Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Section 34:
There were a dispute between NHPC Ltd. and a foreign contractor, clause 67.3(vi) would have to be read as a clause designating the “seat” of arbitration, the same must follow even when sub-clause (vi) is to be read with sub-clause (i) of Clause 67.3, where the dispute between NHPC Ltd. would be with an Indian Contractor.
The arbitration clause in the present case states that “Arbitration Proceedings shall be held at New Delhi/Faridabad, India…”, thereby signifying that all the hearings, including the making of the award, are to take place at one of the stated places. Negatively speaking, the clause does not state that the venue is so that some, or all, of the hearings take place at the venue; neither does it use language such as “the Tribunal may meet”, or “may hear witnesses, experts or parties”. The expression “shall be held” also indicates that the so-called “venue” is really the “seat” of the arbitral proceedings. The dispute is to be settled in accordance with the Arbitration Act, 1996 which, therefore, applies a national body of rules to the arbitration that is to be held either at New Delhi or Faridabad, given the fact that the present arbitration would be Indian and not international. It is clear, therefore, that even in such a scenario, New Delhi/Faridabad, India has been designated as the “seat” of the arbitration proceedings.