Suresh Shah vs Hipad Technology India Private … on 18 December, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Suresh Shah vs Hipad Technology India Private … on 18 December, 2020

Author: A.S. Bopanna

Bench: Hon’Ble The Justice, A.S. Bopanna, V. Ramasubramanian

                                                                                   1



                                                                     REPORTABLE

                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                       CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                              ARBITRATION PETITION (CIVIL) NO(S). 08/2020


                         Suresh Shah                               .… Petitioner(s)

                                                 Versus


                         Hipad Technology India Private Limited    …. Respondent(s)


                                              JUDGMENT

A.S. Bopanna, J.

1. The petitioner has instituted this petition under

Section 11(5) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

(‘Act, 1996’ for short) seeking appointment of a Sole

Arbitrator for resolving the disputes that have arisen

between the parties in relation to the Sub­Lease deed dated

14.11.2018.

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by

2. The property bearing No.154­B, Block ‘A’ Sector 63,
Madhu Bala
Date: 2020.12.18
14:25:35 IST
Reason:

Phase­III, NOIDA, Gautam Budh Nagar, U.P. having been
2

initially allotted and leased by New Okhla Industrial

Development Authority (‘NOIDA’ for short) under a Lease

dated 26.03.2003 had changed hands and the lease was

ultimately transferred in favour of the petitioner under a

Transfer Memorandum dated 13.04.2011.

3. The petitioner thus having acquired absolute long­term

leasehold right of the land and building referred supra has

Sub­Leased the same to the respondent under the Sub­

Lease Deed dated 14.11.2018. In respect of the Sub­Lease

entered into between the parties, certain disputes are stated

to have arisen which is to be resolved. Since the Sub­Lease

Deed provides for resolution of the disputes through

arbitration vide Clause 12 thereof the petitioner invoked the

same by issuing a notice dated 11.12.2019, nominated the

Sole Arbitrator and sought concurrence from the

respondent. The respondent did not respond to the same.

The petitioner is, therefore, before this Court seeking

appointment of the Arbitrator.

4. Notice of this petition was ordered to the respondent

on 02.03.2020. Despite service, the respondent has not

chosen to appear and oppose this petition. In that light we
3

have heard Mr. Vikas Dhawan, learned counsel for the

petitioner and perused the petition papers.

5. The parties to the petition have entered into a Sub­

Lease Deed dated 14.11.2018 whereunder the terms of lease

have been agreed to between the parties. In respect of the

terms and conditions agreed under the Sub­Lease Deed

certain disputes have arisen between the parties. In the

Deed the parties have agreed that the disputes arising out of

the same shall be resolved through Arbitration. The clause

thereto reads as hereunder:

“12.1 All disputes, differences or
disagreements arising out of, in connection
with or in relation to this Sub­Lease Deed,
including w.r.t. its interpretation,
performance, termination, in the first instance
shall be endeavored to be settled through
good faith mutual discussions between the
officials of the Sub­Lessor and the Sub­
Lessee.

12.2 If no settlement can be reached through
such discussions between the Parties within a
period of 21 (twenty one)days, then all such
unresolved disputes, differences or
disagreements shall be finally decided
through arbitration, to be held in accordance
with the provisions of the Arbitration &
Conciliation Act, 1996. The venue of
arbitration shall be New Delhi and the
language of such arbitration shall be English.
4

12.3 The Arbitral Tribunal shall consist of a
sole arbitrator to be mutually agreed by the
Parties. In the event of any disagreement
regarding the appointment of the sole
arbitrator, the same shall only and exclusively
be appointed by the Hon’ble High Court of
Delhi at New Delhi. The arbitral award shall
be final and binding.”

6. The petitioner, therefore, got issued a Notice dated

11.12.2019 detailing the default committed by the

respondent which gave rise to the dispute between the

parties and also invoked the Arbitration Clause. The

petitioner proposed the name of Justice (Retired) Mukul

Mudgal as the Sole Arbitrator and indicated that if the

respondent does not agree to the same the petitioner would

seek appointment of Sole Arbitrator through Court. It is in

that view the petitioner is before this Court.

7. At the outset, a perusal of the above extracted Clause

indicates that the disputes between the parties is to be

resolved through Arbitration. A further perusal of the

Clause indicates that the parties have agreed to secure

appointment of the Arbitrator through the High Court of

Delhi at New Delhi. It is in that view an indication to the

same effect is made in the notice dated 11.12.2019. Though
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that be the position the description of the petitioner in the

Sub­Lease Deed as well as in the cause title to this petition

and also the averments in the petition indicate that the

petitioner is a citizen of Kenya and habitually is a resident

of Nairobi, Kenya. Thus, the petitioner being an individual

who is a national of Kenya and is habitually a resident of

that country; having entered into a contract and since

disputes have arisen under the said document, the same

qualifies as an ‘International Commercial Arbitration’ as

defined in Section 2(f) of Act, 1996. In such circumstance,

Supreme Court is to appoint an Arbitrator as provided

under Section 11(6) of the Act, 1996 and not by the High

Court as stated in the contract entered into between the

parties.

8. However, before considering the appointment of

Arbitrator the first part of Clause 12 providing for

arbitration needs elaboration to consider the arbitrability of

the dispute relating to lease/tenancy agreements/deeds

when such lease is governed by Transfer of Property Act,

1882 (‘TP Act’ for short) and iron out the creases on the

legal aspect. The learned counsel for the petitioner asserts
6

that the tenancy in the instant case is not created under;

nor is the leased/tenanted property governed by a special

statute where the tenant enjoys statutory protection and as

such there is no impediment for resolving the dispute

through arbitration. On that aspect the position explained

by the Supreme Court in the case of Booz Allen and

Hamilton Inc vs. SBI Home Finance Limited and Others

(2011) 5 SCC 532 leaves no doubt. In order to put the

matter in perspective it would be profitable to extract para

35 and 36 which reads as hereunder:

“35. The Arbitral Tribunals are private fora
chosen voluntarily by the parties to the
dispute, to adjudicate their disputes in place
of courts and tribunals which are public fora
constituted under the laws of the country.
Every civil or commercial dispute, either
contractual or non­contractual, which can be
decided by a court, is in principle capable of
being adjudicated and resolved by arbitration
unless the jurisdiction of the Arbitral
Tribunals is excluded either expressly or by
necessary implication. Adjudication of
certain categories of proceedings are reserved
by the legislature exclusively for public fora
as a matter of public policy. Certain other
categories of cases, though not expressly
reserved for adjudication by public fora
(courts and tribunals), may by necessary
implication stand excluded from the purview
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of private fora. Consequently, where the
cause/dispute is inarbitrable, the court
where a suit is pending, will refuse to refer
the parties to arbitration, under Section 8 of
the Act, even if the parties might have agreed
upon arbitration as the forum for settlement
of such disputes.

36. The well­recognised examples of non­
arbitrable disputes are: (i) disputes relating
to rights and liabilities which give rise to or
arise out of criminal offences; (ii) matrimonial
disputes relating to divorce, judicial
separation, restitution of conjugal rights,
child custody; (iii) guardianship matters; (iv)
insolvency and winding­up matters; (v)
testamentary matters (grant of probate,
letters of administration and succession
certificate); and (vi) eviction or tenancy
matters governed by special statutes where
the tenant enjoys statutory protection
against eviction and only the specified courts
are conferred jurisdiction to grant eviction or
decide the disputes.”

9. Notwithstanding the same, there is a deflection from

the settled position due to certain observations contained in

the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Himangni

Enterprises vs. Kamaljeet Singh Ahluwalia (2017) 10

SCC 706. In the facts therein the landlord had filed a civil

suit against the tenant for eviction. In the said suit the

tenant filed an application under Section 8 of Act, 1996

seeking reference to arbitration since the parties were
8

governed by an arbitration agreement. The Civil Court had

dismissed the application and that order was upheld by the

High Court. The Supreme Court while deciding the same,

though relied on the decision in the case of Natraj Studios

(P) Ltd. vs. Navrang Studios (1981) 1 SCC 523 wherein the

issue arose in respect of premises governed under the

Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging Houses Rates Control

Act, 1947 (Special Statute) and the case of Booz Allen

(supra) wherein it was clearly indicated that non

arbitrability is in respect of tenancy governed by special

statutes, still upheld the order rejecting the application

under Section 8 of Act, 1996 seeking reference to

arbitration.

10. The observations contained in para 23 and 24 of

Himangni Enterprises (supra) has brought within its sweep

the non­arbitrability of disputes relating to the

lease/tenancy governed under TP Act. The said

observations read as hereunder:

“23. The learned counsel for the appellant,
however, argued that the provisions of the
Delhi Rent Act, 1995 are not applicable to
the premises by virtue of Section 3(1)(c) of
9

the Act and hence, the law laid down in the
aforementioned two cases [Natraj Studios (P)
Ltd. v. Navrang Studios
, (1981) 1 SCC
523] , [Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc. v. SBI
Home Finance Ltd
., (2011) 5 SCC 532 :
(2011) 2 SCC (Civ) 781] would not apply. We
do not agree.

24. The Delhi Rent Act, which deals with the
cases relating to rent and eviction of the
premises, is a special Act. Though it contains
a provision (Section 3) by virtue of it, the
provisions of the Act do not apply to certain
premises but that does not mean that the
Arbitration Act, ipso facto, would be
applicable to such premises conferring
jurisdiction on the arbitrator to decide the
eviction/rent disputes. In such a situation,
the rights of the parties and the demised
premises would be governed by the Transfer
of Property Act
and the civil suit would be
triable by the civil court and not by the
arbitrator. In other words, though by virtue
of Section 3 of the Act, the provisions of the
Act are not applicable to certain premises
but no sooner the exemption is withdrawn or
ceased to have its application to a particular
premise, the Act becomes applicable to such
premises. In this view of the matter, it
cannot be contended that the provisions of
the Arbitration Act would, therefore, apply to
such premises.”

11. The said observations are made by a Bench of two

Hon’ble Judges without detailed reference to the scope of

the provisions or the manner of right and protection
10

available to lessees/tenants under TP Act so as to exclude

arbitration. In that light, another Bench of two Hon’ble

Judges speaking through R.F. Nariman J., in the case of

Vidya Drolia & Ors. vs. Durga Trading Corporation

(2019) SCC online SC 358 noticed that Natraj Studios

(supra) had dealt with tenancy under Rent Act and Booz

Allen (supra) had made reference to special statutes and

had not stated with respect to non­arbitrability of cases

arising under TP Act. In that regard having noted the

provision contained in Section 111, 114 and 114A of TP Act

had in para 16 concluded as follows:

“16. In fact, a close reading of Section 114
would show that the rights of landlord and
tenant are balanced by the aforesaid
provision. This is because where a lease of
immoveable property has determined by
forfeiture for non­payment of rent, and at the
hearing of the suit, the lessee pays or
tenders to the lessor the rent in
arrears, together with interest thereon and
his full costs within 15 days, the Court in its
discretion may relieve the lessee against the
forfeiture. This shows two things ­ one that
the landlord’s interest is secured not only by
the deposit of rent in arrears but also
interest thereon and full costs of the suit.
The option given, of course, is that security
may also be given but what is important is
that the Court is given a discretion in
making a decree for ejectment if this is done.

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The discretion may be exercised in favour of
the tenant or it may not. This itself shows
that Section 114 cannot be said to be a
provision conceived for relief of tenants as a
class as a matter of public policy. The same
goes for Section 114A. Here again, a lessee is
given one opportunity to remedy breach of an
express condition, provided such condition is
capable of remedy. However, the exception
contained in this section shows that it is a
very limited right that is given to a tenant, as
this would not apply to assigning, sub­
letting, parting with the possession, or
disposing of the property leased, or even to
an express condition relating to forfeiture in
case of non­payment of rent. Thus, it is clear
that every one of the grounds stated in
Section 111, whether read with Section 114
and/or 114A, are grounds which can be
raised before an arbitrator to decide as to
whether a lease has or has not determined.”

12. Further, with specific reference to the consideration in

the case of Natraj Studios (supra) and Booz Allen (supra) it

was observed in para 24 of Vidya Drolia (supra) as follows:

“24. A perusal of both the aforesaid
judgments, therefore, shows that a Transfer
of Property Act
situation between a landlord
and tenant is very far removed from the
situation in either Natraj Studios (supra) or
in sub­paragraph (vi) of paragraph 36
of Booz Allen (supra). We are, therefore, of
the respectful view that the question involved
in a Transfer of Property Act situation cannot
possibly be said to have been answered by
the two decisions of this Court, as has been
stated in paragraph 18 of the said
judgment.”
12

13. In the reference made to a larger bench in the case of

Vidya Drolia (supra) several aspects arose for consideration

which has been adverted to therein. However, the only

issue for our consideration is as to whether in the instant

case the dispute arising under the lease being governed

under the TP Act is arbitrable.

14. To arrive at our conclusion, we have taken note of the

provisions contained in Section 111, 114 and 114A of the TP

Act which read as hereunder:

“111. Determination of lease.— A lease of
immovable property, determines—

(a) by efflux of the time limited thereby;

(b) where such time is limited conditionally
on the happening of some event—by the
happening of such event;

(c) where the interest of the lessor in the
property terminates on, or his power to
dispose of the same extends only to, the
happening of any event—by the happening of
such event;

(d) in case the interests of the lessee and the
lessor in the whole of the property become
vested at the same time in one person in the
same right;

(e) by express surrender; that is to say, in
case the lessee yields up his interest under
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the lease to the lessor, by mutual agreement
between them;

(f) by implied surrender;

(g) by forfeiture, that is to say, (1) in case the
lessee breaks an express condition which
provides that on breach thereof the lessor
may re­enter; or (2) in case the lessee
renounces his character as such by setting
up a title in a third person or by claiming
title in himself; or (3) the lessee is
adjudicated an insolvent and the lease
provides that the lessor may re­enter on the
happening of such event; and in any of these
cases the lessor or his transferee gives notice
in writing to the lessee of his intention to
determine the lease;

(h) on the expiration of a notice to determine
the lease, or to quit, or of intention to quit,
the property leased, duly given by one party
to the other.”

“114. Relief against forfeiture for non­
payment of rent.— Where a lease of
immovable property has been determined by
forfeiture for non­payment of rent, and the
lessor sues to eject the lessee, if, at the
hearing of the suit, the lessee pays or
tenders to the lessor the rent in arrear,
together with interest thereon and his full
costs of the suit, or gives such security as
the Court thinks sufficient for making such
payment within fifteen days, the Court may,
in lieu of making a decree for ejectment, pass
an order relieving the lessee against the
forfeiture; and thereupon the lessee shall
hold the property leased as if the forfeiture
had not occurred.

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114A. Relief against forfeiture in certain
other cases.—Where a lease of immovable
property has been determined by forfeiture
for a breach of an express condition which
provides that on breach thereof the lessor
may re­enter, no suit for ejectment shall lie
unless and until the lessor has served on the
lessee a notice in writing—

(a) specifying the particular breach
complained of; and

(b) if the breach is capable of remedy,
requiring the lessee to remedy the breach;
and the lessee fails, within a reasonable time
from the date of the service of the notice, to
remedy the breach, if it is capable of remedy.
Nothing in this section shall apply to an
express condition against assigning, under­
letting, parting with the possession, or
disposing, of the property leased, or to an
express condition relating to forfeiture in
case of non­payment of rent.”

15. A perusal of the provisions indicate the manner in

which the determination of lease would occur, which also

includes determination by forfeiture due to the acts of the

lessee/tenant in breaking the express condition agreed

between the parties or provided in law. The breach and the

consequent forfeiture could also be with respect to non­

payment of rent. In such circumstance where the lease is

determined by forfeiture and the lessor sues to eject the
15

lessee and, if, at the hearing of the suit, the lessee pays or

tenders to the lessor the rent in arrear, Section 114 of TP

Act provides that the Court instead of passing a decree for

ejectment may pass an order relieving the lessee against the

forfeiture due to which the lessee will be entitled to hold the

property leased as if the forfeiture had not occurred. Under

Section 114A of the TP Act a condition for issue of notice

prior to filing suit of ejectment is provided so as to enable

the lessee to remedy the breach. No doubt the said

provisions provide certain protection to the lessee/tenant

before being ejected from the leased property. In our

considered view, the same cannot be construed as a

statutory protection nor as a hard and fast rule in all cases

to waive the forfeiture. It is a provision enabling exercise of

equitable jurisdiction in appropriate cases as a matter of

discretion. This position has been adverted to by the

Supreme Court in one of its earliest decision in the case of

Namdeo Lokman Lodhi vs. Narmadabai & Others (AIR

1953 SC 228) as under:

“….. The argument of Mr. Daphtary that there
was no real discretion in the court and relief
could not be refused except in cases where
16

third party interests intervene is completely
negatived by the decision of the House of
Lords in Hyman v. Rose.”

“…..With great respect we think that the
observations cited above contain sound
principles of law. We are, therefore, unable to
accede to the contention of Mr. Daphtary that
though section 114 of the Transfer of Property
Act confers a discretion on the court, that
discretion except in cases where third party
interests intervene must always be exercised
in favour of the tenant irrespective of the
conduct of the tenant.”

16. Such equitable protection does not mean that the

disputes relating to those aspects between the landlord and

the tenant is not arbitrable and that only a Court is

empowered to waive the forfeiture or not in the

circumstance stated in the provision. In our view, when the

disputes arise between the landlord and tenant with regard

to determination of lease under the TP Act, the landlord to

secure possession of the leased property in a normal

circumstance is required to institute a suit in the Court

which has jurisdiction. However, if the parties in the

contract of lease or in such other manner have agreed upon

the alternate mode of dispute resolution through arbitration

the landlord would be entitled to invoke the arbitration
17

clause and make a claim before the learned Arbitrator. Even

in such proceedings, if the circumstances as contained in

Section 114 and 114A of TP Act arise, it could be brought

up before the learned Arbitrator who would take note of the

same and act in accordance with the law qua passing the

award. In other words, if in the arbitration proceedings the

landlord has sought for an award of ejectment on the

ground that the lease has been forfeited since the tenant

has failed to pay the rent and breached the express

condition for payment of rent or such other breach and in

such proceedings the tenant pays or tenders the rent to the

lessor or remedies such other breach, it would be open for

the Arbitrator to take note of Section 114, 114A of TP Act

and pass appropriate award in the nature as a Court would

have considered that aspect while exercising the discretion.

17. On the other hand, the disputes arising under the

Rent Acts will have to be looked at from a different view

point and therefore not arbitrable in those cases. This is for

the reason that notwithstanding the terms and conditions

entered into between the landlord and tenant to regulate the

tenancy, if the eviction or tenancy is governed by a special
18

statute, namely, the Rent Act the premises being amenable

to the provisions of the Act would also provide statutory

protection against eviction and the courts specified in the

Act alone will be conferred jurisdiction to order eviction or to

resolve such other disputes. In such proceedings under

special statutes the issue to be considered by the

jurisdictional court is not merely the terms and conditions

entered into between the landlord and tenant but also other

aspects such as the bonafide requirement, comparative

hardship etc. even if the case for eviction is made out. In

such circumstance, the Court having jurisdiction alone can

advert into all these aspects as a statutory requirement and,

therefore, such cases are not arbitrable. As indicated above,

the same is not the position in matters relating to the

lease/tenancy which are not governed under the special

statutes but under the TP Act.

18. In the backdrop of the above discussion, we are of the

considered view that insofar as eviction or tenancy relating

to matters governed by special statutes where the tenant

enjoys statutory protection against eviction whereunder the

Court/Forum is specified and conferred jurisdiction under
19

the statute alone can adjudicate such matters. Hence in

such cases the dispute is non­arbitrable. If the special

statutes do not apply to the premises/property and the

lease/tenancy created thereunder as on the date when the

cause of action arises to seek for eviction or such other relief

and in such transaction if the parties are governed by an

Arbitration Clause; the dispute between the parties is

arbitrable and there shall be no impediment whatsoever to

invoke the Arbitration Clause. This view is fortified by the

opinion expressed by the Co­ordinate Bench while

answering the reference made in the case of Vidya Drolia

wherein the view taken in Himangni Enterprises is

overruled.

19. As noted above, the petitioner in the instant case while

invoking the Arbitration Clause has proposed the name of

Justice (Retired) Mukul Mudgal as the Sole Arbitrator. The

respondent neither replied to the said notice nor objected to

the Arbitrator proposed by the petitioner. In that backdrop

since a dispute between the parties is to be resolved through

Arbitration, the prayer made in this petition is liable to be

accepted.

20

20. In the result, the petition is allowed. Shri Justice

(Retired) Mukul Mudgal, former Chief Justice of Punjab and

Haryana High Court is appointed as the Sole Arbitrator to

resolve the dispute between the parties. The arbitral fee

shall be payable as provided under the Fourth Schedule to

Act, 1996. There shall be no order as to costs in this

petition.

..…………………………..CJI.

(S. A. Bobde)

…..…………………………..J.

(A. S. Bopanna)

..…..………………………….J
(V. Ramasubramanian)

December 18, 2020
New Delhi



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