First filing principle in regards with arbitration proceedings: DHC

The Delhi High Court while allowing for multiplicity of jurisdiction did not provide primacy to any court and upheld the first filing principle in regards with an arbitration proceedings.

Dealing with jurisdiction of court where cause of action occurred against jurisdiction of court where an arbitration occurred under the Arbitration & Conciliation Act 1996 (“Act”), a Division Bench of the Court said, “We therefore declare the law to be that a bona-fide petition filed under the Act first in point of time would exclude jurisdiction of other Courts and vest exclusive jurisdiction in the said Court in view of Section 42 of the Act and the filing would mean a properly constituted petition filed in the Registry of the Court.”

“But if the Court finds that there was a hidden agenda in ousting jurisdiction of another Court and that the petition filed was devoid of merit and the Court so expressly states, the cunning act of filing the petition in said Court would not be treated as the said Court being the first one to be approached and therefore excluding jurisdiction in the other Court and vesting jurisdiction in said Court alone”, the Court added.

The Court said that a hidden agenda can never be countenanced by any Court of record; and Courts in India are not only Courts of law but even of justice and equity.

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