MANU/SC/0613/2001

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Appeal (civil) 6997 of 2001

Decided On: 05.10.2001

Appellants: Union of India (UOI)
vs.
Respondent: Popular Construction Co.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
G.B. Pattanaik and Ruma Pal JUDGMENT

Ruma Pal, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The question which arises for determination in this case is whether the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 are applicable to an application challenging an award, under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (referred to hereafter as the '1996 Act').

3. The award in this case was made by the Arbitrator on 29th August, 1998. Under the impression that the Arbitration act, 1940 applied, the Arbitrator forwarded the original Award to the appellant with a request to file the Award in the High Court of Bombay so that a decree could be passed in terms of the Award under the provisions of the Arbitrator Act, 1940. The Award was accordingly field by the appellant in the Bombay High court on 29th March, 1999. The appellant filed an application challenging the Award on 19th April, 1999 under Section 30 read with Section 16 of the Arbitration Act, 1940. Subsequently, the application was amended by inserting the words "Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996" in place of "Arbitration Act, 1940". The application was dismissed by the learned Single Judge on 26th October, 1999 on the ground that it was barred by limitation under Section 34 of the 1996 Act. The Division Bench rejected the appeal and upheld the findings of the learned Single Judge.

4. Before us, the appellant has not disputed the position that if the Limitation Act, 1963 and in particular Section 5, did not apply to Section 34 of the 1996 Act, then its objection to the award was time barred and the appeal would have to be dismissed The submission however is that Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act makes the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act applicable to special laws like the 1996 Act since the 1996 Act itself did not expressly excludes its applicability and that there was sufficient cause for the delay in filing the application under Section 34. Counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, has submitted that the language of Section 34 plainly read, expressly excluded the operation of Section 5 of the Limitation Act and that there was as such no scope for assessing the sufficiency of the cause for the delay beyond the period prescribed in the proviso to Section 34.

5. The issue will have to be resoled with reference to the language used in Sections 29(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963 and Section 34 of the 1996 Act. Section 29(2) provides that:

"Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed by the Schedule, the