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Arbitration = 30 days limitation for filing objections for award, is from the date of notice and not from the date of knowledge of filing of the award in the court =The Division Bench of the High Court has taken a view in the impugned order that as the Executive Engineer was looking after the arbitration proceedings, he was the one who could have filed the objections to the award on behalf of the Union of India and thus notice of the filing of the award on the Executive Engineer was mandatory and the starting point of

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 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1734 OF 2006

Union of India & Anr. ... Appellants

 Versus

M/s Deepak Electric & Trading Company 

& Anr. ... Respondents

 J U D G M E N T

A. K. PATNAIK, J.

 This is an appeal against the order dated 03.01.2003 of 

the Division Bench of the High Court of Delhi in FAO(OS) No. 

551 of 2001 (for short `the impugned order').

2. The facts very briefly are that the appellants and the 

respondent No.1 entered into a contract for construction of 

PMT Complex for NSG at Manesar. The contract contained an 

arbitration clause for resolving disputes between the parties. 

As disputes arose between the parties, the respondent No.1 

invoked the arbitration clause and an arbitrator was 

appointed. The arbitrator published his award on 17.06.1996 

 2

and on 08.07.1996, the respondents filed a petition in the 

High Court of Delhi under Sections 14 and 17 of the 

Arbitration Act, 1940 (for short `the Act') for filing the award 

and for making the award a rule of the court and for passing a 

decree in terms of the award. The petition was registered as 

Suit No.1673-A/1996. After the award was filed, notice of the 

filing of the award was directed to be issued to the parties on 

13.01.1997. Notice was served on the Union of India, but 

notice could not be served on the Executive Engineer, 

C.P.W.D. A letter dated 21.03.1997 was addressed by the 

Executive Engineer to the Registrar of the Delhi High Court 

saying that he had not received a formal notice from the court. 

On 17.07.1997, fresh notice was again directed to be issued to 

the Executive Engineer.

3. While service of notice on the Executive Engineer was 

awaited, Union of India filed objections to the award of the 

arbitrator numbered as IA 9423 of 1997. The respondent No.1 

contended that the objections filed by the Union of India to the 

award of the arbitrator were not within the period of limitation, 

i.e. 30 days from the date of service of the notice of filing of the 

award. The appellants, on the other hand, contended that the 

 3

Executive Engineer had not been served with the notice of 

filing of award and, therefore, limitation had not been begun to 

run. The learned Single Judge of the High Court held that 

under Section 79 of the Code of Civil Procedure (for short `the 

CPC') when suits are filed against the Central Government, 

only the Union of India has to be arrayed as a party and the 

Executive Engineer by no stretch of imagination can be taken 

to be a party in such proceedings. The learned Single Judge 

further held that as the Union of India had filed objections, the 

Court was only considering the objections of the Union of 

India and the Union of India had been served with a notice of 

filing of the award in November, 1996. The learned Single 

Judge, therefore, held that the objections of the Union of India 

to the award were time barred and made the award a rule of 

the court. 

4. Aggrieved, the appellants filed FAO(OS) No. 551 of 2001 

before the Division Bench of the High Court. After hearing 

learned counsel for the parties, the Division Bench held in the 

impugned order that in Union of India vs. Surinder Kumar [61 

(1996) DLT 42 (D.B.)], the Delhi High Court has already taken 

a view that it was necessary that a notice of filing of the award 

 4

has to be served on the Executive Engineer as it was the 

Executive Engineer who on behalf of the Union of India was 

looking after the proceedings before the arbitrator. The 

Division Bench, however, held that as the learned counsel on 

behalf of the Executive Engineer had inspected the record of 

the case in the court on 21.05.1997, the Executive Engineer 

will be deemed to have acquired knowledge of the filing of the 

award on 21.05.1997 and the period of 30 days counted from 

21.05.1997 had expired by the time objections were filed by 

the Union of India and the objections to the award were time 

barred. Accordingly, the Division Bench of the High Court 

dismissed the appeal of the appellants by the impugned order.

5. We have heard Mr. A.S. Chandhiok, learned Additional 

Solicitor General for the appellants. No one has appeared for 

the respondents despite notice.

6. The only question, which we have to decide in this case, 

is whether the Division Bench of the High Court has taken a 

correct view in the impugned order that the objections to the 

award were time barred. Article 119 of the Schedule to the 

Limitation Act, 1963, which prescribes the period of limitation 

 5

for filing applications under the Arbitration Act, 1940, is 

quoted hereinbelow: 

"

 Description of of 
 Period of of 
 Time from which 

 application limitation period begins to run

119. Under the Arbitration 

 Act, 1940 (10 of 

 1940)-

 (a) for the filing in Thirty The date of service 

 court of an award. days of the notice of the 

 making of the 

 award.

 (b) for setting aside 

 an award or getting an Thirty The date of service 

 award remitted for days of the notice of the 

 reconsideration filing of the award."

It will be clear from clause (b) of article 119 of the Schedule to 

the Limitation Act, 1963 that an application for setting aside of 

an award has to be filed within 30 days from "the date of 

service of the notice of the filing of the award". Thus, the 

starting point of limitation is the date of service of the notice of 

the filing of the award and not the date of knowledge of the 

filing of the award.

7. In support of this view that the starting point of 

limitation for filing objections to an award under the Act is the 

date of service of notice of the filing of the award, we may cite 

 6

an authority. In Deo Narain Choudhury vs. Shree Narain 

Choudhaury [(2008) 8 SCC 626], the facts were that on 

16.07.1996 the Court sent a notice to the parties about filing 

of the award and the notice was received by the respondent on 

25.07.1996 and the respondent filed his objections to the 

award on 21.08.1996. The appellant contended that the 

objections had been filed beyond the period of limitation as the 

respondent had received the notice from the arbitrator that the 

award had been filed and the respondent had also filed a 

caveat on 11.06.1996. This Court held that mere filing of the 

caveat did not start the period of limitation and as the notice 

was received by the respondent on 25.07.1996, the period of 

limitation started running from that date and, therefore, the 

objections filed on 21.08.1996 were within the period of 30 

days as provided by article 119 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

8. The Division Bench of the High Court has taken a view in 

the impugned order that as the Executive Engineer was 

looking after the arbitration proceedings, he was the one who 

could have filed the objections to the award on behalf of the 

Union of India and thus notice of the filing of the award on the 

Executive Engineer was mandatory and the starting point of 

 7

limitation for filing the application for setting aside the award 

would be the date of service of notice on the Executive 

Engineer as provided in article 119(b) of the Schedule to the 

Limitation Act, 1963. The High Court, therefore, was not right 

in coming to the conclusion that as the Executive Engineer 

had knowledge of the filing of the award on 21.05.1997 and as 

the objections were filed beyond the period of 30 days counted 

from 21.05.1997, the objections to the award were barred by 

time.

9. We, accordingly, set aside the order of the learned Single 

Judge as well as the impugned order of the Division Bench of 

the High Court and remand the matter to the Single Judge of 

the High Court for fresh decision in accordance with law. The 

appeal is allowed with no order as to costs.

 .............................J.
 (P. Sathasivam)

 .............................J.

 (A. K. Patnaik)

New Delhi,October 20, 2011. 

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