High Courts to hear arbitration matters where proceedings filed simultaneously: SC

The Supreme Court of India held that the High Courts would hear challenges to an arbitral award (or arbitral agreement, or arbitral proceeding) where jurisdiction lies with more than one court and the parties initiate proceedings in multiple courts simultaneously.

In this interesting arbitration matter, the Court stated that though the jurisdiction for raising a challenge to the same arbitration agreement, arbitral proceeding or arbitral award, could arise in more than one court simultaneously, the court where the first challenge application is filed will alone have the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the dispute(s) which are filed later on. However, in the present case this was inapplicable since both the challenges had been filed on the same day.

The Court said it makes no difference “if the principal civil court of original jurisdiction” is in the same district over which the High Court exercises original jurisdiction or some other district. Further, if an option is to be exercised between a High Court (under its “ordinary original civil jurisdiction”) on the one hand and a District Court (as “principal civil court of original jurisdiction”) on the other, the choice under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 has to be exercised in favor of the High Court.

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