no “international commercial arbitration” = Once it is held that both the companies are incorporated in India, and, thus, they have been domiciled in India, the arbitration agreement entered into by and between them would not be an international commercial arbitration agreement and, thus, the question of applicability of sub-clause (iii) of Section 2(1)(f) would not arise.” = Indian company is the lead partner, and that the Supervisory Board constituted under the Consortium Agreement makes it clear that the lead partner really has the determining voice in that it appoints the Chairman of the said Board (undoubtedly, with the consent of other members); and the fact that the Consortium’s office is in Wadala, Mumbai as also that the lead member shall lead the arbitration proceedings, would all point to the fact that the 19 central management and control of this Consortium appears to be exercised in India and not in any foreign nation. we dismiss the petition filed under Section 11 of the Act, as there is no “international commercial arbitration” as defined under Section 2(1)(f) of the Act for the petitioner to come to this Court. We also do not deem it necessary to go into whether the appropriate stage for invoking Arbitration has yet been reached. It would be open for the petitioner to approach the relevant court on the footing that this is not a case of an international commercial arbitration

1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
ARBITRATION PETITION (C) No. 28 OF 2017
M/S LARSEN AND TOUBRO LIMITED SCOMI
ENGINEERING BHD …PETITIONER
VERSUS
MUMBAI METROPOLITAN REGION
DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY …RESPONDENT
J U D G M E N T
R.F. Nariman, J.
1) The present petition, under Section 11 of the Arbitration
& Conciliation Act, 1996, (in short ‘the Act’), that has been filed
before this Court, arises out of a contract entered into on
09.01.2009 for the work of planning, design, development,
construction, manufacture, supply, testing and commissioning of
a Monorail system in two particular earmarked sections in
Wadala, Mumbai including operation and maintenance for a
period of three years from the date of start of commercial
operations. This agreement contains an arbitration clause,
which is set out hereunder:-
2
“Claims, Disputes and Arbitration
20.1
Contractor’s
Claim
If the Contractor considers himself to be entitled to any extension
of the Time for Completion and/or any additional payment, under
any Clause of these Conditions for otherwise in connection with
the Contract, the Contractor shall give notice to the
Employer/Employer’s Representative, describing the event or
circumstance giving rise to the claim. The notice shall be given
as soon as practicable, and not later than 30 days after the
Contractor became aware, or should have become aware, of the
event or circumstance.
If the Contractor fails to give notice of a claim within such period
of 30 days, the Time for Completion shall not be extended, the
Contractor shall not be entitled to additional payment, and the
Employer/Employer’s Representative shall be discharged from all
liability in connection with the claim. Otherwise, the following
provisions of this Sub-Clause shall apply.
The Contractor shall also submit any other notices which are
required by the Contract, and supporting particulars for the claim,
all as relevant to such event or circumstance.
The Contractor shall keep such contemporary records as may be
necessary to substantiate any claim, either on the Site or at
another location acceptable to the Employer/Employer’s
Representative. Without admitting liability, the
Employer/Employer’s Representative may, after receiving any
notice under this Sub-Clause, monitor the record-keeping and/or
instruct the Contractor to keep further contemporary records.
The Contractor shall permit the Employer/Employer’s
Representative to inspect all these records, and shall (if
3
instructed) submit copies to the Employer/Employer’s
Representative.
Within 45 days after the Contractor became aware (or should
have become aware) of the event or circumstances giving rise to
the claim, or within such other period as may be proposed by the
Contractor and approved by the Employer/Employer’s
Representative, the contractor shall send to the
Employer/Employer’s Representative a fully detailed claim which
includes full supporting particulars of the basis of the claim and of
the extension of time and/or additional payment claimed. If the
event or circumstance giving rise to the claim has a continuing
effect:
(a) this fully detailed claim shall be considered as interim;
(b) the Contractor shall send further interim claims at monthly
intervals, giving the accumulated delay and/or amount claimed,
and such further particulars as the Employer may reasonably
require; and
(c) the Contractor shall send a final claim within 30 days after
the end of the effects resulting from the event or circumstance, or
within such other period as may be proposed by the Contractor
and approved by the Employer/Employer’s Representative.
Within 45 days after receiving a claim or any further particulars
supporting a previous claim, or within such other period as may
be proposed by the Employer/Employer’s Representative and
approved by the Contractor, the employer shall respond with
approval, or with disapproval and detailed comments. He may
also request any necessary further particulars, but shall
4
nevertheless give his response on the principles of the claim
within such time.
Each interim payment shall include such amounts for any claim
as have been reasonable substantiated as due under the
relevant provision of the Contract, unless and until the particulars
supplied are sufficient to substantiate the whole of the claim, the
Contractor shall only be entitled to payment for such part of the
claim as he has been able to substantiate.
The Employer/Employer’s Representative shall proceed in
accordance with Sub-Clause 3.5 (Determination) to agree or
determine (i) the extension (if any) of the Time for completion
(before or after its expiry) in accordance with Sub-Clause 8.4
[Extension of Time for Completion], and/or
(ii) the additional payment (if any) to which the Contractor is
entitled under the Contract. The requirements of this Sub-Clause
are in addition to those of any other Sub-Clause, which may
apply to a claim. If the Contractor fails to comply with this or
another Sub-Clause in relation to any claim, any extension of
time and/or additional payment shall take account of the extent (if
any) to which the failure has prevented or prejudiced proper
investigation of the claim, unless the claim is excluded under the
second paragraph of this Sub-Clause.
20.2
Dispute to be
referred to and
settled by
Employer’s
Representative
Should any dispute or difference of any kind whatsoever arise
between the Employer and the Contractor, in connection with, or
arising out of the Contract, or subject matter thereof, or the
execution of Works/commissioning of the System/Operation &
Maintenance of the System, whether, during the progress of
5
at Site Works/during Operation and Maintenance of the System or after
their completion and whether before or after termination,
abandonment or breach of Contract, it should, in the first place,
subject to the provision under Sub-clause 14.4 above, be
referred to and settled by the Employer’s Representative at Site,
who shall, within a period of 60 days after being requested in
writing by either party to do so, give written notice of his decision
to the Employer and the Contractor. The Employer’s
Representative at Site while considering the matters of dispute
referred to him, shall be competent to call for any records,
vouchers, information and enforce the attendance of the parties
either in person or through authorised representatives, to sort out
or clarify any issue, resolve the differences and to assist him to
decide the matters referred to him. Subject to arbitration, as
hereinafter provided, such decision in respect of every matter so
referred shall be final and binding upon the Employer and the
Contractor, who shall proceed with the execution of Works/
commissioning of the System/Operation & Maintenance of the
System (as the case may be) with all due diligence irrespective
of whether any of the parties goes in or desires to go in for
arbitration. If the Employer’s Representative at Site has given
written notice of his decision to the Employer and the Contractor
and no intimation of reference of any claim to arbitration has
been sent to him by either the Employer or the Contractor within
a period of 60 days from receipt of such notice, the said decision
of the Employer’s Representative shall remain final and binding
upon the Employer and the Contractor and the same shall be
deemed to have been accepted by them. The Employer or the
6
Contractor shall not seek any arbitration thereafter.
20.3
Referring of
Disputes for
Arbitration
If the Employer’s Representative at Site fails to give notice of his
decision, as aforesaid, within a period of 60 days after being
requested as aforesaid or if either the Employer or the Contractor
be dissatisfied with any such decision of the Employer’s
Representative at Site, only then shall the matter in dispute be
referred to arbitration as herein provided
20.4
Disputes Due
for Arbitration
and Settlement
of Disputes
Disputes or differences shall be due for arbitration only if the
conditions in Sub-Clause 20.2 and 20.3 above fulfilled.
Except where otherwise provided in the Contract, all disputes or
differences, whatsoever arising between the parties, arising out
of or relating to construction, measuring operation or effect of the
Contract or the breach thereof, shall be settled by arbitration as
detailed in Sub Clause 20.5.
20.5
Nomination of
Arbitrators/Sole
Arbitrator
Matters to be arbitrated upon shall be referred to a Sole Arbitrator
where the individual claim does not exceed Rs. 5 million or the
total value of claims does not exceed Rs. 15 millions. Beyond the
above limit(s), there shall be three arbitrators. For this purpose
the employer will make out a panel of Arbitrators with the
requisite qualifications and professional experience relevant to
the field to which the Contract relates and will be residents of
India only. In case of a single arbitrator, the Panel will be of three
Arbitrators, out of which the Contractor will choose one. In case
three arbitrators are to be appointed, the Employer will make out
a panel of five. The Contractor and the Employer will choose one
arbitrator each from the above and the two so chosen will choose
the third arbitrator from the above panel only who will act as the
7
“Presiding Arbitration” of the arbitration panel.
If in a dispute, the contractor fails to choose the Arbitrator within
thirty (30) days after the Employer has nominated the Panel, the
Employer may nominate an Arbitrator from the same panel of
Arbitrators given by the Employer for the matter in dispute.
If, in a dispute, the two chosen Arbitrators fail to appoint third
Arbitrator- Presiding Arbitrator (Arbitration Panel’s case) within
thirty (30) days after they have been appointed, the Employer
may apply to the Indian Council of Arbitration, New Delhi, to
nominate the third Arbitrator from the same panel of Arbitrators
given by the Employer for the matter in dispute.
Neither party shall be limited in the proceedings before such
arbitrator/s to the evidence or arguments put before the
Employer’s Representative at Site for the purpose of obtaining
his decision. No decision given by the Employer’s
Representative in accordance with the foregoing provisions shall
disqualify him from being called as a witness and giving evidence
before the arbitrator/s on any matter, whatsoever, relevant to
dispute or difference referred to arbitrator/s.
Substitute Arbitrators- If for any reason on arbitrator is unable to
perform his function, a substitute shall be appointed in the same
manner as the original arbitrator.
20.6 Arbitration
Venue,
Language and
Award
In any Arbitration proceedings hereunder:
(a) Proceedings shall be held in Mumbai, India only.
(b) English language shall be the official language for all
purposes. (Note: English language may be changed to any other
language, with the agreement of both the parties)
8
(c) The Arbitration Award shall be final and binding on all parties
and shall be enforceable in any Court of competent jurisdiction,
and the parties hereby waive any objection to or claims of
immunity in respect of such enforcements.
(d) In Arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, any
decision of the arbitral tribunal shall be made by a majority of all
its members.
(e) The Arbitrator(s) shall always give item-wise and reasoned
awards irrespective of the value of claim(s) in the dispute in all
cases.
(f) Where the arbitral award is for payment of money, no interest
shall be payable on the whole or any part of the money for any
period till the date on which the award is made.
(g) The cost of arbitration shall be borne by the respective
parties. The cost inter-alia includes the fees of the Arbitrator(s)
as per the rate fixed by the Employer from time to time.
20.7
Rules
Governing the
Arbitration
Proceedings
The arbitration proceedings shall be governed by India Arbitration
and Conciliation Act, 1996, as amended, from time to time
including provisions in force at the time the reference is made.
20.8
No Supervision
of Work
The reference to arbitration shall proceed notwithstanding that
Works/System shall not then be or be alleged to be complete,
provided always that the obligations of the Employer/Employer’s
Representative and the Contractor shall not be altered by
reasons of arbitration being conducted during the progress of
Works. Neither party shall be entitled to suspend the work to
which the dispute relates on account of arbitration and payments
9
to the Contractor shall continue to be made in terms of the
Contract.
20.9
Limitation of
Time
No dispute or difference shall be referred to Arbitration after
expiry of 60 days from the date of decision by the Employer’s
Representative at Site, if notified, or from the date when the
Employer’s Representative at Site ought to have given his
decision in terms of provisions under Sub-Clause 20.2 in case of
failure on the part of the Employer’s Representative at Site to
give notice of decision.
Since disputes arose between the parties to the agreement,
various interim claims had been made by the Consortium of M/s
Larsen and Toubro, an Indian company, together with Scomi
Engineering Bhd, a Company incorporated in Malaysia, for
which the Consortium has filed this petition under Section 11 of
the Act to this Court, since according to them, one of the parties
to the Arbitration agreement, being a body corporate,
incorporated in Malaysia, would be a body corporate, which is
incorporated in a country other than India, which would attract
Section 2(1)(f)(ii) of the Act.
2) Shri Gopal Jain, learned senior counsel appearing on
behalf of the Consortium, has taken us through the agreement,
in which he strongly relies upon the fact that the two entities,
that is, the Indian company and the Malaysian company, though
10
stated to be a Consortium, are jointly and severally liable, to the
employer. Learned senior counsel has also relied upon the fact
that throughout the working of the contract, separate claims
have been made, which have been rejected by the Mumbai
Metropolitan Region Development Authority (hereinafter
referred to as ‘MMRDA’). He has also further relied upon the
fact that by at least three letters, during the working of the
agreement, the claims have in fact been rejected altogether and
that, therefore, there is no impediment in invoking the Arbitration
clause under Section 20.4 of the General Conditions of Contract
(hereinafter referred to as ‘GCC’), as the procedure outlined by
Clauses 20.1 to 20.03 had already been exhausted.
3) On the other hand, Mr. Shyam Diwan, learned senior
counsel appearing on behalf of MMRDA, the respondent, has
relied upon both the contract dated 09.01.2009 as well as the
actual Consortium Agreement dated 04.06.2008 between the
Indian company and the Malaysian company, which, when read
together, would show that they are really an un-incorporated
association and would, therefore, fall within Section 2(1)(f)(iii) as
being an association or a body of individuals, provided the
central management and control is exercised in any country
other than India. He has also gone on to rely heavily upon the
11
fact that in the Consortium, the lead partner is the Indian
company, and the Consortium’s office is at Wadala in Mumbai
making it clear, therefore, that sub-Clause (iii) of Section 2(1)(f)
of the Act would not apply as it is clear that the central
management and control, that is envisaged by the said subClause,
would not be exercised in a country outside India but in
India itself. He has also strongly relied upon an order passed by
the High Court of Bombay, dated 20.10.2016 between the same
parties, in which an interim Award dated 18.08.2016 was
challenged, which was between the same parties arising out of
the self-same agreement. This Order upheld the interim Award
of the Learned Arbitrators in stating that the particular claim that
was made in that case could be made only as a Consortium
and not as two entities separately. He has also pointed out that
this Order has become final as it has not been challenged by
the petitioner before this Court. In answering Mr. Gopal Jain’s
submission as to Clause 20.4 of the GCC being invoked after
the procedure under Clauses 20.1 to 20.3 has been exhausted,
he referred to and relied upon a letter dated 22.04.2016 written
by the respondent in which, after referring to the various
refusals, referred to by Mr. Jain, further information and material
was requested from Mr. Jain’s client. Instead of furnishing such
12
material straightaway, a notice invoking Arbitration dated
01.07.2016 was sent by Mr. Jain’s client. The respondent, by a
reply dated 20.08.2016 reiterated its position that Clauses 20.1
to 20.3 had not yet been exhausted, and therefore, on
08.09.2016, rejected the request for arbitration.
4) The contract dated 09.01.2009 is between (1) MMRDA
and (2) a Consortium, comprising, (a) L&T, an Indian Company,
and; (b) M/s Scomi Engineering Bhd, a Malaysian Company. It
is true that each of them are jointly and severally responsible to
the employer, being collectively referred to as the “contractor.”
5) Under the General Conditions of Contract, the
“contractor”, in Clause 1.1.2.3 is defined as meaning an
Individual, Firm, Company, Corporation, Joint Venture or
Consortium, whether incorporated or not. “Bidder” is also
defined under Clause 1.1.2.10 as meaning an Individual, Firm,
Company, Corporation, Joint Venture or Consortium which
could submit a bid. What is important to notice is that the
contract was signed by the employer, viz., MMRDA and by the
contractor under the head sub-Clauses (A) and (B) in which
L&T India signed as ‘A’ and Scomi Engineering Bhd has signed
as ‘B’. When we come to the consortium agreement that is
entered into between the Indian company and the Malaysian
13
company as aforestated, we find in the definition clause that
“Consortium” shall mean L&T and Scomi Engineering Bhd,
acting in collaboration, for the purpose of this agreement and
shall be called “the L&T-SEB” Consortium “un-incorporated.”
The contract is defined in sub-Clause 6 as meaning, “the
contract to be entered by the Consortium with the employer for
the execution of the Project”. Under sub-Clause 7, “the lead
Member of the Consortium” or “Consortium Leader” shall mean
L&T, that is, the Indian Company. Under sub-Clause 8, the
“Supervisory Board” (hereinafter referred to as ‘the SB’) shall
mean a Board constituted under Clause 11 of the GCC. When
we come to Clause 11.2, it is clear that the Members of this
Supervisory Board will consist of four members, two appointed
by each Member. One of the Members nominated by the
Consortium Leader and agreed to by all members shall then act
as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, which is, by Clause
11.5, to decide on various matters relating to the execution of
the contract. Clause 21.1(g) provides that the Consortium
leader shall lead all arbitration proceedings.
6) As correctly pointed out by Shri Jain, separate claims
were made by the Indian company and the Malaysian company
which were rejected by the respondent. Nonetheless, by a
14
letter dated 22.04.2016, the respondent referred to these
various rejection letters, and stated that documents in support
of the list of “delayed events” had not yet been given, and
therefore, necessary information and clarification, in response
to certain observations, together with all documents in support
of the claim, was requested to be furnished. By a letter dated
01.07.2016, the Consortium, instead of responding to this letter,
invoked arbitration, stating that interim claims had already been
rejected, and all the necessary information had already been
furnished, as a result of which, the stage of Clause 20.4 had
arrived. This was replied to by a letter dated 20.08.2016 in
which the respondent reiterated its position that the remedies
provided under Clause 20.3 has not yet been exhausted, and
that therefore, there is no question of appointing an Arbitrator.
On 08.09.2016, the notice invoking arbitration was replied to by
the respondent, rejecting the same.
7) It is important, at this juncture, to refer to an order made
by the High Court of Bombay dated 20.10.2016 which, as has
been stated earlier, arises between the self-same parties, under
the same contract. An interim Award made by the Arbitrators
qua different claims arising under the same contract had made
it clear that the claim could be filed only in the name of the
15
Consortium and not separately, as was contended by Shri
Jain’s client. The preliminary issue framed on this count was
“whether the claimants are entitled to file this claim as Claimant
No. 1 and Claimant No. 2 or only as the Consortium of L&T and
Scomi Engineering Bhd?” The High Court of Bombay, agreed
with the interim Award of the Arbitrators, and held as follows:-
“8. Considering the terms and conditions of the contract
as well as the decision cited by Mr. Ankhad, in my
opinion, in the facts and circumstances of the present
case, it is not open for the petitioners to rely upon their
independent identities while dealing with the respondent
and that they will have to deal with the respondent as a
Consortium only. Therefore, there is no infirmity in the
impugned order. For the same reason, the present
petition as filed would also not been maintainable.
Hence, the same is dismissed.”
8) Shri Gopal Jain did not dispute the fact that this
judgment was final inter-parties as no appeal has been
preferred. Therefore, to stress the fact that it pertains only to
“this claim” and would therefore, not apply to a different set of
claims under the arbitration clause is not an argument that
appeals to us.
9) It is clear, as has been held by the judgment of the High
Court of Bombay, and which is binding inter-parties, that it is not
open for the petitioner to rely upon their status as independent
16
entities while dealing with the respondent and they will have to
deal with the respondent as a Consortium only.
10) This being the case, it is clear that the un-incorporated
“association” referred to in Section 2(1)(f)(iii) would be attracted
on the facts of this case and not Section 2(1)(f)(ii) as the
Malaysian body cannot be referred to as an independent entity
following the judgment of the High Court of Bombay.
11) Section 2(1)(f)(iii) of the Act refers to two different sets of
persons: an “association” as distinct and separate from a “body
of individuals”. For example, under Section 2(31) of the Income
Tax Act, 1961, “person” is defined as including, under subclause
(v), an association of persons, or body of individuals,
whether incorporated or not. It is in this sense, that an
association is referred to in Section 2(1)(f)(iii) which would
therefore include a consortium consisting of two or more bodies
corporate, at least one of whom is a body corporate
incorporated in a country other than India.
12) Further, the expression “a company or” which was
originally at the beginning of Section 2(1)(f)(iii) was omitted by
Act 3 of 2016. This was for the reason that the judgment of this
Court, in TDM Infrastructure Private Ltd. v. UE Development
India Private Ltd., (2008) 14 SCC 271, held that the
17
expression “a company or” in Section 2(1)(f)(iii) of the Act
cannot possibly be said to refer to a company registered and
incorporated in India which may be controlled by persons in a
country outside India. The Court held:
“20. The learned counsel contends that the word “or”
being disjunctive, sub-clause (iii) of Section 2(1)(f) of
the 1996 Act shall apply in a case where sub-clause (ii)
shall not apply. We do not agree. The question of taking
recourse to sub-clause (iii) would come into play only in
a case where sub-clause (ii) otherwise does not apply
in its entirety and not where by reason of an exclusion
clause, consideration for construing an agreement to be
an international commercial arbitration agreement goes
outside the purview of its definition. Once it is held that
both the companies are incorporated in India, and, thus,
they have been domiciled in India, the arbitration
agreement entered into by and between them would not
be an international commercial arbitration agreement
and, thus, the question of applicability of sub-clause (iii)
of Section 2(1)(f) would not arise.”
The Law Commission Report No. 246 of August 2014, which
made several amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation
Act, 1996, gave the following reason for deleting the words “a
company or”:
“(iii) In sub-section (1), clause (f), sub-clause (iii), delete
the words “a company or” before the words “an
association or a body of individuals.
[NOTE: The reference to “a company” In sub-section
(iii) has been removed since the same is already
covered under sub-section (ii). The intention is to
determine the residence of a company based on its
place of incorporation and not the place of central
management/control. This further re-enforces the “place
of incorporation” principle laid down by the Supreme
18
Court in TDM Infrastructure Private Limited v. UE
Development India Private Limited, (2008) 14 SCC 271,
and adds greater certainty in case of companies having
a different place of incorporation and place of exercise
of central management and control]”
It would become clear that prior to the deletion of the
expression “a company or”, there were three sets of persons
referred to in Section 2(1)(f)(iii) as separate and distinct persons
who would fall within the said sub-clause. This does not change
due to the deletion of the phrase “a company or” for the reason
given by the Law Commission. This is another reason as to why
“an association” cannot be read with “body of individuals” which
follows it but is a separate and distinct category by itself, as is
understood from the definition of “person” as defined in the
Income Tax Act referred to above.
13) This being the case, coupled with the fact, as correctly
argued by Shri Diwan, that the Indian company is the lead
partner, and that the Supervisory Board constituted under the
Consortium Agreement makes it clear that the lead partner
really has the determining voice in that it appoints the Chairman
of the said Board (undoubtedly, with the consent of other
members); and the fact that the Consortium’s office is in
Wadala, Mumbai as also that the lead member shall lead the
arbitration proceedings, would all point to the fact that the
19
central management and control of this Consortium appears to
be exercised in India and not in any foreign nation.
14) This being the case, we dismiss the petition filed under
Section 11 of the Act, as there is no “international commercial
arbitration” as defined under Section 2(1)(f) of the Act for the
petitioner to come to this Court. We also do not deem it
necessary to go into whether the appropriate stage for invoking
Arbitration has yet been reached.
15) The Arbitration Petition is dismissed in the aforesaid
terms.
16) It would be open for the petitioner to approach the
relevant court on the footing that this is not a case of an
international commercial arbitration.
………………………………J.
(R.F. Nariman)
………………………………J.
(Navin Sinha)
New Delhi;
October 3, 2018.