For the purpose of setting aside an Arbitral Award, an application under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“The Act”) is a handy tool for the judgment debtor to challenge the validity of the award passed on grounds enumerated under the said provision. What needs to be understood is that the question of limitation period shall also apply to such applications. But when does this period of limitation actually commence for the application to succeed?

The Supreme Court in the matter of Anilkumar Jinabhai Patel (D) v Pravinchandra Jinabhai Patel has observed that the limitation period for making an application to set aside the award shall commence from the period when the party making such application receives the signed copy of the final award. The Hon’ble Justice R. Banumathi was hearing the set of appeals challenging the judgment passed by the Bombay High Court Bench at Aurangabad dated 27/03/2012. The Hon’ble Judge relied on the judgment passed in State of Maharashtra and Ors v Ark Builders Pvt Ltd which explicitly stated that a signed copy of the arbitral award has to be delivered to each party to the Arbitration proceedings. It was emphatically stated that “By a cumulative reading of Section34(3) and Section 31(5) of the Act, it is clear that the limitation period prescribed under Section 34(3) of the Act would commence only from the date of signed copy of the award delivered to the party making the application for setting it aside.”

Accordingly the Apex Court, after relying upon a plethora of precedents pertaining to the limitation period for Section 34 applications, opined that the Appellants could not take the stand that they were unaware of the Arbitral award dated 07/07/1996 as the Mr. Anilkumar Patel, the Appellant, had received and acknowledged the award on behalf of the other appellants, being the head of the family and this contention fails miserably. Accordingly the appeal was dismissed without any costs.

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Judgment- Anilkumar Jinabhai Patel Vs Pravinchandra Jinabhai Patel and Others