MANU/MH/3067/2017

True Court CopyTM

IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY

Commercial Arbitration Petition No. 262 of 2017

Decided On: 30.11.2017

Appellants: Ramesh D. Shah and Ors.
Vs.
Respondent: Tushar D. Thakkar and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
R.D. Dhanuka

JUDGMENT

R.D. Dhanuka, J.

1. By this petition filed under section 14(2) and section 32 (2) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 (for short "the Arbitration Act"), the petitioners have prayed for condonation of delay, if any, in filing this petition and pray that the Procedural Order Sheet No. 3 dated 7th February, 2016 and Procedural Order Sheet No. 4 dated 16th March, 2016 passed by the learned arbitrator thereby terminating the arbitral proceedings and refusing to take statement of claim on record by condoning the delay in filing the statement of claim and for recalling of the order terminating the arbitral proceedings be set aside. The petitioners have also prayed for an order and direction against the learned arbitrator to accept the statement of claim annexed as Exhibit - R along with annexures filed by the petitioners with the learned arbitrator on 24th February, 2016. Some of the relevant facts for the purpose of deciding this petition are as under :

2. The petitioners were the original claimants in the arbitral proceedings, whereas the respondents herein were the original respondents.

3. It is the case of the petitioners that the petitioners and the respondents became the shareholders of a company known as "ETCO Denim Private Limited" and were holding the shares in the said company. The parties entered into a Shareholders Agreement dated 12th December, 2012. It is the case of the petitioners that the respondents had committed defaults of its obligations under the said Shareholders Agreement, as a result of which the said company faced serious financial difficulties. Dispute arose between the parties. The petitioners vide their letter dated 9th January, 2014 called upon the respondents to fulfill their obligations under the said Shareholders Agreement. The respondents vide their letter dated 18th April, 2014 refused to comply with their obligations under the said Shareholders Agreement. Various correspondence were exchanged between the parties. The petitioners thereafter addressed the letters on 15th May, 2014 and 4th July, 2014 to the respondents invoking arbitration agreement as contemplated under clause 9.3 of the Shareholders Agreement and requested the respondents to refer the disputes to arbitration. The respondents however, refused to refer the disputes to arbitration. The petitioners therefore, filed an application under section 11(6) of the Arbitration Act in the year 2014. By an order dated 15th July, 2015, passed by this Court, Shri Justice P.V. Hardas, a former Judge of this Court came to be appointed as a sole arbitrator.

4. Pursuant to the said order passed by this Court, the learned arbitrator entered upon the reference. Learned arbitrator held the first meeting on 15th October, 2015 and issued various directions, including the direction to the petitioners to file their statement of claim on or before 7th January, 2016 and directed the respondents to file their written statement and counter claim, if any, along with the documents, if any, to be relied upon by them on or before 31st March, 2016. The petitioners were granted time to file reply to the written statement and counter claim on or before 28th April, 2016 and directed the respondents to file rejoinder, if any on or before 26th May, 2016. Learned arbitrator directed both the parties to make a written demand on each other for taking inspection of their respective documents within one week of 26th May, 2016 and to file their statements regarding admission/denial on or before 25th June, 2016. The next meeting was directed to be held on 25th June, 2016 for framing issues and for settling the issues.

5. On 14th December, 2015, Mr. Sudhir Motani on behalf of the petitioners addressed an email to the erstw........