The Himachal Pradesh High Court observed that Arbitrators like retired High Court Judges who hold high office, ought not to be put in such an embarrassing position by parties forcing them to defend their reputation in Courts.

The court said that a party is not allowed to presume any disqualification which may be incurred by an arbitrator and straightway approach the Court without giving him the opportunity to rebut the same.

The Court further held that it would give a handle to unscrupulous litigants who perceive for whatever reason that an Arbitrator may hold against them, to make such allegations without any basis and embarrass the Arbitrators.

The bench of Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao observed, “it is not open to a party to presume for himself any disqualification, which may be incurred by an Arbitrator under the 7th Schedule of the Act, and straightway approach the Court without giving an opportunity to the Arbitrator to rebut the same.”

Advocate Navneet Kumar Bhalla appeared for the Appellant and Senior Advocate Sudhir Thakur and Senior Advocate Neeraj Gupta appeared for the Respondents.

An Application was filed to terminate the Arbitrator's mandate under Section 14 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996.

The applicant Pawan Sahni approached the High Court to terminate the mandate of Arbitrator. Respondent Satish Sharma filed an application under Section 11 of the Act, the Arbitrator was appointed by the then Chief Justice of the High Court. Thereafter the Arbitrator submitted his declaration under Section 12 of the Act. After issuing a notice for appearance, the parties appeared before him. Subsequently, statements of claim and defence were filed by the parties.

The present application, filed under Section 14 of the Act, alleged a relationship between the respondent and the Arbitrator.

The Court noted that the Arbitrator voluntarily withdrew from the office of the Arbitrator in the pending Arbitration proceedings between the parties, though he has no personal interest in any party.

The Court stated that it is unfortunate that parties seek to impute motives etc. to Arbitrators without even giving any opportunity to the Arbitrators, as required by Section 13(2) of the Act, to rebut such allegations which may be false and thereby embarrass the Arbitrators.

The Court recorded strong disapproval of the conduct of the applicant and appointed B.S. Walia former Judge of the Punjab & Haryana High Court as an Arbitrator.

The Court disposed of the application.

Cause Title: Pawan Sahni v. Satish Sharma


Appellant: Adv. Navneet Kumar Bhalla

Respondent: Senior Adv. Sudhir Thakur, Senior Adv. Neeraj Gupta, Adv. Parul Negi, Adv. Karun Negi

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