The Supreme Court, in Alka Chandewar vs Shamshul Ishrar Khan, has held that an arbitral tribunal is empowered to make representation to the court for contempt if the orders, including the interim orders passed by the arbitrator, are violated by the parties before it.
The appeal was against a Bombay High Court judgment which had held that such a representation by the Arbitral Tribunal is not maintainable as section 27(5) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, does not empower the tribunal to make representation to the court for contempt if the orders including the interim orders passed by the arbitrator, except in respect of taking evidence, are violated by the party.
Referring to Section 27(5), the bench comprising Justice RF Nariman and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed that persons failing to attend in accordance with the court process fall under a separate category from “any other default” and the Section is not confined to a person being guilty of contempt only when failing to attend in accordance with such process. The Section specifically states that persons guilty of any contempt to the Arbitral Tribunal during the conduct of the Arbitral proceedings is within its ken, the bench observed.
The court also observed that it is to give teeth to such orders that an express provision is made in Section 27(5) of the Act. “The entire object of providing that a party may approach the Arbitral Tribunal instead of the Court for interim reliefs would be stultified if interim orders passed by such Tribunal are toothless,” it said.
Setting aside the judgment, the court remanded the matter to high court for it to decide it on facts.
Read the Judgment Here