The Supreme Court today directed the Delhi High Court to proceed with the execution of the Rs 4,600 crore arbitration award granted in favour of Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL), which had pulled out from running the Airport Express metro line over safety issues, and take it to a logical end within three months.

An arbitral tribunal had ruled in favour of Reliance Infra's DAMEPL and accepted its claim that running the operations on the line was not viable due to structural defects in the viaduct through which the train would pass.

Observing that law with regard to execution is not different for the government or its statutory corporations, a Bench of Justice B R Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath said the arbitration award in favour of DAMEPL has reached finality.

"In ordinary circumstances we would not have entertained the matter. The arbitration award passed in favour of the petitioner has reached finality as appeal filed by respondent has been dismissed", the Court said.

"The law of execution is not different for the government or statutory organizations. We, therefore, direct the High Court to proceed expeditiously and take it to its logical end within a period of three months," the bench said.

The Court was hearing a plea seeking enforcement of the arbitration award in favour of DAMEPL to be paid by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, objected to the maintainability of the DAMEPL's appeal, saying it was filed against an adjournment order of the High Court.

Pointing to lack of funds, Venkataramani said, "I do not have money or gold in some bank account that I can just give it. It has to go through a process. The government will pass it in the bill to apportion funds."

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for DAMEPL, said the government is not committing itself to giving the money. "If they are unable to commit funds, let me attach their properties. Do not let this circus continue," Salve said.

Venkataramani retorted, saying, "It is a serious matter, do not call it a circus please."

Salve said if the DMRC were a private party, the Court would have directed payment within two weeks.

The Apex Court said that it will ask the high court to decide the matter expeditiously.

The DMRC had earlier earlier told the Delhi High Court it had written to its equity partners the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi for assistance so it could pay the award money to Reiance Infra-promoted DAMEPL.

The DMRC had in 2008 entered into a contract with DAMEPL for design, installation, comissioning, operation and maintenance of the metro line. However, the matter went into arbitration due to some disputes and the arbitration award was granted in favour of DAMEPL in 2017.

The Court had on May 5 upheld a Delhi High Court order directing the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to pay over Rs 4,600 crore of arbitral award along with interest to the DAMEPL in two equal installments in two months.

With PTI Inputs