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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Arbitration Act Sec.2(e)(1) and sec.42 - sec.15,16 and 20 of C.P.C - Sec.24 of C.P.C- Jurisdiction - Greater Mumbai has no other principal court for Great Mumbai District except high court so it is a principal court like District court of Thane - Award was passed on arbitration agreement at Greater Mumbai for the execution of Road works at Thane District - aggrieved by award one party approached District Court of Thane and other party approached High court - Transfer petition - High court order to transfer the case to High court from District court Thane to avoid conflict opinions - Which court holds Jurisdiction over the arbitration Award whether High court Mumbai or District court Thane? leads to civil appeal - Apex court held that as per sec. 42 of Arbitration act- No proceedings in different courts not allowable - as per sec. 2 (e)(1) .. court includes High court - Transferring a case from District court Thane to the High court is legal one and appropriate - Apex court clarified that provisions of C.P.C. in respect of jurisdiction Sec.15,16 and 20 have no application in this case as it is totally governed by sec. 2 (e)(1) of Arbitration Act = Executive Engineer, Road Development Division No.III, Panvel & Anr. … Appellants Versus Atlanta Limited … Respondent = 2014 ( January - Vol - 1) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name =41151

Arbitration Act  Sec.2(e)(1) and sec.42 - sec.15,16 and 20 of C.P.C - Sec.24 of C.P.C- Jurisdiction - Greater Mumbai has no other principal court for Great Mumbai District  except high court so it is a principal court like District court of Thane - Award was passed on arbitration agreement at Greater Mumbai for the execution of Road works at Thane District - aggrieved by award one party approached District Court of Thane and other party approached High court - Transfer petition - High court order to transfer the case to High court from District court Thane to avoid conflict opinions - Which court holds Jurisdiction over the arbitration Award  whether High court Mumbai or District court Thane? leads to civil appeal - Apex court held that as per sec. 42 of Arbitration act- No proceedings in different courts not allowable - as per sec. 2 (e)(1) .. court includes High court - Transferring a case from District court Thane to the High court is legal one and appropriate - Apex court clarified that provisions of C.P.C. in respect of jurisdiction Sec.15,16 and 20 have no application in this case as it is totally governed by sec. 2 (e)(1) of Arbitration Act =
one
Atlanta  Limited  raised  some
disputes through a communication  dated  1.10.2009.   
It  also  invoked  the
arbitration clause for resolution  of  the  said  disputes.   
The  State  of
Maharashtra as also Atlanta Limited nominated their respective  arbitrators,
who in turn, appointed the presiding  arbitrator.   
On  the  culmination  of
proceedings  before  the  arbitral  tribunal,  an  award  was  rendered   on
12.5.2012.  Almost all the claims raised by Atlanta  Limited  were  granted.
In sum and substance, Atlanta Limited was awarded a sum of Rs.58,59,31,595/-
 along with the contracted rate of interest (of  20  per  cent  per  annum),
with effect from 1.10.2009.  Atlanta Limited  was  also  awarded  a  sum  of
Rs.41,00,000/- towards costs.  All the counter claims raised  by  the  State
of Maharashtra, before the arbitral tribunal, were simultaneously rejected.

2.    On 7.8.2012, the State of Maharashtra moved Miscellaneous  Application
no. 229 of 2012 and Miscellaneous Application no. 230 of 2012 under  Section
34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996  (hereinafter  referred  to
as the ‘Arbitration Act’) before the District Judge, Thane.   
The  State  of
Maharashtra  through  the  aforesaid   Miscellaneous   Applications   sought
quashing and setting aside of the arbitral award dated 12.5.2012.

3.    On the same day, i.e., 7.8.2012,  Atlanta  Limited  filed  Arbitration
Petition no.1158 of 2012 before the  High  Court  of  Judicature  at  Bombay
(hereinafter referred to as the ‘High Court’),  for  the  setting  aside  of
some of the directions issued by the arbitral tribunal (in its  award  dated
12.5.2012).   Atlanta  Limited  also  claimed  further  compensation,  which
according to the respondent, had  wrongfully  not  been  considered  by  the
arbitral tribunal.


“2 – Definitions— (1) In this Part, unless the context otherwise
      requires,—

           (e)  "Court"  means  the  principal  Civil  Court  of   original
           jurisdiction in a district,  and  includes  the  High  Court  in
           exercise of its ordinary  original  civil  jurisdiction,  having
           jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the  subject-matter
           of the arbitration if the same had been the subject-matter of  a
           suit, but does not include any civil court of a  grade  inferior
           to such principal Civil Court, or any Court of Small Causes.”
whether a challenge  to
an arbitration  award  (or  arbitral  agreement,  or  arbitral  proceeding),
wherein jurisdiction lies with more than one  court,  can  be  permitted  to
proceed  simultaneously  in  two   different   courts.   =

To  remedy
such a situation Section 42 of the Arbitration Act mandates, that the  court wherein the first application arising out of  such  a  challenge  is  filed, shall alone have the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the  dispute(s),  which are filed later in point of time.  

since the  arbitral  tribunal  had  its
seat at Mumbai, and the works contract was executed at Mumbai, the  original
side  of  the  High  Court  of  Bombay  was  competent  to   entertain   the
controversy.  
On the other hand, the appellants before the  High  Court  had
pointed out, that 
since the works contract relating to the construction  and
maintenance of the Mumbra  byepass  on  the  Mumbai-Pune  road  (located  on
national highway no. 4), and the toll collection site were  situated  within
Thane District, the District Judge, Thane, was  the  “more  suitable”  court
for determining the controversies raised by the  rival  parties.   
Secondly,

All the same, it is imperative for  us  to  determine,  which  of  the
above two courts which have been approached by the rival parties, should  be
the one, to adjudicate upon the disputes  raised.   
For  an  answer  to  the
controversy in hand,  recourse  ought  to  be  made  first  of  all  to  the
provisions of the Arbitration Act.  
On  the  failure  to  reach  a  positive
conclusion, other principles of law, may have to  be  relied  upon.   
Having
given out thoughtful consideration to the issue  in  hand,  we  are  of  the
view, that the rightful answer can be determined  from  Section  2(1)(e)  of
the Arbitration Act, which defines the term “Court”.  
We shall endeavour  to
determine this issue, by examining how litigation is divided between a  High
Court exercising “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”, and the  “principal
civil court of original jurisdiction” in a district.  
What needs to be  kept
in mind is, that the High Court of Bombay is vested with “ordinary  original
civil jurisdiction” over the same area,  over  which  jurisdiction  is  also
exercised by the “principal Civil Court of original  jurisdiction”  for  the
District of Greater Mumbai  (i.e.  the  Principal  District  Judge,  Greater
Mumbai).  
Jurisdiction of the above two courts  on  the  “ordinary  original
civil side” is over the  area  of  Greater  Mumbai.   
The  aforesaid  choice  of  jurisdiction  has   been
expressed in Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration  Act,  without  any  fetters
whatsoever. 
 It is not the case of the appellants before  us,  that  because
of pecuniary dimensions, and/or any other consideration(s), jurisdiction  in
the two alternatives mentioned above, would lie with the Principal  District
Judge,  Greater  Mumbai.  
Under  the  scheme  of  the  provisions   of   the
Arbitration Act therefore, if the choice  is  between  the  High  Court  (in
exercise of its “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”)  on  the  one  hand,
and the “principal civil court of original  jurisdiction”  in  the  District
i.e. the District Judge on the other; 
Section  2(1)(e)  of  the  Arbitration
Act has made the  choice  in  favour  of  the  High  Court.   This  in  fact
impliedly discloses a legislative intent.  
To our mind therefore,  it  makes
no difference, if the “principal civil court of original  jurisdiction”,  is
in  the  same  district  over  which  the  High  Court  exercises   original
jurisdiction, or some other district. 
 In case an option is to be  exercised
between a High Court (under its “ordinary original civil  jurisdiction”)  on
the one hand, and a District Court (as “principal Civil  Court  of  original
jurisdiction”) on the other, the choice under the Arbitration Act has to  be
exercised in favour of the High Court.

26.   In the present controversy also, we must choose  the  jurisdiction  of
one of two courts i.e. either the “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”  of
the High Court  of  Bombay;  or  the  “principal  civil  court  of  original
jurisdiction” in District Thane i.e. the District Judge, Thane. 
 In view  of
the inferences drawn by us, based on the legislative intent emerging out  of
Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration Act, we are of the considered view,  that
legislative choice is  clearly  in  favour  of  the  High  Court.   
We  are,
therefore  of  the  view,  that  the  matters  in  hand  would  have  to  be
adjudicated upon by the High Court of Bombay alone.
In view of the conclusions drawn by us  above,  we  uphold  the  order
passed by the High Court requiring the matters  to  be  adjudicated  on  the
“ordinary original civil side” by the High Court  of  Bombay.   The  reasons
recorded by the High Court, for the above conclusion, were  different.   The
reasons for our consideration have already been notice above.   In  view  of
the above,  we  dispose  of  the  instant  appeal,  with  a  direction  that
Arbitration Petition No. 1158 of 2012 filed  by  the  Atlanta  Limited  (the
respondent herein) before the  High  Court  of  Judicature  at  Bombay,  and
Miscellaneous Application No. 229 of 2012 and Miscellaneous Application  No.
230 of 2012 filed by the appellants before the District Judge, Thane,  shall
be heard and disposed of by  the  High  Court  of  Bombay.   We  accordingly
hereby  direct  the  District  Judge,  Thane,  to  transfer  the  files   of
Miscellaneous Application No. 229 of 2012 and Miscellaneous Application  No.
230 of 2012 to the High Court, for disposal in accordance with law.

2014 ( January - Vol - 1) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name  =41151
                                                           
   “REPORTABLE”

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 673  OF 2014
                  (Arising out of SLP (C) No.18980 of 2013)


Executive Engineer, Road Development
Division No.III, Panvel & Anr.                                … Appellants

                                   Versus

Atlanta Limited                                          … Respondent


                               J U D G M E N T


Jagdish Singh Khehar, J.


1.    State of Maharashtra, through its Public Works Department,  awarded  a
contract  dated  12.7.2000  to  the  respondent-Atlanta  Limited  (a  public
limited company) for the construction of the Mumbra byepass.
On  11.5.2005,
a supplementary agreement for  additional  work  was  executed  between  the
parties.  
It would be relevant to mention, that the Mumbra byepass falls  on
National highway no. 4.  The construction envisaged in the contract  awarded
to the respondent-Atlanta Limited was, from kilometer 133/800  to  kilometer
138/200.
The contract under reference  envisaged,  settlement  of  disputes
between the parties,  through  arbitration.  
Atlanta  Limited  raised  some
disputes through a communication  dated  1.10.2009.  
It  also  invoked  the
arbitration clause for resolution  of  the  said  disputes.  
The  State  of
Maharashtra as also Atlanta Limited nominated their respective  arbitrators,
who in turn, appointed the presiding  arbitrator.   
On  the  culmination  of
proceedings  before  the  arbitral  tribunal,  an  award  was  rendered   on
12.5.2012.  Almost all the claims raised by Atlanta  Limited  were  granted.
In sum and substance, Atlanta Limited was awarded a sum of Rs.58,59,31,595/-
 along with the contracted rate of interest (of  20  per  cent  per  annum),
with effect from 1.10.2009.  Atlanta Limited  was  also  awarded  a  sum  of
Rs.41,00,000/- towards costs.  All the counter claims raised  by  the  State
of Maharashtra, before the arbitral tribunal, were simultaneously rejected.

2.    On 7.8.2012, the State of Maharashtra moved Miscellaneous  Application
no. 229 of 2012 and Miscellaneous Application no. 230 of 2012 under  Section
34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996  (hereinafter  referred  to
as the ‘Arbitration Act’) before the District Judge, Thane.  
The  State  of
Maharashtra  through  the  aforesaid   Miscellaneous   Applications   sought
quashing and setting aside of the arbitral award dated 12.5.2012.

3.    On the same day, i.e., 7.8.2012,  Atlanta  Limited  filed  Arbitration
Petition no.1158 of 2012 before the  High  Court  of  Judicature  at  Bombay
(hereinafter referred to as the ‘High Court’),  for  the  setting  aside  of
some of the directions issued by the arbitral tribunal (in its  award  dated
12.5.2012).   Atlanta  Limited  also  claimed  further  compensation,  which
according to the respondent, had  wrongfully  not  been  considered  by  the
arbitral tribunal.

4.    A perusal of the  averments  made  in  the  foregoing  two  paragraphs
reveal, that on the same day i.e., on 7.8.2012, the State of Maharashtra  as
also Atlanta Limited questioned the award of  the  arbitral  tribunal  dated
12.5.2012.
Whilst the State of Maharashtra questioned the same  before  the
District Judge, Thane; Atlanta Limited raised its challenge before the  High
Court.  
 Since  the  same  award  dated  12.5.2012  was  subject  matter  of
challenge  before  two   different   courts,   
Atlanta   Limited   preferred
Miscellaneous Civil Application no. 162 of 2012  under  Section  24  of  the
Code  of  Civil  Procedure,  1908  praying  for  transfer  of  Miscellaneous
Application no. 229 of 2012, as also, 
Miscellaneous  Application  No.230  of
2012  (both filed by the State of Maharashtra) before  the  District  Court,
Thane, to the original side of the High Court, for being  heard  along  with
Arbitration Petition No.1158 of 2012.  
The aforestated  Miscellaneous  Civil
Application No.162 of 2012 was allowed by the High Court on 15.3.2013.   
The
operative part of the order passed by the  High  Court  is  being  extracted
hereunder:

      “32.  In the light of the above conclusion,  the  argument  that  this
      Court can only direct consolidation of both Petitions  without passing
      any order with regard to their transfer, need  not  be  considered  in
      this case. 
Apart therefrom, once I find that the Respondents  have  no
      objection  to  consolidation  of  the  proceedings  so  as  to   avoid
      conflicting decisions or simultaneous  trial/hearing,  then,  all  the
      more, the powers to transfer needs to be exercised in this  case.   
It
      is undisputed that the parties are common to  both  matters.  In  both
      matters the same Award is under scrutiny. 
In such  circumstances,  the
      argument that both Petitions need to be consolidated  but  before  the
      District Court at Thane cannot be accepted. 
That would mean two Courts
      render decisions and more or less on the same issue and may be at  the
      same time. 
The arbitration petition filed by the Petitioners  in  this
      Court is already placed before the Single Judge of this Court  and  is
      now adjourned. 
It would  be  proper  if  the  proceedings  before  the
      District Court, Thane  are  brought  and  are  heard  along  with  the
      Petition filed by the Petitioners in this Court.


      33.  As a result of the above discussion, this  application  succeeds.
      It is made absolute in terms of prayer clause (a) with no order as  to
      costs.”



The above determination by the High Court, vide its order  dated  15.3.2013,
is the subject matter  of  challenge  through  Special  leave  Petition  (C)
No.18980 of 2013.

5.    Leave granted.

6.    The contention advanced at the hands of the learned  counsel  for  the
State of Maharashtra, while assailing the impugned order of the  High  Court
dated 15.3.2013 was, that
 it was improper for the  High  Court  to  transfer
the  proceedings  initiated   by   the   appellant   through   Miscellaneous
Application No.229 of 2012 and  Miscellaneous  Application  No.230  of  2012
under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act before the  Court  of  the  District
Judge, Thane to the High Court.
 In this behalf, the pointed  submission  of
the learned counsel for the appellant was, that  only  the  District  Judge,
Thane, had the jurisdiction to determine the  controversy  emerging  out  of
the award of the arbitral tribunal dated 12.5.2012.  
It was also  submitted,
that the  proceedings  initiated  by  Atlanta  Limited  through  Arbitration
Petition no. 1158 of 2012, ought to have  been  transferred  from  the  High
Court to the District Judge, Thane.
In order to  make  good  the  aforesaid
submission, learned  counsel  for  the  appellant  placed  reliance  on  the
definition  of  the  term  “Court”  expressed  in  Section  2(1)(e)  of  the
Arbitration  Act.  
Section  2(1)(e)  aforementioned  is  being   reproduced
hereunder :

      “2 – Definitions— (1) In this Part, unless the context otherwise
      requires,—

           (e)  "Court"  means  the  principal  Civil  Court  of   original
           jurisdiction in a district,  and  includes  the  High  Court  in
           exercise of its ordinary  original  civil  jurisdiction,  having
           jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the  subject-matter
           of the arbitration if the same had been the subject-matter of  a
           suit, but does not include any civil court of a  grade  inferior
           to such principal Civil Court, or any Court of Small Causes.”



Drawing the  court’s  pointed  attention  to  the  definition  of  the  term
“Court”, it was the vehement contention  of  the  learned  counsel  for  the
appellant, that to determine which court would have jurisdiction  to  decide
the subject matter of an arbitral dispute, it was essential to find out  the
particular court which would have had jurisdiction in the  matter,  had  the
dispute been agitated through a civil suit.
According to  learned  counsel,
the latter determination, would answer  the  jurisdictional  avenue  of  the
arbitral dispute, in terms of Section  2(1)(e)  extracted  above.  
In  this
behalf it was submitted, that  in  the  absence  of  any  express  exclusion
clause between the parties, on the subject matter under reference, in  order
to settle the dispute inter-parties, it would have been imperative  for  the
parties to raise  their  respective  challenges  only  before  the  District
Judge, Thane.

7.    For the above submission, learned  counsel  also  placed  reliance  on
Section 16 of the  Code  of  Civil  Procedure.  
Section  16,  according  to
learned counsel, would be relevant to determine  the  jurisdictional  court,
if the  dispute  had  been  agitated  through  a  civil  suit.  
Section  16
aforementioned is being extracted hereunder:

      “16. Suits to be instituted where subject-matter  situate.—Subject  to
      the pecuniary or other limitations prescribed by any law, suits,--

           (a)   for the recovery of immovable  property  with  or  without
               rent or profits,

           (b)   for the partition of immovable property,

           (c)   for foreclosure, sale or  redemption  in  the  case  of  a
               mortgage of or charge upon immovable property,

           (d)   for the determination of any other right to or interest in
               immovable property,

           (e)   for compensation for wrong to immovable property,

           (f)   for  the  recovery  of  movable  property  actually  under
               distraint or attachment,

      shall be instituted in the Court within  the  local  limits  of  whose
      jurisdiction the property is situate:

      Provided that a suit to obtain relief respecting, or compensation  for
      wrong to, immovable properly held by or on  behalf  of  the  defendant
      may, where the relief sought can be entirely  obtained  through  hi  s
      personal obedience, be instituted either in the Court within the local
      limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situate, or in the  Court
      within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the  defendant  actually
      and voluntarily resides, or carries on business, or  personally  works
      for gain.

      Explanation .--In this section "property" means  property  situate  in
      India.”



Relying on Section 16 extracted above, it was asserted by  learned  counsel,
that the original agreement between the parties  dated  12.7.2000,  and  the
supplementary agreement dated 11.5.2005, related to the construction of  the
Mumbra  byepass.   The  said  construction  is  from  Kilometer  133/800  to
Kilometer 138/200.
The aforesaid location  of  construction,  according  to
the undisputed position between the parties, is within Thane  District,  and
as such, within the  territorial  jurisdiction  of  the  Sessions  Division,
Thane.
Therefore, according to learned counsel for the appellant, only  the
“principal civil court of original jurisdiction”  in  District  Thane  i.e.,
the District Judge, Thane, would have jurisdiction in the  matter.  
It  was
also the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant, that the  toll
stations for collecting toll constructed by the respondent-Atlanta  Limited,
are also  located  at  the  venue  of  the  Mumbra  byepass.   Thus  viewed,
according to the learned counsel for the appellant, the collection  of  toll
(which inter alia constitutes the subject of dispute, between  the  parties)
is also carried on by the respondents within District  Thane,  i.e.,  within
the territorial  jurisdiction  of  the  District  Judge,  Thane.  
Based  on
Section 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and more particularly  of  clause
(d) thereof, it was the pointed submission of the learned  counsel  for  the
appellant, that only the District  Judge,  Thane  has  the  jurisdiction  to
entertain an arbitral dispute, arising between  the  rival  parties  to  the
present appeal.

8.    In order to further support his contention, that the  District  Judge,
Thane alone would have jurisdiction in the matter, learned counsel  for  the
appellant, also placed emphatic reliance on Section 20 of the Code of  Civil
Procedure which is being reproduced hereunder:

      “20.  Other suits to be instituted where defendants reside or cause of
      action arises.—Subject to the limitations aforesaid, every suit  shall
      be instituted in a Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction
      --

           (a)   the defendant, or each of the defendants where  there  are
               more than one, at the time of the commencement of the  suit,
               actually and voluntarily resides, or carries on business, or
               personally works for gain; or

           (b)   any of the defendants, where there are more than  one,  at
               the time of the  commencement  of  the  suit,  actually  and
               voluntarily resides, or carries on business,  or  personally
               works for gain, provided that in such case either the  leave
               of the Court is given, or the defendants who do not  reside,
               or carry or  business,  or  personally  work  for  gain,  as
               aforesaid, acquiesce in such institution ; or

           (c)   the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.

      Explanation .--A corporation shall be deemed to carry on  business  at
      its sole or principal office in India or, in respect of any  cause  of
      action arising at any place where it has also a subordinate office, at
      such place.

                                Illustrations

      (a)   A is a tradesman in Calcutta, B carries on business in Delhi.  B
      , by his agent in Calcutta, buys goods of A and requests A to  deliver
      them to  the  East  Indian  Railway  Company.  A  delivers  the  goods
      accordingly in Calcutta. A may sue B for the price of the goods either
      in Calcutta, where the cause of action has arisen or in Delhi, where B
      carries on business.

      (b)   A resides at Simla, B at Calcutta and C at Delhi,  A,  B  and  C
      being together at Benaras, B  and  C  make  a  joint  promissory  note
      payable on demand, and deliver it to A. A may sue B and C at  Benaras,
      where the cause of action arose. He may also  sue  them  at  Calcutta,
      where B resides, or at Delhi, where C resides; but in  each  of  these
      cases, if the non-resident defendant objects, the suit cannot  proceed
      without the leave of the Court.”



Relying on the above provision, it was asserted, that a reading  of  Section
20 of the Code  of  Civil  Procedure  shows,  that  a  preference  has  been
postulated for certain provisions including Section 16 of the Code of  Civil
Procedure, which was evident from the opening words of  Section  20  of  the
Code  of  Civil  Procedure,  which  clearly  denoted,  that  the  issue   of
jurisdiction expressed in Section 20 of the Code of Civil  Procedure,  would
be  subject  to  the  overriding  effect  in  the  matter  of  jurisdiction,
expressed in the provisions preceding Section  20  (i.e.  including  Section
16).

9.    Learned counsel for the respondent-Atlanta Limited, however,  strongly
opposed the submissions advanced at the hands of  the  learned  counsel  for
the appellant, on the  issue  of  jurisdiction.  
In  this  behalf,  learned
counsel for the respondent invited our  attention  to  the  reply  affidavit
filed on  behalf  of  the  State  of  Maharashtra,  to  Miscellaneous  Civil
Application No.162 of  2012  (filed  by  Atlanta  Limited  before  the  High
Court), para 8 of the reply affidavit which was  pointedly  brought  to  our
notice is being extracted hereunder :

      “8.   In fact it is an admitted position and common ground that  both;
      this Hon’ble Court and the District Court at Thane  have  jurisdiction
      in respect of the subject-matter in  issue.  Peculiarly  this  Hon’ble
      Court falls within the definition of the term  “Court”  under  Section
      2(e) of the Arbitration Act by virtue of being a  High  Court  in  the
      Mumbai District having Original Jurisdiction, and on  the  other  hand
      the District Court  at  Thane  being  the  Principal  Civil  Court  of
      original jurisdiction in the Thane District also falls within the same
      definition.”

                                                          (emphasis is ours)


In view of the stand adopted in  writing  by  the  appellants,  in  response
Miscellaneous Civil Application no.  162  of  2012,  it  was  sought  to  be
asserted,  that  the  appellants  had  no  right  to  raise  the  issue   of
jurisdiction before this Court.

10.   Despite the objection noticed in the  aforegoing  paragraphs,  it  was
the vehement contention of the learned counsel for the respondent, that  the
High Court and not the  District  Judge,  Thane,  had  the  jurisdiction  to
adjudicate the controversy raised by the rival  parties  with  reference  to
the award of the arbitral tribunal dated 12.5.2012.  In order to  make  good
the aforesaid submission, it was asserted, that  the  contractual  agreement
dated 12.7.2000, as also, the supplementary agreement dated 11.5.2005,  were
executed at Mumbai.  Additionally, it was submitted  that  the  parties  had
mutually agreed, that the seat  of  arbitration  in  case  of  any  disputes
arising between the parties, would be at Mumbai.
Relying on  the  aforesaid
undisputed factual position, learned counsel for the respondent invited  our
attention to the determination rendered by this Court  in  Bharat  Aluminium
Company & Ors. vs. Kaiser Aluminium Technical Services Inc & Ors.  (2012)  9
SCC 559, and made pointed reliance to the  following  observations  recorded
therein:

      “96.  xxx              xxx              xxx              xxx

      We are of the opinion, the term "subject matter  of  the  arbitration"
      cannot be confused  with  "subject  matter  of  the  suit".  The  term
      "subject matter" in Section 2(1)(e) is confined to Part I.  It  has  a
      reference and connection with the process of dispute  resolution.  Its
      purpose is to identify the courts having supervisory control over  the
      arbitration proceedings. Hence, it  refers  to  a  court  which  would
      essentially be a court of the seat of the arbitration process. In  our
      opinion, the provision in Section 2(1)(e) has to be construed  keeping
      in view the provisions in Section 20 which give recognition  to  party
      autonomy. Accepting  the  narrow  construction  as  projected  by  the
      Learned Counsel for the Appellants would, in fact, render  Section  20
      nugatory.  In  our  view,  the  legislature  has  intentionally  given
      jurisdiction  to  two  courts  i.e.  the  court   which   would   have
      jurisdiction where the cause of action is located and the courts where
      the arbitration takes place.
This was necessary as on  many  occasions
      the agreement may provide for a seat of arbitration at a  place  which
      would be neutral to both the parties.
Therefore, the courts where  the
      arbitration takes place would  be  required  to  exercise  supervisory
      control over the arbitral process.
For example, if the arbitration  is
      held in Delhi, where neither of the parties  are  from  Delhi,  
(Delhi
      having been chosen as a neutral place as between a party  from  Mumbai
      and the other from Kolkata) and the tribunal sitting in  Delhi  passes
      an interim order Under Section 17 of the Arbitration  Act,  1996,  the
      appeal against such an interim order under Section 37 must lie to  the
      Courts of Delhi being the Courts having supervisory jurisdiction  over
      the  arbitration  proceedings  and  the  tribunal.   
This   would   be
      irrespective of the fact that the obligations to  be  performed  under
      the contract were to be performed either at Mumbai or at Kolkata,  and
      only arbitration is to take place in  Delhi.  
In  such  circumstances,
      both the Courts would have jurisdiction, i.e., the Court within  whose
      jurisdiction the subject matter of the suit is situated and the courts
      within  the  jurisdiction  of  which  the  dispute  resolution,  i.e.,
      arbitration is located.

      97. The definition of Section 2(1)(e) includes "subject matter of  the
      arbitration" to give jurisdiction to the courts where the  arbitration
      takes place, which otherwise would  not  exist.
On  the  other  hand,
      Section 47 which is in Part II of the Arbitration  Act,  1996  dealing
      with enforcement of  certain  foreign  awards  has  defined  the  term
      "court" as a court having jurisdiction over the subject-matter of  the
      award. 
This has a clear reference to a court within whose jurisdiction
      the asset/person is located, against which/whom the enforcement of the
      international arbitral award is sought. 
The  provisions  contained  in
      Section 2(1)(e) being purely jurisdictional  in  nature  can  have  no
      relevance to the question whether Part I applies to arbitrations which
      take place outside India.

      98. We now come to Section 20, which is as under:

           “20. Place of arbitration—(1) The parties are free to  agree  on
           the place of arbitration.

           (2) Failing any agreement referred to in  Sub-section  (1),  the
           place  of  arbitration  shall  be  determined  by  the  arbitral
           tribunal  having  regard  to  the  circumstances  of  the  case,
           including the convenience of the parties.

           (3) Notwithstanding Sub-section  (1)  or  Sub-section  (2),  the
           arbitral tribunal may, unless otherwise agreed by  the  parties,
           meet at any place  it  considers  appropriate  for  consultation
           among  its  members,  for  hearing  witnesses,  experts  or  the
           parties,  or  for  inspection  of  documents,  good   or   other
           property."

      A plain reading of Section 20 leaves no room for doubt that where  the
      place of arbitration is in India, the parties are free to agree to any
      "place" or "seat" within India,  be  it  Delhi,  Mumbai  etc.  
In  the
      absence of the parties' agreement thereto,  Section  20(2)  authorizes
      the tribunal to determine the place/seat of such arbitration.  Section
      20(3) enables the  tribunal  to  meet  at  any  place  for  conducting
      hearings at a place of convenience in matters  such  as  consultations
      among its members for hearing witnesses, experts or the parties.”

                                                          (emphasis is ours)

11.   We have heard learned counsel for the parties.

12.   We have recorded hereinabove the foundation,  on  the  basis  whereof,
the present controversy was adjudicated before the High Court.   As  noticed
above, the challenge to the impugned order passed  by  the  High  Court,  is
based on the question of jurisdiction.
While the learned  counsel  for  the
appellants has placed reliance on Section 2(1)(e)  of  the  Arbitration  Act
read with the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure  to  contend,  that  the
District Judge, Thane, alone would have the jurisdiction in the matter;  the
contention raised on behalf of the respondent is, that the High Court  alone
in  exercise  of  its  “ordinary  original  civil  jurisdiction”,  has   the
jurisdiction to determine the controversy arising out of the impugned  award
dated 12.5.2012.

13.   In our view, it  is  not  open  to  the  appellants  to  advance  such
submission before this  Court.  
Firstly,  because  the  appellants  had  in
paragraph 8 of the reply affidavit filed  before  the  High  Court,  clearly
acknowledged the legal position, that  both  the  High  Court  as  also  the
District Judge, Thane, in so far as the present  controversy  is  concerned,
fall within the definition of the term “Court” under Section 2(1)(e) of  the
Arbitration Act.  And
secondly, because the impugned  order  passed  by  the
High Court expressly notices in paragraph 10, that it was  admitted  by  the
rival parties before the High Court, that the High  Court  on  the  original
side, as also the District Judge, Thane, had the jurisdiction in respect  of
the subject matter.
Relevant part of para 10 of the  impugned  judgment  of
the High Court is being extracted hereunder:-

           “10.  Mr. Vashi, learned counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of  the
           Petitioner submitted that in the  Affidavit-in-Reply  which  has
           been filed in this petition, it is admitted by  the  Respondents
           that the place of arbitration in terms of the arbitration clause
           in the contract was Mumbai.  It is also admitted that both, this
           Court on the Original Side and the District Court at Thane  have
           jurisdiction in respect of the subject matter in issue.”
                                                          (emphasis is ours)



It was therefore not open to the appellants to  canvass  before  this  Court
that the High Court of Bombay in exercise of its  “ordinary  original  civil
jurisdiction” could not adjudicate upon the present controversy, on  account
of lack of jurisdiction.
We shall therefore proceed in the first  instance,
on the premise that both the courts referred to above  had  jurisdiction  in
the matter.  
We shall independently record our reasons for the  same,  while
dealing with the submissions advanced before us.  We have chosen to  do  so,
because we are of the view, that an important jurisdictional issue has  been
raised, which needs  to  be  settled,  one  way  or  the  other.   We  shall
therefore, decide the controversy on merits, irrespective  of  the  position
expressed by the appellant, on the issue of jurisdiction.

14.   During the course of  hearing  before  us,  learned  counsel  for  the
appellant  had  highlighted  for  our   consideration,   the   factual/legal
controversy which was agitated by the rival parties before the  High  Court.
In this behalf it was further pointed out, firstly,  that  the  respondent’s
case before the High Court was, that
since the  arbitral  tribunal  had  its
seat at Mumbai, and the works contract was executed at Mumbai, the  original
side  of  the  High  Court  of  Bombay  was  competent  to   entertain   the
controversy.
On the other hand, the appellants before the  High  Court  had
pointed out, that
since the works contract relating to the construction  and
maintenance of the Mumbra  byepass  on  the  Mumbai-Pune  road  (located  on
national highway no. 4), and the toll collection site were  situated  within
Thane District, the District Judge, Thane, was  the  “more  suitable”  court
for determining the controversies raised by the  rival  parties.  
Secondly,
it was pointed out, that before the High Court an application under  Section
24 of the Code of Civil Procedure was filed in  the  matter  pending  before
the High Court, for transfer of proceedings filed by  the  respondents.  
It
was submitted, that through the above application, it was not  open  to  the
High Court to have transferred the proceedings pending before  the  District
Judge, Thane.
It was further pointed out, that before the  High  Court  the
appellants had orally submitted, that if the  High  Court  was  inclined  to
invoke its jurisdiction under Section 24 of the  Code  of  Civil  Procedure,
the proceedings filed by the respondent before the High  Court  should  have
been transferred to the  District  Judge,  Thane,  and  not  the  other  way
around.
According to the learned counsel, the instant submission  has  been
duly noticed in the impugned  judgment.  
Lastly,  it  was  contended,  that
Section 24 of the Code  of  Civil  Procedure  could  not  be  invoked  in  a
petition filed under Section 34  of  the  Arbitration  Act,  and  therefore,
Section 24 of the Code of Civil Procedure ought  not  to  have  been  relied
upon by the High Court for transferring the proceedings from  the  Court  of
District Judge, Thane, to the High Court of Bombay.

15.    The  following  submissions  were  advanced  before   us.  
Firstly,
considering clause (c) of the operative part  of  the  award,  according  to
learned counsel it was clear, that enforcement  of  such  a  clause  in  the
award was site-specific, since Mumbra byepass is located on the  Mumbai-Pune
road (on national highway no. 4) and falls in Thane District,  the  District
Judge, Thane, ought to be “natural choice” for consideration of  the  issues
advanced by the appellants, as also the respondent.
Secondly, according  to
the learned counsel for the appellants, the definition of the  term  “Court”
expressed in Section 2(1)(e) of the  Arbitration  Act  uses  the  expression
“subject matter” and not “cause of action”.  While “cause of action” can  be
referable  to  places  where  the  works  contract  is  executed,  or  where
arbitration proceedings were conducted; the term “subject  matter”  used  in
Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration Act is  only  referable  to  the  subject
matter of the works contract, with respect to which the  dispute  is  raised
(with respect  to  which,  there  was  a  direction  for  extension  of  the
concession period, under the award).
Accordingly  it  was  submitted,  that
although the High Court may  also  have  jurisdiction,  the  District  Court
Thane is “more natural”, “more suitable”  and  “more  appropriate”  for  the
adjudication of the claims, raised by the rival  parties.  
Thirdly  it  was
contended, that the original side of the High Court  of  Bombay,  vis-à-vis,
the District Judge, Thane, is a “superior” Court.  According to the  learned
counsel for the appellants, even if it is acknowledged  that  the  “ordinary
original civil side” of the High Court of  Bombay  as  also  the  “principal
Civil Court of original jurisdiction”  for  the  District  Thane  i.e.,  the
District Judge, Thane, both have jurisdiction  in  the  matter,  there  were
many attributes on the basis of which it could be clearly established,  that
the original side of the High Court of Bombay, is superior to the  Court  of
the District Judge, Thane.
In this behalf it was sought to be pointed  out,
that the High Court could take cognizance of contempt  of  its  own  orders,
and furthermore, a judgment delivered by the original side of a  High  Court
operated as a binding  precedent.
 It  was  submitted,  that  the  District
Court, Thane, does not have any such attributes.  In the above view  of  the
matter it was submitted, that reliance could be placed on Section 15 of  the
Code of Civil Procedure,  to  determine  which  of  the  two  courts  should
adjudicate upon the matter.
Section 15 is being extracted hereunder:-
      “15.  Court in which suits to be instituted-

           Every suit shall be instituted in the Court of the lowest  grade
           competent to try it.”



Based on  Section  15  extracted  above  it  was  submitted,  that  in  case
jurisdiction could be exercised by two Courts, it was imperative  to  choose
the Court of the lowest grade competent to try the  suit.   Accordingly,  it
was contended, that from amongst the original side  of  the  High  Court  of
Bombay and the District Court, Thane, in terms of the mandate of Section  15
of the Code of Civil Procedure, the District Court, Thane, being  the  Court
lower in grade than the original side of the High Court of Bombay, ought  to
have been chosen to adjudicate upon the matters.  It was also  pointed  out,
that  the  choice  of  District  Court,  Thane,  would  even  otherwise   be
beneficial  to  the  rival  parties  on  account  of  the  fact,  that   the
determination by the said Court, would be  open  for  re-examination  before
the High Court of Bombay, which exercises supervisory jurisdiction over  it.


16.   Additionally, it was contended, that the choice would fall  in  favour
of the District Judge, Thane, even on  account  of  the  likely  expeditious
disposal of the matter by the District Judge, Thane, in comparison with  the
“original side of the  High  Court  of  Bombay”.   In  this  behalf  it  was
submitted, that there were only 42 petitions filed under Section 34  of  the
Arbitration Act before the District Judge, Thane,  during  the  entire  year
2012, whereas, there were 1317 petitions filed under Section 34  before  the
High Court of Bombay, under  its  “ordinary  original  civil  jurisdiction”,
during the year 2012.    Referring to the  preceding  three  years,  namely,
2009, 2010 and 2011 it was submitted, whereas  a  very  few  petitions  were
filed under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act  before  the  District  Judge,
Thane, as many as, 1033, 1443 and 1081 petitions  respectively  (were  filed
under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act) were filed during the  three  years
before the High Court of Bombay.  Based on the  above  factual  position  it
was submitted, that it could be expected that  the  District  Judge,  Thane,
would dispose of the matters under reference within a short period of  about
five years, whereas it was likely that the  disposal  of  the  said  matters
will take  more  than  two  decades  if  the  matters  are  required  to  be
adjudicated by the original side of  the  High  Court  of  Bombay.   On  the
instant aspect of the matter  also,  referring  to  available  data  it  was
submitted, that it takes more than 20 years for  a  suit  to  be  heard  and
decided by the High Court of  Bombay  under  its  “ordinary  original  civil
jurisdiction”, whereas, it does not take more than 5 years for a suit  filed
before the District Judge, Thane, to be disposed  of.   Accordingly  it  was
contended, that keeping in view  the  burden  of  litigation,  the  “natural
choice” for adjudication of the matters under  reference  ought  to  be  the
District Judge, Thane, rather than the High Court of Bombay.

17.   Besides the  above  submissions,  no  other  contention  was  advanced
before us.

18.   We shall first endeavour to address the submissions  advanced  at  the
hands of the learned counsel for the appellants, with reference  to  Section
15 of the Code of Civil Procedure.  In terms of the mandate  of  Section  15
of the Code  of  Civil  Procedure,  the  initiation  of  action  within  the
jurisdiction of Greater Mumbai had to be  “in  the  Court  of  lowest  grade
competent to try it”.  We are, however, satisfied, that within the  area  of
jurisdiction of Principal District Judge,  Greater  Mumbai,  only  the  High
Court of Bombay was exclusively the competent  Court  (under  its  “ordinary
original civil jurisdiction”) to adjudicate  upon  the  matter.   The  above
conclusion is imperative from the definition of the term “Court” in  Section
2(1)(e) of the Arbitration Act.  Firstly, the very  inclusion  of  the  High
Court “in exercise of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction,  within  the
definition of the term “Court”, will be  rendered  nugatory,  if  the  above
conclusion was not to be accepted.  Because, the “principal Civil  Court  of
original jurisdiction in a district” namely the  District  Judge  concerned,
being a court lower in  grade  than  the  High  Court,  the  District  Judge
concerned would always exclude the High Court  from  adjudicating  upon  the
matter.  The submission advanced by the learned counsel  for  the  appellant
cannot therefore be accepted, also to ensure  the  inclusion  of  “the  High
Court in exercise of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction” is given  its
due meaning.  Accordingly, the principle enshrined  in  Section  15  of  the
Code of Civil  Procedure  cannot  be  invoked  whilst  interpreting  Section
2(1)(e)  of  the  Arbitration  Act.   Secondly,  the   provisions   of   the
Arbitration Act, leave no room for any doubt, that it is the  superior  most
court exercising original civil  jurisdiction,  which  had  been  chosen  to
adjudicate  disputes  arising  out  of  arbitration   agreements,   arbitral
proceedings and arbitral awards.  Undoubtedly, a “principal Civil  Court  of
original jurisdiction in a district”, is the superior most court  exercising
original civil jurisdiction in the  district  over  which  its  jurisdiction
extends.  It is clear, that Section 2(1)(e) of the  Arbitration  Act  having
vested jurisdiction in the “principal Civil Court of  original  jurisdiction
in  a  district”,  did  not  rest  the  choice  of  jurisdiction  on  courts
subordinate to that of the District Judge.  Likewise,  “the  High  Court  in
exercise of its ordinary original jurisdiction”, is the superior most  court
exercising original civil jurisdiction, within the  ambit  of  its  original
civil jurisdiction.  On the same analogy  and  for  the  same  reasons,  the
choice of jurisdiction, will clearly fall in the realm of  the  High  Court,
wherever a High Court  exercises  “ordinary  original  civil  jurisdiction”.
Under the Arbitration Act, therefore, the legislature has clearly  expressed
a legislative intent, different from the one expressed in Section 15 of  the
Code of Civil Procedure.
The respondent had chosen to initiate  proceedings
within the area of Greater Mumbai, it could have done  so  only  before  the
High Court of Bombay.  
There was no other court within the  jurisdiction  of
Greater Mumbai, where the respondent  could  have  raised  their  challenge.
Consequently, we have no hesitation in concluding, that  the  respondent  by
initiating proceedings under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act,  before  the
original side of the High Court of Bombay, had not violated the  mandate  of
Section  2(1)(e)  of  the  Arbitration  Act.   Thus  viewed,  we  find   the
submission advanced at the hands of the learned counsel for the  appellants,
by placing reliance on Section 15 of the Code  of  Civil  Procedure,  wholly
irrelevant.

19.   Reliance placed on Section 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure,  by  the
learned counsel for the appellants, for the ouster the jurisdiction  of  the
High Court of Bombay is equally misplaced.
All  that  needs  to  be  stated
while dealing  with  the  aforesaid  contention  is,  that  the  controversy
between the parties does not pertain to  recovery  of  immoveable  property,
partition  of  immoveable  property,  foreclosure  sale  or  redemption   of
immoveable  property,  determination  of  any  other  right  to   immoveable
property,  for  determination  of  compensation  for  wrong  to   immoveable
property and/or for the recovery of moveable  property  under  distraint  or
attachment.  
It is only in the aforesaid exigencies that Section 16  of  the
Code of Civil Procedure could have been invoked.  
The  construction  of  the
Mumbra byepass, would only entitle Atlanta Limited to payments  contemplated
under the contract dated 12.7.2007, and no more.  
 A  brief  description  of
the reliefs sought  by  the  rival  parties,  in  the  separate  proceedings
initiated by them, does  not  indicate  that  either  of  the  parties  were
claiming any right to or interest in any immovable property. 
 Since none  of
the above exigencies contemplated in  Section  16  prevail  in  the  dispute
between the rival parties, reliance on Section  16  of  the  Code  of  Civil
Procedure is clearly misplaced.


20.   Insofar as the jurisdiction within the District Thane,  is  concerned,
the “principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction” is  the  court  of  the
District Judge, Thane.  Consequently, within  the  territorial  jurisdiction
of District Thane, in terms of Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration  Act,  the
challenge could have only been raised before the “principal Civil  Court  of
original jurisdiction” of the district, namely, before the  District  Judge,
Thane.  There was no other court within the jurisdiction of District  Thane,
wherein the  instant  matters  could  have  been  agitated.  Therefore,  the
appellants having chosen to initiate the  proceedings  before  the  District
Judge, Thane, i.e.,  in  respect  of  a  cause  of  action  falling  in  the
territorial jurisdiction of the District Thane, they too must be  deemed  to
have chosen the rightful court i.e., the District Judge, Thane.

21.   Shorn of the aforesaid determination, our only  understanding  of  the
submission advanced at the hands of the learned counsel for  the  appellants
would be, that as a matter of “natural choice”, as  a  matter  of  “suitable
choice”,  as  also,  as  a  matter  of  “more   appropriate   choice”,   the
controversies  raised  by  the  rival  parties  ought  to  be   collectively
determined by the District Court, Thane,  and  not  by  the  High  Court  of
Bombay (in exercise of its  “ordinary  original  civil  jurisdiction”).  
 In
order to supplement  the  aforesaid  contention,  learned  counsel  for  the
appellant had depicted the quantum of filing  of  similar  petitions  before
the High Court, as also, before the  District  Court  Thane,  and  the  time
likely to be taken for the disposal of such  matters  by  the  Courts  under
reference.
There is no statutory provision to our  knowledge,  wherein  the
determination of jurisdiction, is based on  such  considerations.  
No  such
provision was brought to our notice by learned  counsel.  
The  question  of
jurisdiction, is a pure question of law, and needs to  be  adjudicated  only
on the  basis  of  statutory  provisions.  
In  view  of  the  deliberations
recorded hereinabove, it may not be wrong to observe, that  the  submissions
advanced at the behest of the learned counsel  for  the  appellants  on  the
issue of jurisdiction, are submissions without reference to  any  principles
known to law.  To the credit of the learned counsel for the  appellants,  it
may however be observed, that the  above  considerations  may  constitute  a
relevant basis for transfer of proceedings from  one  court  to  the  other.
Before the above considerations can be examined, there  would  be  one  pre-
condition, namely, that  the  above  considerations  could  be  applied  for
transfer of a case, where statutory provisions (express or implied)  do  not
provide for the exercise of a definite choice.  As a  matter  of  expressing
ourselves clearly, it may be stated, that inference  of  legislative  intent
from statutory provisions, would exclude from the  realm  of  consideration,
submissions of the nature  relied  upon  by  the  learned  counsel  for  the
appellant.


22.   The first issue which needs to be examined is,
whether a challenge  to
an arbitration  award  (or  arbitral  agreement,  or  arbitral  proceeding),
wherein jurisdiction lies with more than one  court,  can  be  permitted  to
proceed  simultaneously  in  two   different   courts.    
For   the   above
determination, it is necessary to make a reference  to  Section  42  of  the
Arbitration Act.  The aforesaid provision  accordingly  is  being  extracted
hereunder:

           “42.   Jurisdiction   -   Notwithstanding   anything   contained
           elsewhere in this Part or in any other law for the time being in
           force, where  with  respect  to  an  arbitration  agreement  any
           application under this Part has been made in a Court, that Court
           alone shall have jurisdiction over the arbitral proceedings  and
           all subsequent applications arising out of  that  agreement  and
           the arbitral proceedings shall be made in that Court and  in  no
           other Court.”



A perusal of Section 42 of Arbitration Act reveals  a  clear  acknowledgment
by the legislature, that the jurisdiction for raising  a  challenge  to  the
same arbitration agreement, arbitral proceeding  or  arbitral  award,  could
most definitely arise in more than  one  court  simultaneously.   To  remedy
such a situation Section 42 of the Arbitration Act mandates, that the  court wherein the first application arising out of  such  a  challenge  is  filed, shall alone have the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the  dispute(s),  which are filed later in point of time.
The above legislative  intent  must  also
be  understood  as  mandating,  that  disputes  arising  out  of  the   same
arbitration agreement, arbitral proceeding or arbitral award, would  not  be
adjudicated upon by more than one court, even though jurisdiction  to  raise
such disputes may legitimately lie before two or more courts.

23.   Ordinarily Section 42 of the Arbitration Act would  be  sufficient  to
resolve  such  a  controversy.    For  the  determination  of  the   present
controversy, however, reliance  cannot  be  placed  on  Section  42  of  the
Arbitration Act, because the State of Maharashtra  had  moved  Miscellaneous
Civil Application No. 229 and Miscellaneous  Civil  Application  No  230  of
2012 under Section 34 of the Arbitration  Act  before  the  District  Judge,
Thane, on the same day as Atlanta Limited  had  filed  Arbitration  Petition
No. 1158 of  2012  before  the  High  Court.
 In  this  behalf  it  may  be
mentioned, that both the parties  had  approached  the  courts  referred  to
hereinabove  on  7.8.2012.   
The  answer  to  the  jurisdictional  question,
arising out in the facts and circumstances of this case, will therefore  not
emerge from Section 42 of  the  Arbitration  Act.     
All  the  same  it  is
imperative for us to give effect to the legislative  intent  recorded  under
Section 42 aforementioned, namely,  that  all  disputes  arising  out  of  a
common arbitration agreement, arbitral proceeding or arbitral  award,  would
lie only before one court.

24.   The very fact that the appellants before this Court,  have  chosen  to
initiate proceedings against the  arbitral  award  before  “principal  Civil
Court of original jurisdiction in a  district”  i.e.,  before  the  District
Judge, Thane, and the respondent before this Court, has raised  a  challenge
to the same arbitral award before the “ordinary original civil side” of  the
High Court of Bombay, clearly demonstrates, that  the  underlying  principle
contained in Section 42 of the Arbitration Act would stand breached, if  two
different courts would adjudicate upon disputes  arising  out  of  the  same
arbitral award.  
There can be no doubt, that adjudication of  a  controversy
by different courts, can easily  give  rise  to  different  conclusions  and
determinations.   
Therefore,  logic  and  common  sense  also  require,  the
determination of all such matters, by one jurisdictional  court  alone.   
In
the present case, the complication in the matter has  arisen  only  because,
the proceedings initiated by  the  appellants  before  the  District  Judge,
Thane,  and  proceedings  initiated  by  the  respondent  on  the  “ordinary
original civil side” of the High Court of Bombay, were  filed  on  the  same
day (i.e. on 7.8.2012).  
Therefore,  Section  42  of  the  Arbitration  Act, cannot be of any assistance in the matter in hand.

25.   All the same, it is imperative for  us  to  determine,  which  of  the
above two courts which have been approached by the rival parties, should  be
the one, to adjudicate upon the disputes  raised.   
For  an  answer  to  the
controversy in hand,  recourse  ought  to  be  made  first  of  all  to  the
provisions of the Arbitration Act.  
On  the  failure  to  reach  a  positive
conclusion, other principles of law, may have to  be  relied  upon.   
Having
given out thoughtful consideration to the issue  in  hand,  we  are  of  the
view, that the rightful answer can be determined  from  Section  2(1)(e)  of
the Arbitration Act, which defines the term “Court”.  
We shall endeavour  to
determine this issue, by examining how litigation is divided between a  High
Court exercising “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”, and the  “principal
civil court of original jurisdiction” in a district.  
What needs to be  kept
in mind is, that the High Court of Bombay is vested with “ordinary  original
civil jurisdiction” over the same area,  over  which  jurisdiction  is  also
exercised by the “principal Civil Court of original  jurisdiction”  for  the
District of Greater Mumbai  (i.e.  the  Principal  District  Judge,  Greater
Mumbai).  
Jurisdiction of the above two courts  on  the  “ordinary  original
civil side” is over the  area  of  Greater  Mumbai.   
Whilst  examining  the
submissions advanced by the learned counsel for the appellant under  Section
15 of the Code of Civil Procedure, we have already concluded,  that  in  the
above situation, jurisdiction will vest with the High  Court  and  not  with
the  District  Judge.  
The  aforesaid  choice  of  jurisdiction  has   been
expressed in Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration  Act,  without  any  fetters
whatsoever.  It is not the case of the appellants before  us,  that  because
of pecuniary dimensions, and/or any other consideration(s), jurisdiction  in
the two alternatives mentioned above, would lie with the Principal  District
Judge,  Greater  Mumbai.  
Under  the  scheme  of  the  provisions   of   the
Arbitration Act therefore, if the choice  is  between  the  High  Court  (in
exercise of its “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”)  on  the  one  hand,
and the “principal civil court of original  jurisdiction”  in  the  District
i.e. the District Judge on the other; Section  2(1)(e)  of  the  Arbitration
Act has made the  choice  in  favour  of  the  High  Court.   This  in  fact
impliedly discloses a legislative intent.  
To our mind therefore,  it  makes
no difference, if the “principal civil court of original  jurisdiction”,  is
in  the  same  district  over  which  the  High  Court  exercises   original
jurisdiction, or some other district. 
 In case an option is to be  exercised
between a High Court (under its “ordinary original civil  jurisdiction”)  on
the one hand, and a District Court (as “principal Civil  Court  of  original
jurisdiction”) on the other, the choice under the Arbitration Act has to  be
exercised in favour of the High Court.

26.   In the present controversy also, we must choose  the  jurisdiction  of
one of two courts i.e. either the “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”  of
the High Court  of  Bombay;  or  the  “principal  civil  court  of  original
jurisdiction” in District Thane i.e. the District Judge, Thane. 
 In view  of
the inferences drawn by us, based on the legislative intent emerging out  of
Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration Act, we are of the considered view,  that
legislative choice is  clearly  in  favour  of  the  High  Court.   
We  are,
therefore  of  the  view,  that  the  matters  in  hand  would  have  to  be
adjudicated upon by the High Court of Bombay alone.

27.   In view of the conclusions drawn by us  above,  we  uphold  the  order
passed by the High Court requiring the matters  to  be  adjudicated  on  the
“ordinary original civil side” by the High Court  of  Bombay.   
The  reasons
recorded by the High Court, for the above conclusion, were  different.   The
reasons for our consideration have already been notice above.   
In  view  of
the above,  we  dispose  of  the  instant  appeal,  with  a  direction  that
Arbitration Petition No. 1158 of 2012 filed  by  the  Atlanta  Limited  (the
respondent herein) before the  High  Court  of  Judicature  at  Bombay,  and
Miscellaneous Application No. 229 of 2012 and Miscellaneous Application  No.
230 of 2012 filed by the appellants before the District Judge, Thane,  shall
be heard and disposed of by  the  High  Court  of  Bombay.   We  accordingly
hereby  direct  the  District  Judge,  Thane,  to  transfer  the  files   of
Miscellaneous Application No. 229 of 2012 and Miscellaneous Application  No.
230 of 2012 to the High Court, for disposal in accordance with law.

                                                           …..…………………………….J.
                                              (A.K. Patnaik)


                                                           …..…………………………….J.
                                                      (Jagdish Singh Khehar)


New Delhi;
January 16, 2014.

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