Curative Jurisdiction in Arbitral Awards – A Case Analysis


The realm of arbitration often intersects with judicial intervention, particularly in the context of challenging arbitral awards. The recent decision by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of ‘Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. Vs. Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd.’ provides significant insights into the scope of judicial review, especially under the curative jurisdiction, concerning arbitral awards. This article elucidates the key aspects of this decision and its implications.


In the case titled ‘Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. Vs. Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd., the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) initiated arbitration proceedings following unsuccessful conciliation with Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd. (DAMEPL). Subsequently, a three-member Tribunal passed an arbitral award unanimously favouring DAMEPL. The DMRC challenged this award under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 before the Delhi High Court, which led to an appeal under Section 37 before a Division Bench of the High Court. The Division Bench partly allowed the appeal. DAMEPL then filed a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution, which the Supreme Court allowed, restoring the arbitral award. Subsequent review petitions were dismissed, leading to the filing of curative petitions.


The decision of the Supreme Court:

I. Scope of interference of Courts with Arbitral Awards:

The Supreme Court, referencing Associate Builders Vs. Delhi Development Authority and Ssangyong Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd. Vs. NHAI, emphasized that courts can intervene with arbitral awards if they are found to be perverse, irrational, or in breach of arbitration statutes. The grounds for setting aside an award include decisions based on no evidence, irrelevant material, or a lack of reasons. Moreover, a breach of natural justice principles or a decision outside the arbitrator’s jurisdiction constitutes patent illegality.

II. Scope of interference of Supreme Court with Arbitral Awards:

The Court clarified that while Section 37 provides an appellate remedy against decisions under Section 34, Article 136 allows discretionary jurisdiction to review such decisions. However, this discretion is exercised sparingly, with the Court primarily assessing whether the lower courts correctly applied legal tests in assessing the Arbitral Award’s validity.

III. Invoking Curative Jurisdiction in an Arbitral Award:

Referring to Rupa Ashok Hurra Vs. Ashok Hurra & Anr., the Court established that curative petitions are entertained to prevent abuse of process or rectify gross miscarriages of justice. While not exhaustively enumerated, grounds for curative petitions include violations of natural justice and apprehensions of bias. Procedural requirements, including certification by a Senior Advocate, are essential for entertaining curative petitions. However, the Court cautioned against the routine use of curative jurisdiction to avoid excessive court intervention.

IV. Decision in the present case:

The Supreme Court allowed the curative petitions, restoring the parties to their pre-judgment positions and discontinuing execution proceedings. It found that the Division Bench’s judgment, based on Section 34’s test, adequately showed the arbitral award’s perversity and patent illegality. The Court, therefore, declined to intervene under Article 136, citing a grave miscarriage of justice caused by restoring an illegal award.


The DMRC Vs. DAMEPL case underscores the delicate balance between judicial oversight and autonomy in arbitration. It reaffirms the principle that while courts have a supervisory role, they must exercise restraint, particularly under curative jurisdiction, to maintain the integrity of the arbitration process. This decision provides valuable guidance for future cases involving challenges to arbitral awards, emphasizing the importance of upholding fairness and justice within the framework of arbitration law.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The content may not reflect the most current legal developments and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Readers should consult a qualified legal professional before taking any action based on the information provided. The authors and publishers disclaim any liability for any loss or damage incurred as a result of reliance on this article. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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