Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. Vs. Northern Coal Field Ltd. Order dated 27 November 2019 in Special Leave Petition (C) No. 11476 of 2018
Relying on the doctrine of kompetenz – kompetenz enshrined in Section 16 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 and the legislative intent to restrict judicial intervention at pre-reference stage, the Supreme Court held that the issue of limitation would be decided by an arbitrator.
It also reaffirmed that the legislative intent of the Arbitration Act is party autonomy and minimal judicial interference in the arbitration process. It observed that the regime of the Arbitration Act outlines that once an arbitrator has been appointed, all objections and issues are to be decided by the arbitrator.
The Supreme Court observed that the issue of limitation is a jurisdictional issue which should be decided by the arbitrator in terms of Section 16 of the Arbitration Act and not before the High Court at the pre-reference stage under Section 11 of the Arbitration Act. The Supreme Court observed that once the arbitration agreement is not in dispute, all issue including jurisdictional issues are to be decided by the arbitrator.