In the case of an arbitration other than international commercial arbitration, the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction in a district, and includes the High Court in exercise of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction, having jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the subject-matter of the arbitration if the same had been the subject-matter of a suit, but does not include any civil court of a grade inferior to such principal Civil Court, or any Court of Small Causes;"
· Hardy Exploration – Not a good law:
It was on the basis of the above observations that the Supreme Court held that the judgment of a coordinate bench in Union of India v. Hardy Exploration and Production (India) Inc ["Hardy Exploration"] does not lay down a good law. In the said case, the arbitration clause specifically provided that the 'venue' of arbitration shall be Kuala Lumpur and the arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration of 1985. The Court had observed that (a) under the Model Law, either the juridical seat of the arbitral proceedings is indicated in the agreement between the parties, or if it is not, must be determined by the Arbitral Tribunal, (b) there is no confusion with regard to what the seat of arbitration and venue of arbitration mean. The arbitration Clause has to be read in a holistic manner so as to determine the jurisdiction of the Court. However, while making these observations, it went on to further hold that the word 'place' cannot be used as 'seat', and a 'venue' can become a 'seat' if something else is added to it as a concomitant and thus, came to a conclusion that Kuala Lumpur is not the 'seat/place' of arbitration. It was this criteria added by the Court to determine the 'venue' as a 'place' of arbitration which was specifically rejected by Supreme Court in BGS Soma and it was held that Kuala Lumpur, would be the juridical 'seat' of the arbitration as there is no other contrary indicator.
· The rule of 'judicial discipline' and 'propriety':
However, the judgment in BGS Soma holding Hardy Exploration as not a good law raises a serious issue of judicial discipline and propriety. It is a settled law that a coordinate Bench has to respect the judgments and orders passed by another coordinate Bench and further, a Constitution Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community & Anr v. State of Maharashtra & Anr, has inter alia specifically held that the law laid down by the Supreme Court in a decision delivered by a Bench of larger strength is binding on any subsequent Bench of lesser or coequal strength and, it will be open only for a Bench of coequal strength to express an opinion doubting the correctness of the view taken by the earlier Bench of coequal strength, whereupon the matter may be placed for hearing before a Bench consisting of a quorum larger than the one which pronounced the decision laying down the law the correctness of which is doubted. The judgment in BGS Soma as well as Hardy Exploration was given by benches comprising of three judges and therefore, in BGS Soma, the Court should have referred the matter to larger bench instead of itself determining whether law laid down in Hardy Exploration is a good or bad law.
 Food Corpn. of India v. Indian Council of Arbitration, AIR 2003 SC 3011 : (2003) 6 SCC 564, Korp. Gems (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Precious Diamond Limited, (2007) 2 CHN 544 : (2007) 3 Arb LR 32.
 MTNL v. Applied Electronics Ltd., (2017) 2 SCC 37.
 East India Commercial Co., Ltd. Calcutta v. Collector of Customs, Calcutta, AIR 1962 SC 1893.
 Hakam Singh v. Gammom (India) Ltd., (1971) 1 SCC 286, Rajasthan SRT v. Bal Mukund Bairwa (2), (2009) 4 SCC 299.
 (2012) 9 SCC 552.
 (2007) 1 All ER (Comm) 591.
 2007 EWCA Civ 1282 (Civ).
 2009 EWHC 957 (Comm).
 (2014) 5 SCC 1.
 (2017) 7 SCC 678.
 2019 SCC Online SC 929 dated 25.07.2019.
 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1585 dated 10.12.2019.
 2018 SCC Online SC 1640 dated 25.09.2018.
 Sandhya Educational Society v. Union of India, (2014) 7 SCC 701.
 (2005) 2 SCC 673 (5J).
 Articles 20 and 31(3) of UNCITRAL Model Law.
 2019 SCC Online Del 8445 dated 10.05.2019.
 Arb. P. No. 32 of 2018 decided on 05.03.2020.