In the present case, an application was filed for setting aside the Arbitral award which was preferred beyond 120 days and the same was not entertained by the court while observing the specific bar under section 34(3)of Arbitration and Conciliation Act,1996. The court while observing the judgment laid down in Union of India vs. M/s Popular Construction Company holds that “after a period of 90 days is over, a further period of 30 days can be condoned but beyond that, no power of condonation has been given.”
Denouncing the orders, Advocate Devashish Bharuka, before Apex Court, on behalf of NHAI, contended that the governance after the amendment under section 36, up to an extent, has been diluted by a 2015 amendment and that the relaxation of the regime under section 36 must have some reflection on the term “but not thereafter” as appearing in section 34(3) of the Act.
The division bench comprising of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran while rejecting these contentions,opined “In our considered view, both these provisions stand on different footings. What is provided under Section 34(3) is the outer limit within which the application can be preferred for setting aside the arbitral award. The law laid down on the point by this Court is very clear and in our view the subsequent amendment in our view the subsequent amendment in 2015 would not change the character of the mandate under Section 34(3) of the Act.”
In Simplex Infrastructure Limited Vs. Union of India the Hon'ble Apex Court had remarked that the application for setting aside the award on the grounds mentioned in sub-section (2) of section 34 could be made under the time limit of three months, the period of the same can be extended for a further period of thirty days on showing sufficient cause and not thereafter. The court said that the words “but not thereafter” in the proviso make it clear that the extension cannot be beyond thirty days.
Therefore the Hon'ble Apex Court has adhered that the mandate under section 34 (3) of Arbitration and Conciliation Act providing an outer limit of 120 days to file an application to set aside arbitral award remains unchanged even after the amendment of 2015.
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