A single judge bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Bombay referred a question of law- ‘Whether a court can grant ad-interim relief in all those cases wherein the Arbitration Agreement is insufficiently stamped or is unstamped to a larger bench.

In the matter wherein, a petition under section 9 of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 for grant of certain protective reliefs were prayed pending final disposal of arbitration proceedings.

The issue regarding the arbitration agreement being insufficiently stamped was raised and contested by both the parties when a section 11 petition was filed by Gautam Landscapes. Post which the Collector of Stamps via an order dated 15th March 2018 held that the document is insufficiently stamped and consequently an amount of Rs. 1.12 Crore is pending. This order stood appealed under section 34B of the Maharashtra Stamp Act.

Hon’ble court took into consideration the following precedents- Universals Enterprises v. Deluxe Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., SMS Tea Estates (P) Ltd. v. Chandmari Tea Co. (P) Ltd., Lakdawada Developers Pvt. Ltd. v. Badal Mittal and Ors. The Court was of the view that the precedent set in Universals Enterprises v. Deluxe Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., was arrived after considering the difference between the nature of section 9 and section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1966 but the court did not take into consideration the judgement given by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of SBP and Co. v. Patel Engineering Ltd. anr.

Hence, Hon’ble Justice Kathawalla referred this question of law to a larger bench.

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