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Rs 4,600-crore arbitral award: SC asks HC to hear DAMPEL plea against DMRC ‘without further delay’

There should be no further delay in deciding the case as it is detrimental to the interests of both the companies, the SC said.

The high court had scheduled the case for hearing on March 29.
The high court had scheduled the case for hearing on March 29.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Delhi High Court to hear “without further delay” a petition by Delhi Airport Metro Express (DAMEPL) seeking execution of the Rs 4,600-crore arbitral award it won against the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

A bench led by Justice LN Rao asked lawyers for both the companies to appear before the HC on January 31 and request it to hear the dispute at the earliest. There should be no further delay in deciding the case as it is detrimental to the interests of both the companies, the SC said.

The high court had scheduled the case for hearing on March 29.

“The HC recorded the finding that there were efforts to settle the dispute relating to the manner of payments with the banks and financial institutions, which did not yield any results. Without commenting on submissions made on either side, we are of the opinion that hearing on execution application does not brook any further delay. The parties are directed to appear before the HC on January 31 and request it to take up the matter at the earliest. We request the HC to dispose of the execution application without any further delay as consequences of pendency of this application is to the detriment of the petitioner and respondent,” the SC said.

Senior counsel Parag Tripathi, on behalf of DMRC, submitted that it was ready to take over DAMEPL’s liabilities to the extent of the award money as it would be in a better position to negotiate with the lender banks. He said a sudden liability, if paid, would impact public interest and the result would be that the entire Metro operations could come to a halt not only in Delhi but in five other cities. “I am not running away. I have deposited Rs 1,000 crore after the order. I am not a fly-by-night operator. All I am saying is permit me to negotiate and let them give us the details of the total dues,” Tripathi said.

However, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for DAMEPL, rejected the offer, saying, “I will deal with my creditors myself”. He said let DMRC pay Rs 6,000 crore in cash and DAMEPL will negotiate with its lenders to get a better deal to settle its Rs 20,000-crore liabilities.

The judges also came down heavily on DMRC for not paying the arbitral award money when the SC had on September 9 upheld the Rs 4,600-crore arbitration award in favour of the Anil Ambani group firm.

Following the apex court order, DAMEPL had moved the HC seeking execution of the arbitration award it had won in May 2017. However, both sides have differed on how much additional interest has accrued on the amount. While DMRC says the liability now stands around Rs 5,000 crore, the RInfra arm says it is close to Rs 7,000 crore and increasing each passing day.

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