respondent PSU;

(ii) the amount already paid by the Respondent PSU to the

Petitioner under the said contract; (iii) the Petitioner’s principal claim

against the Respondent PSU in the arbitration; (iv) the amount

awarded in favour of the Petitioner in the arbitration; (v) the amounts

paid/deposited by the Respondent PSU by which the competent

Court had granted stay; (vi) the balance amount due to the

Petitioner; and (vii) whether stay orders were granted by competent

Courts in respect of the arbitral awards. On the basis of these

charts, the Union of India contended that the Petitioner company

had deliberately suppressed the fact that these Respondent PSUs

86
had stay orders in their favour in respect of some of these arbitral

awards, and that these PSUs had already paid/deposited a

substantial amount (approximately 83.30%) payable by them under

the arbitral awards, after which stay orders in respect of these

arbitral awards were granted. The figures mentioned in the charts

were succinctly summarised in a table in the Counter Affidavit, which

is reproduced below:

NAME OF THE PSU TOTAL AMOUNT OF TOTAL AMOUNT

AWARDS IN PAID/DEPOSITED BY

FAVOUR OF THE THE PSU PENDING

PETITIONER THE STATUTORY

CHALLENGE OF THE

AWARD

NHPC 1063.82 932.03

NHAI 2343.23 2025.62

IRCON 268.10 119.06

NTPC 116.15 81.70

87
TOTAL 3791.30 3158.41 [83.30%]

(Figures in INR Crores)

75. Pertinently, the Union of India alleged that none of the stay

orders obtained by the Respondent PSUs in respect of these arbitral

awards were under the automatic-stay mode, or under Section 87 of

the 2019 SectionAmendment Act. Instead, it was contended that the said

stay orders were granted by the competent Court on an application

filed by the Respondent PSUs, a hearing of the said application on

merits, and upon the condition that portions of the arbitral awards be

paid/deposited in the Court.

76. The Union of India also strongly denied the Petitioner

company’s contention that it was in financial distress due to the non-

payment of contractual dues owed to it by the Respondent PSUs,

which allegedly left it susceptible to being proceeded against under

the Code by its various creditors. The Union of India alleged that the

Petitioner has been paid the amount of the contract, even with

escalation, in almost all cases. In fact, it was contended in the

Counter Affidavit that the Petitioner company had been paid more

88
than the initial contract value by the Respondent PSUs

(approximately 117%). The Union of India further contended that

most of the claims raised by the Petitioner company against the

Respondent PSUs are outside the scope of the basic contract value

– such as ‘loss of profit’ etc. – which would in any event not have any

impact on the financial health of the company. This, the Union of

India alleged, demonstrated that it was ‘absolutely false’ that the

Petitioner company had been relegated to insolvency due to the

non-payment of dues by the Respondent PSUs.

77. The Petitioner company then filed an Additional Affidavit

dated 04.11.2019 before this Court, wherein it admitted that, as on

31.08.2019, the Petitioner company, while due a sum of INR

6373.82 crores from the Respondent PSUs, had already received

INR 951.51 crores through court orders, and INR 1530.89 crores

through the NITI Aayog Scheme (totalling INR 2482.4 crores). The

Petitioner company then itself challenged as incorrect some of the

figures and statements placed on record by the Union of India in its

Counter Affidavit, particularly those on the status of Court

89
proceedings in relation to arbitral-awards in favour of the Petitioner

company.

78. A perusal of the rival contentions makes it clear that there is a

factual dispute between the parties relating to: (I) the exact quantum

of the arbitral-awards in favour of the Petitioner company due from

the Respondent PSUs; (II) the amounts which may have already

been paid and/or deposited by the Respondent PSUs in favour of

the Petitioner company under the said arbitral awards; and (III)

whether stay orders of competent Courts were passed in respect of

these arbitral awards, and if so, whether they were under the

automatic-stay mode or not.

79. It is settled law that when exercising its jurisdiction under

SectionArticle 32 of the Constitution, this Court cannot embark on a detailed

investigation of disputed facts. A five-Judge bench of this Court in

Gulabdas Co. v. Asstt. Collector of Customs AIR 1957 SC 733,

was seized of a batch of Writ Petitions filed under SectionArticle 32, wherein

the petitioners (who were Indian importers of stationary articles)

alleged that the Central Board of Revenue had acted erroneously by

90
imposing tax upon ‘crayons’ imported by them, which were not

taxable, incorrectly assuming them to be ‘colour pencils’. Dismissing

these Writ Petitions, this Court held as follows:

“15. The contention that the impugned orders
are manifestly erroneous, because “Crayons”
have been treated as ‘coloured pencils’ is not
a contention which can be gone into on an
application under SectionArticle 32 of the Constitution.
It has no bearing on the question of the
enforcement of a fundamental right, nor can
the question be decided without first
determining what constitutes the distinction
between a ‘coloured pencil’ and a ‘crayon’, a
distinction which must require an investigation
into disputed facts and materials. This was a
matter for the Customs authorities to decide,
and it is obvious that this Court cannot, on an
application under SectionArticle 32 of the Constitution,
embark on such an investigation.”
(emphasis supplied)

80. To similar effect is the decision in SectionSurendra Prasad Khugsal

v. Chairman, MMTC. 1994 Supp. (1) SCC 87, where this Court

held:

“6. We have heard both the parties in all the
petitions at some length. The petitioners in all
the petitions place their reliance on the
decision in the M.M.R. Khan case [1990 Supp
SCC 191 : 1990 SCC (LS) 632 : (1991) 16
ATC 541] . However, we find that the said
case which admittedly concerned the canteen

91
workers both in the statutory canteens and
recognised non-statutory canteens was
decided on the facts in those cases including
the provisions of the Railway Manual, the
notifications and circulars issued by the
Railway Board from time to time and other
documents which pertained to the workers
employed in the said canteens. None of the
material which was taken into consideration
there has relevance to the workers concerned
in the present canteens. On the other hand,
there are disputed facts in the present case
which cannot be resolved in a writ petition
under SectionArticle 32. We, therefore, find that this
Court is not the proper forum to decide the
present disputes.”
(emphasis supplied)

81. More recently, this Court in SectionSumedha Nagpal v. State of

Delhi (2000) 9 SCC 745 held:

“2. Both parties do recognise that the question
of custody of the child will have to be
ultimately decided in proceedings arising
under Section 25 of the Guardians SectionWards
Act read with Section 6 of the Act and while
deciding such a question, welfare of the minor
child is of primary consideration. Allegations
and counter-allegations have been made in
this case by the petitioner and Respondent 2
against each other narrating circumstances as
to how the estrangement took place and how
each one of them is entitled to the custody of
the child. Since these are disputed facts,
unless the pleadings raised by the parties are
examined with reference to evidence by an

92
appropriate forum, a proper decision in the
matter cannot be taken and such a course is
impossible in a summary proceeding such as
writ petition under SectionArticle 32 of the
Constitution.”
(emphasis supplied)

82. This Court cannot, therefore, in exercise of its jurisdiction

under SectionArticle 32 of the Constitution undertake a detailed

investigation to determine the status of monies paid/deposited

pursuant to arbitral-awards in favour of the Petitioner company.

Consequently, no directions in respect thereof can be made in the

present proceedings.

83. Dr. Singhvi then argued that the NITI Aayog Office’s

Memorandum dated 05.09.2016, which contained a scheme by

which contractors were able to retrieve 75% of awarded amounts

together with interest thereon – referred to as “pay-out amount” – is

arbitrary only to a limited extent. He had no quarrel with the fact that

a bank guarantee should be given under the scheme to secure the

pay-out amount, but argued that an additional bank guarantee of

10% per year on the pay-out amount, which is then compounded

annually, is arbitrary and should be struck down under SectionArticle 14.

93
This being severable, he contended that the scheme can remain,

with the requirement of a ‘top-up’ bank guarantee of 10% per annum

being struck down. A look at the circular dated 05.09.2016 shows

that the scheme is in order that the hardship felt by the construction

sector, thanks to the automatic-stay regime under Section 36 as

originally enacted, be mitigated. It can thus be seen that the scheme

is so that the construction sector can get the fruits of arbitral awards

in their favour, which otherwise was not available at the time under

the law. Dr. Singhvi’s client was free to avail of the circular on its

terms, or not to avail of the said circular. Having availed of the

benefit contained in the circular, it is not possible for his client to now

turn around and state, years after availing this benefit, that one part

of the circular is onerous and should be struck down. Even

otherwise, we find nothing arbitrary in requiring a 10% additional

bank guarantee per annum so that the scheme be availed. Had the

scheme not been open-ended, and had it ended within one year,

there would have been no need for this 10% additional bank

guarantee. It is only because the bank guarantee may be renewed

for 75% of the pay-out amount that has been disbursed to

94
contractors, that this condition is said to be onerous. We find that in

point of fact the 10% extra bank guarantee is only to ensure that the

further interest component per annum also gets covered, so that the

Government/Government bodies are able to claim these amounts in

case the bank guarantees have to be encashed. We, therefore, find

no substance in this plea and reject it.

84. All the Writ Petitions are disposed of in the light of this

judgment.

85. Accordingly, M.A. Nos. 2140-2144 of 2019 in C.A. Nos.2621-

2625 of 2019 are allowed in terms of prayer (a) therein.

……………………………J.

(R.F. Nariman)

……………………………J.

(Surya Kant)

……………………………J.

(V. Ramasubramanian)

New Delhi;

November 27, 2019

95

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