Sep 19, 2016

HC express discomfort over ‘cumbersome’ arbitration rules of Railways



Petition seeks termination of Arbitral Tribunal and appointment of arbitrator

Chennai: Expressing its displeasure with the Railways for failing to conduct arbitration proceedings in various cases, the Madras High Court has observed that the Railway Board could have a re-look on the “cumbersome” arbitration clause, citing the numerous petitions being filed before the High Court.
The observations of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul was made during the hearing of a plea by petitioner G.A. Sridhar, who sought to terminate the mandate of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the Railways and further sought to appoint an independent arbitrator to adjudicate on all disputes and claims arising out of an agreement made with the Railways in 2006.

On perusing the counter-affidavit filed by the Railways, the judge said it really said “nothing much” and denied the allegations of the petitioner.

“This court had faced repeatedly matters on account of the failure to conduct the arbitration proceedings by the railways,” he said.

Recalling his observation made during the last hearing of the case on July 29 that that the Railway Board should have a re-look on the cumbersome arbitration clause and the repeated failure of setting in motion the arbitration process, the judge noted, “To the court query, again there is no response and all that is stated it is the matter to be looked by the Railway Board.

The only conclusion to reach was that the whole concept of the arbitration ought not to fail and the Arbitrator has to be appointed by this court, the judge observed and appointed retired High Court judge Justice I. David Christian as the Sole Arbitrator in the case. Although the judge was inclined to seek personal presence of the General Manager of Southern Railway, counsel for the Railways stated that he would obtain requisite instructions from the board.

GM summoned

“It is made clear that it is for this purpose alone the matter has been listed and in the failure to do so, there is little option but to call for the presence of the General Manager, Southern Railway or someone from the Railway Board for appropriate information,” the Chief Justice said and listed the matter for compliance on November 18 this year.

Supreme Court clears Railway projects stalled by NGT

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the National Green Tribunal’s May 31 order mandating environmental clearance for metro rail and railways’ dedicated freight corridor projects. The Bench passed the order as authorities questioned the logic behind stalling such projects primarily meant for reducing pollution by offering eco-friendly mode of transport. Appearing for the Noida-Greater Noida metro project, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the Centre’s 2006 notification had clearly exempted such projects from the purview of environment impact assessment.