WHILE DISMISSING a revision petition filed by it against an order passed by the lower court, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on Reliance Infrastructure Limited in the matter pertaining to the arbitration proceedings of a pending dispute related to the Rajiv Gandhi Thermal Power Plant’s engineering, procurement and construction contract.
Justice Anil Kshetarpal in the order dated July 16, while taking note of the observations made by a coordinate bench in a connected matter, said it is apparent that Reliance has been trying to delay the disposal of the arbitration proceedings since 2016.
On an application moved by the Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited (HPGCL), the Special Commercial Court, Gurgaon in April had extended the time for passing the award by the arbitrator for a period of six months. The order was challenged by Reliance before the court. The order was stayed by the High Court on May 13.
In the order passed on Friday, the single bench also said that the period for which stay operated would stand excluded from the period of six months. Senior Advocate Naresh Markanda and Advocate Sonia Madan for the HPGCL earlier had argued that Reliance has adopted various means to stall the arbitration proceedings.
The dispute between the parties in the power project arose in 2016 and Reliance asked the HPGCL to appoint an arbitrator in the matter in accordance with the conditions of the contract. Former chief secretary Promila Issar was appointed as the arbitrator with her appointment also approved by the state government and later by the Governor. However, Reliance Infrastructure Limited challenged the appointment and the matter has since then continued to remain pending before different legal forums.
In an order passed on June 3, the High Court dismissed the petition filed by Reliance against the appointment of a former state chief secretary as arbitrator for resolution of its issues with Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited.
Justice Alka Sarin in the order passed last month also noted that it “cannot shut its eyes to the fact that the matter before the Sole Arbitrator is pending since 2016 and the arbitral proceedings have been delayed by the petitioner. The petitioner has made efforts to thwart the arbitral proceedings despite having unconditionally withdrawn it’s Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court, despite specifically having requested the Sole Arbitrator to proceed with the matter and despite withdrawing its application for recall before the Supreme Court”.
The thermal power plant is located at Khedar, Hisar, and the contract between the parties was signed in 2007. Both the units of the power plant were made operational later.
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