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Refusal to condone delay in filing appeal under section 34 of Arbitration Act appealable: SC

The Supreme Court has held that an order refusing to condone the delay in filing an appeal under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 is appealable under Section 37 of the Act. In Chintels India Ltd v Bhayana Builders Pvt Ltd, the Supreme Court heard an appeal arising out of a Delhi High Court judgment which had held that such an appeal was not maintainable. The Apex Court stated that the expression "setting aside or refusing to set aside an arbitral award "does not stand by itself, but has to be read with the expression that follows-"under section 34".' A literal reading of the provision would show that a refusal to set aside an arbitral award as delay has not been condoned under sub-section (3) of section 34 would certainly fall within section 37(1)(c).

The Supreme Court also found that this reasoning was supported by the fact that under section 37(2)(a), an appeal lies when a plea referred to in sub-section (2) or (3)of section 16 is accepted, which demonstrates that the Legislature referred to the part of a section, as opposed to the entire section, when it intended so. It held that it is not the province or duty of the Court to further limit such right by excluding appeals which are in fact provided for in the provision. Thus, an appeal under section 37(1)(c)of the Arbitration Act, 1996 would be maintainable against an order refusing to condone delay in filing an application under section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1996 to set aside an award.

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