HC agrees to hear Defence Ministry plea against AgustaWestland
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) challenging the arbitration proceedings going on between AgustaWestland and the MoD.
The Ministry has moved the high court seeking order to restrain hearing in Arbitration Tribunal which was initiated by AgustaWestland.
However, Justice Pratibha M. Singh refused to grant any interim order to stay the proceedings before the Arbitration Tribunal. The Tribunal will hear the matter on January 10.
The high court has asked AgustaWestland to file reply on the MoD plea within three weeks. The Defence Ministry would file a rejoinder to the AgustaWestland's response within two weeks.
Thereafter, the court has listed the matter for further hearing on February 28.
AgustaWestland had invoked the arbitration process after the government cancelled the helicopter deal.
The government had terminated the Rs 3,600-crore deal with AgustaWestland for the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers over allegations of kickbacks having been paid to fix the deal.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand told the court that various allegations were raised in respect of the entire transaction. She said that the matter cannot be heard by a tribunal as the allegations of corruption, fraud and bribery have surfaced.
The ASG told the court that the arbitral proceedings deserve to be stayed as the mandate of the Arbitral Tribunal stands terminated in terms of Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
Senior Counsel Arun Kathpalia, appearing for the Agusta, submitted that the present case is not governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Act, inasmuch as the arbitral proceedings had commenced much prior to the Amendment Act of 2015 coming into force.
Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act deals with the time limit, laying down that the arbitral award shall be made within a period of 12 months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference.
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