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Judgment passed in review by HC after dismissal of SLP, cannot generally be assailed in SLP afresh: Supreme Court

The SC on May 22, 2020 {PATEL ENGINEERING LTD. vs NORTH EASTERN ELECTRIC POWER CORPORATION LTD.} held that consistency is the cornerstone of the administration of justice and courts have evolved and formulated a principle that if the basic judgment is not assailed and the challenge is only to the order passed in review, the Supreme Court is obliged not to entertain such special leave petitions. 

It was held by the SC Bench, comprising of Justice R. Banumathi, Justice Indu Malhotra  &  Justice Aniruddha Bose, that the Amendment Act, 2015 would apply to Section 34 petitions that are made after 23.10.2015 (the day on which the Amendment Act came into force). It was held that in the present case, admittedly, after the arbitral awards dated 29.03.2016, the applications under Section 34 of the Act were filed before the Judicial Commissioner, Shillong, therefore, the provisions of the Amendment Act would apply. 

It was also held that insofar as domestic awards are concerned, the additional ground of patent illegality was now available under sub-section (2A) to Section 34. It was held, however, re-appreciation of evidence was not permitted under the ground of “patent illegality” appearing on the face of the award.

The present case arises out of a domestic award between two Indian entities. It was held that the ground of patent illegality is a ground available under the statute for setting aside a domestic award, if the decision of the arbitrator is found to be perverse, or, so irrational that no reasonable person would have arrived at the same; or, the construction of the contract is such that no fair or reasonable person would take; or, that the view of the arbitrator is not even a possible view.

The SC concluded that it is now not open to re-open the matter by filing a review petition on the same grounds, which have been rightly dismissed by the High Court. It was held that the Petitioner has failed to make out any error on the face of the judgment dated 26.02.2019. It was held that the High Court by the impugned order dated 10.10.2019 rightly dismissed the review petitions and the SC does not find any ground warranting interference with the impugned order. In the result, all the special leave petitions were dismissed by the SC.

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