Trace Your Case


Union of India v. Reliance Industries Ltd., (2015) 10 SCC 213


  • Whether Indian Courts and authorities can exercise jurisdiction over disputes with a foreign arbitration law under Part I of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996?
  • Whether the petition filed under section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 at the Delhi High Court is maintainable?


  • Bhatia International v. Bulk Trading S.A. & Anr., (2002) 4 SCC 105, resurrected this doctrine of concurrent jurisdiction by holding that even where arbitrations are held outside India, unless the parties agree to exclude the application of Part-I of the Arbitration Act, 1996, either expressly or by necessary implication, the courts in India will exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the court in the country in which the foreign award was made.


  • Two contracts were signed between the Appellants and the Respondent for the Tapti and Panna Mukta Fields, wherein the governing seat of the contract was Indian Law, however, the venue for arbitration proceedings in case of a dispute was set to be London, England.
  • Since certain disputes and differences arose between the Union of India and Reliance Industries Limited sometime in 2010, the Union of India invoked the arbitration clause.
  • On 14.9.2011, the Union of India, Reliance Industries Limited and BG Exploration and Production India Limited, agreed to change the seat of arbitration to London, England and a final partial consent award was made and duly signed by the parties to this effect.
  • On 12.9.2012, the Arbitral Tribunal passed a final partial award which became the subject matter of a Section 34 petition filed in the Delhi High Court by the Union of India, dated 13.12.2012. The Delhi High Court by a judgment and order dated 22.3.2013 decided that the said petition filed under Section 34 was maintainable. The matter was then appealed before the Supreme Court of India.


  • The Supreme court reversed the ruling of the High Court and held that Part I of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 was inapplicable in the said dispute since a foreign seat and a foreign law is in exclusion to the Act.
  • The court noted that the Arbitration Act, 1996 does not define or mention juridical seat. The term “juridical seat” on the other hand is specifically defined in Section 3 of the English Arbitration Act. Therefore, this would clearly indicate that the parties understood that the arbitration law of England would be applicable to the arbitration agreement and therefore the petition filed at the Delhi High Court was considered to be non-maintainable.
  • The Court highly referred to the principle devised in the Bhatia International case, stating that “it is only those cases in which agreements stipulate that the seat of the arbitration is in India or on whose facts a judgment cannot be reached on the seat of the arbitration as being outside India that would continue to be governed by the Bhatia principle.”