Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 – The jurisdiction in a first appeal arising out of a decree in a civil suit is distinct from the jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 37 of the 1996 Act arising from the disposal of a petition challenging an arbitral award under Section 34 of the 1996 Act.
In the present case, the High Court was required to determine as to whether the District Judge had acted contrary to the provisions of Section 34 of the 1996 Act in rejecting the challenge to the arbitral award. Apart from its failure to do so, the High Court went one step further while reversing the judgment of the District Judge in decreeing the claim in its entirety. This exercise was clearly impermissible. The arbitrator was entitled to draw relevant findings of fact on the basis of the evidence which was adduced by the parties. This was exactly what was done in the arbitral award. The award of the arbitrator was challenged unsuccessfully by the respondents under Section 34 of the 1996 Act. In this backdrop, there was no basis in law for the High Court to interfere with the judgment of the District Judge and, as we have noted earlier, to even go a step further by decreeing the claim. [Para 11 & 12]