Madras High Court refuses to accept that arbitration is more expensive than court

TAMIL NADU

Madras High Court refuses to accept that arbitration is more expensive than court litigation

Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 06 JUNE 2020 16:01 ISTUPDATED: 06 JUNE 2020 16:01 IST    

The question of meeting expenses is untenable, as it is applicable in matters of all types of litigation, the first Division Bench said, while disposing of a writ petition

The Madras High Court has refused to accept an argument that arbitral proceedings are generally expensive, compared to the cost of litigation in courts, and therefore poor litigants cannot be forced to go for arbitration on the grounds of alternative remedies.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy rejected the argument while disposing of a writ appeal preferred by A. Janakiraman, a member of Railway Employees Cooperative Credit Society, against the continuance of N. Kanniah as its head since 1998.Advertising

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During the course of the hearing, the Chief Justice pointed out that the issue raised by the appellant was basically an election dispute that had to be raised before an Arbitrator. He also said, a single judge of the court was not right in dismissing the case on merits when an alternative remedy was available.

The single judge was not right in entertaining the writ petition merely because one year had lapsed since the petition was filed. A mere lapse of one year of time does not rule out the applicability of the alternative remedy that was statutorily available to the appellant, the CJ said.

At this point, the appellant’s counsel argued that arbitration was time consuming and that forcing a low-paid employee such as the appellant to resort to arbitration would also cause a pecuniary burden on him. She also produced the salary slip of the appellant to substantiate her submission.

However, the first Division Bench, in its order, replied: “We are unable to appreciate this argument for the simple reason that a statutory remedy has been provided and the provision of remedy has not been challenged as ultra vires.

“To contend that it is illusory and may take a longer time is no answer to a remedy created by the statute and this will amount to questioning the wisdom of the legislature for no valid ground.

“The question of meeting expenses is equally untenable as it is applicable in matters of all types of litigation and therefore, we are unable to compare and conclude that litigation in court is less costly than arbitration in the absence of any such material before us.

“Neither the cost of arbitration proceedings nor the time taken in getting it decided can be an excuse for seeking judicial review straight away under Article 226 (writ jurisdiction) of the Constitution.”

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