Supreme Court: The Chief Justice is freely empowered to appoint an independent arbitrator even though an arbitrator has been named in the arbitration agreement

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In ‘Union of India vs. Besco Ltd’ , a division bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi of the apex court held that the chief justice or designated judge  has the freedom to appoint an independent arbitrator even though the an arbitrator is provided in the arbitration agreement in accordance with the prevailing circumstances.

The court while dismissing the appeal of the plaintiff against the order of the high court, which had ruled that due to the plaintiff’s failure to appoint an  arbitrator within the stipulated time period, the right to appoint an arbitrator was no longer available to the plaintiff accordingly.

The court observed “Though an arbitrator is specified in the agreement for arbitration, if circumstances so warrant, the Chief Justice or the designated Judge is free to appoint an independent arbitrator, having due regard to the qualification, if any, and other aspects as required under Section 11(8) of the Act.”.

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