HC dismisses plea of ERA seeking review of order in contractor’s favour

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, Apr 23: High Court dismissed the plea of a J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency seeking review of award passed in favour of a contractor for the work allotted to it, with a finding that allowing the plea filed at belated stage would receive a liberal construction in favour of Agency being an agency of Government.
“The application in hand seemingly is filed with the impression that in seeking condo-nation of delay, the expression ‘sufficient cause’ would receive as liberal construction in favor of the applicant being an agency of the Government”, Justice Javed Iqbal recorded.
Court further added that without any doubt that the explanation offered by the applicant-Agency in the application in hand cannot by any sense of imagination be said to be sufficient, plausible, and cogent. The explanation, court said, per se is cryptic and casual.
“Even the affidavit accompanying the application in support thereof is a stereotyped one. Viewed in the context of what has been observed, considered and analyzed, the application in hand is found to be without any merit and is, accordingly, dismissed, as a consequence whereof the accompanying review petition shall also stand dismissed”, Court concluded.
The contractor M/S Kamal Builders had been allotted work for improvement and up-gradation of Jehangir Chowk Karan Nagar – SKIMS Road, which work as stated by the Agency was suspended by the contractor without any valid reason, resulting into termination of the contract vide notice dated 13.5.2011, which consequently gave rise to disputes between the parties.
The disputes have been referred to arbitration in terms of Arbitration Clause whereupon the arbitrators have passed an award dated 30.8.2014 in favour of the contractor. It is being stated that after obtaining copy of the award, the petitioner-Agency intended to challenge the same under the statute and consequently under section 34 of the J&K Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1997 same was thrown challenge on the ground that the same had a patent error on the face of the record inasmuch as it had directed the Agency to immediately release the bank guarantee to the contractor within a period of four months from the date of the issuance of the award and in case of failure an interest of 6% thereof was allowed till the bank guarantee is actually released.
JK ERA stated that the award in question had sought to be set aside on the basis of Section 31(5) inasmuch as the failure of the arbitrators to provide a signed copy of the award to the applicant-contractor.
A perusal of the record in general and the instant application in particular, the court said, would reveal that the applicant-ERA has offered no plausible explanation warranting condonation of delay. “Nothing is stated in the application as to how much time was lost in making the departmental communications and in obtaining certified copy of the order under review so much so that no material worth the name is placed on record in support of the said contentions”, reads the order.