A Single Judge bench of the Delhi High Court held that jurisdiction to execute foreign arbitration award continues with the High Court, despite the change in pecuniary jurisdiction as per 2015 amendment to Delhi High Court Act. In the case of Precious Sapphire Ltd v. Amira Pure Foods Pvt Ltd, the question that arose was the applicability of the amendments of 2015 to the Arbitration Act and the Delhi High Courts Act relating to pecuniary jurisdiction.
The primary contention of the petitioners executing the award was that as per the 2015 amendment to the Arbitration Act, the execution of the foreign award should be carried out in the High Court due to retrospective application of the amended Section 47 of the Arbitration Act. The Petitioner relied on the judgments of the Supreme Court in Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Pvt. and others 2018 SCC OnLine SC 232, Securities and Exchange Board of India v. Classic Credit Limited 2017 SCC OnLine SC 961 and of the Gujarat High Court in M/s OCI Corporation v. Kandla Export Corporation and Ors. 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 5981 thereby supporting its contention of the retrospective applicability of the 2015 amendment to pending cases in lieu of the Arbitration Act being procedural in nature.
The Respondents contended that after the 2015 amendment to Delhi High Court Act, the pecuniary value of the present matter came within the limits of Subordinate Court and thus the High Court lacked the pecuniary jurisdiction to try the present case. The Respondents submitted that the 2015 amendment to the Arbitration Act not only changed the forum but changed the scope of appeal as well. Thus the amendment, being substantive in nature, could only be applied prospectively thereby rendering the non0applicability of Section 47 to the present petition. The Respondents relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Fuerst Day Lawson Ltd. v. Jindal Exports Ltd., (2001) 6 SCC 356 and Videocon International Ltd. v. Securities and Exchange Board of India (2015) 4SCC 33 in support of its arguments and thus argued to transfer the present case to the Subordinate Courts.
Justice Navin Chawla, while accepting the contentions and arguments of the petitioner on the retrospective application of the 2015 amendment to the Arbitration Act, observed:
“It is first to be noted that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is a special statute vis-à-vis the Delhi High Court Act, which would be a general statute dealing with the jurisdiction and procedure of the High Court. It is well established principle of law that a special provision made on a certain matter would exclude the general provision in its application, with the provision of the special Act prevailing over the provision of a general Act. This principle is expressed in the maxims Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant and Specialia Generalibus Derogant. Reference can be drawn to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Jogendra Lal Saha v.State of Bihar and others, AIR 1991 SC 1148 and P.V Hemalatha v. Kattamkandi Puthiya Maliackal Saheeda and others, AIR 2002 SC 2445.”
The Delhi High Court further relied on the explanations provided in the 246th Report of the Law Commission which explained the reasoning to the intention of the legislature in substituting the explanation to Section 47 of the Arbitration Act which had direct reference to the present case. Therefore, the objections of the respondent were rejected and the case was placed for further adjudication.
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