UNION OF INDIA Vs. BAKHSHI RAM
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.) This is an appeal by the Union of India against an order of the Subordinate Judge 1st Class, Delhi filing the award of the umpire and passing a decree for Rs. 54,000/- on the basis of the umpire's award.
(2.) By an agreement dated the 24th June, 1950, Dharampal Chawla, hereinafter called the contractor, agreed to supply 17.430 cubic feet of teak planks to the Union of India. The price fixed ranged from Rs. 6/- Rs. 7/- per cubic foot depending on the sizes of the planks. The delivery was to commence from July, 1950 and was to be completed by the 30th of November, 1950, in equal monthly instalments. The agreement was subject to the terms given in the printed form WSB 133 which contained clause 17 to the effect that the goods were to be tendered to the Inspector and were to be delivered only on his approval. WSB 133 is a pamphlet issued by the Union of India which contains general terms of the agreement between the contractor and the Union of India. In these general conditions there is an arbitration clause 21 according to which all disputes arising out of the contract were to be submitted to arbitration excepting any matter the decision of which was provided for by the general conditions. Time under the contract for delivery was extended from the 30th of November, 1950 to the 30th of December, 1950, and then to the 15th of March, 1951. Admittedly, the contractor made no supplies towards the contract till the 15th of March, 1951. The contractor purported to rescind the contract on the 25th of April, 1951, and the Government did likewise on the 30th of April, 1951. Thus disputes arose between the parties and, in accordance with the arbitration agreement, were referred to the arbitration of Shri Shiv Charan Singh and Shri Sat Pal in early 1952. The arbitrators disagreed on the 30th of April, 1953, and the case was referred to Shri Parkash Narain, Advocate, who had been previously appointed to act as an umpire. The arbitrators fixed the umpire's fee at Rs. 1,000/- payable in equal shares by the parties. The umpire entered on the reference in the 8th of June, 1953, and after recording some additional evidence gave his award on the 9th of February 1954, by which he held the Government liable to pay Rs. 54,000/- plus costs Rs. 500/- to the contractor. About a week later on the 15th February, 1954, the contractor transferred his rights under this award to Shri Kanshi Ram, Advocate. The contractor and the transferee then filed an application under sections 14, 17 and 31 of the Indian Arbitration Act to get the award produced by the umpire and to get it made a rule of the court. The umpire filed the award on the 31st of March, 1954. The trial court has made the award rule of the court and the present appeal is directed against this order.
(3.) It was urged on behalf of the Union of India that inter alia the award in question is vitiated by the fact that the umpire was biased against the Government as in spite of his repeated reminders the Government did not pay his fee before the award was made and it was then urged that because of this bias the umpire has decided the case against the Government. The umpire is an Advocate of this court. It is true that before giving the award he wrote four letters from the 8th of June, 1953 to the 21st of January, 1954 calling upon the Government to pay his fees, after the award also he wrote three letters till the 16th of March, 1954, for this purpose. The umpire produced the award in court on the 31st of March, 1954, and then requested the court to direct the Government to pay his fee and it was after that the umpire sent a notice under section 80, Civil Procedure Code, to the Government on the 2nd of April, 1954. I have carefully gone through the letters. They are businesslike, polite but firm. The Government replied to these letters asking him to proceed with the case and promised that the fee would be paid in due course. At no stage were the bona fides of the umpire questioned by the Government in this correspondence or at any stage of the proceedings before him. There is nothing on the record to show that the contractor had paid his portion of the fees to the umpire. It may be that the contractor himself had also not paid the fee till after the award. In any case, the umpire has not been called into the witness box and questioned on this point. I see nothing objectionable in his endeavours to realise his fees from the Government and his efforts for that purpose do not even suggest that he was biased against the Government. The plea set up on behalf of the Government appears to me to be frivolous and wholly unjustified, and I am surprised that it has been at all set up in this case on this flimsy material. I have, therefore, no hesitation in rejecting this contention of the learned counsel.;
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