Landmark Judgment by the Supreme Court in DCM Shriram Aqua Foods Limited v. Dyna Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court has issued a landmark judgment in the case of DCM Shriram Aqua Foods Limited v. Dyna Technologies Pvt. Ltd. The judgment, which addresses key aspects of the Arbitration Act, reaffirms the importance of upholding arbitral awards and respecting party autonomy in dispute resolution. This decision marks a pivotal moment in Indian jurisprudence, setting the stage for clearer guidelines on the enforcement of arbitration agreements and awards.


  • Contract entered into between DCM Shriram Aqua Foods Limited (DCM) and Crompton Greaves Limited (CGL) for construction works.
  • Appellant Dyna Technologies Pvt. Ltd. provided proposal for the work.
  • CGL issued Letter of Intent with clauses for compensation in case of idle time for equipment and manpower.
  • Appellant claimed losses due to unproductive use of machineries which was accepted by Arbitral Tribunal.
  • High Court partly allowed the appeal and set aside the award related to this claim.
  • Original petition filed before the High Court questioning the award under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act.
  • The High Court found that the award lacked sufficient reasons
  • The statements in paragraphs 3.1 (a) to 3.1 (g) were deemed to lack reasoning, discussions, or conclusions

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  • The High Court partially allowed the appeal and set aside certain aspects of the arbitral award.
  • The petitioner’s counsel argued that the basis for the claimant’s right and the liability of the appellant were not indicated in the award.
  • The Arbitral Tribunal had considered all available material and evidence before making its decision on the losses suffered by the appellant due to unproductive use of machineries.
  • The High Court’s interference in the arbitral award was deemed beyond the scope of the Arbitration Act.
  • The arbitrator, being the chosen judge of the parties, cannot be set aside unless there is an error apparent on the face of the record.
  • The High Court’s attempt to reappraise and substitute its own view was criticized as contravening the agreement under which the dispute arose.
  • The Court emphasized the importance of deferring to the Arbitral Tribunal’s view, even if the reasoning in the award is implied.
  • The necessity of providing reasons in the arbitral award under Section 31 of the Arbitration Act was highlighted.
  • The Tribunal had given specific findings on the compensation amount, holding the petitioner liable based on evidence.
  • The High Court’s contention that the arbitral proceeding exceeded the competence of the Tribunal was discussed.
  • The petitioner’s liability for the losses incurred and the need for reimbursement by the respondent were emphasized.
  • The importance of not interfering with the arbitral award unless there is an error under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act was reiterated.
  • Various legal precedents and provisions were cited to support the petitioner’s arguments against setting aside the arbitral award.
  • The petitioner’s claim for actual losses suffered and established before the Arbitral Tribunal was highlighted as a valid demand.
  • Invalidity of contractual clauses that contravene statutory provisions or are against public policy was discussed.
  • The interference by the Division Bench of the High Court in setting aside certain claims was argued to be beyond the scope of the Arbitration Act.
  • The terms of the contract expressly prohibit the payment of compensation if the contract is terminated due to the termination of the project.
  • The Arbitral Tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction and committed a manifest error by directing the payment of compensation despite the contract’s prohibition.
  • The judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court correctly set aside the award as it went beyond the contract terms.
  • Section 34(2)(a)(iv) of the Arbitration Act allows setting aside an award if it deals with a dispute not contemplated in the arbitration submission.
  • The Division Bench’s observations in the impugned judgment align with established legal principles as seen in the case of KN Sathyapalan v. State of Kerala.
  • The claim disallowed by the High Court is for compensation or damages due to premature contract termination, which the contract does not entitle.
  • Both the Arbitral Tribunal and the Single Judge of the High Court failed to consider the contract terms while evaluating the claim for compensation.
  • According to settled law, the Arbitral Tribunal cannot grant compensation beyond what the contract allows.

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  • Claim no. 1 regarding losses due to idle charges was settled amicably by the parties. Balance towards interest component also paid.
  • Claim no. 3 for loss of profit was disallowed by Arbitral Tribunal and not questioned by the appellant-claimant. Finality attained.
  • Courts should not interfere with arbitral awards on factual aspects to preserve commercial wisdom behind opting for alternate dispute resolution.
  • Arbitral Tribunal concluded abruptly without providing reasons for claimant’s defense.
  • Challenges to awards based on being unintelligible or lacking reasoning equivalent to providing no reasons.
  • Courts should not casually interfere with awards unless perversity goes to the root without any alternative interpretation sustaining the award.
  • Need for clear separation of claimant’s arguments and evidence relied upon by the Tribunal.
  • Requirement of legal reasoning to support conclusions in arbitral awards for them to be sustained.
  • Complexity of subject matter affects the degree of particularity required in the reasoning of an award.
  • High Court not to interfere if there is no reasoned award under Section 34; should consider remanding the matter to the Tribunal.
  • Awards jumbling contentions, facts, and reasoning without proper distinction can be confusing and subject to challenge.
  • Careful distinction needed between inadequacy of reasons and unintelligible awards when setting aside awards.
  • Legislative intention behind Section 34(4) of the Arbitration Act to make awards enforceable after allowing for correction of curable defects.
  • Courts to respect finality of arbitral awards and party autonomy in choosing alternative dispute resolution forums.
  • Importance of awards being supported by reasons to align with intention of the legislature and commercial wisdom of arbitration choice.
  • Tribunal’s narration of facts and references to annexures supported the compensation claims by the claimant.
  • Mobilization and expenses incurred by the claimant on hire charges should be reimbursed based on presented claims and evidence.
  • Concluding paragraph of the award and pointers on the jurisdiction of the court under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act addressed by the Tribunal.
  • Section 34 of the Arbitration Act allows challenges to an arbitral award on specific grounds.
  • The grounds for setting aside an arbitral award include incapacity of a party, invalidity of the arbitration agreement, lack of proper notice, or dealing with matters beyond the scope of arbitration.
  • The application for setting aside must be made within three months of receiving the arbitral award, unless there was a valid reason for delay.
  • The court may adjourn proceedings upon receiving an application to allow the arbitral tribunal to address the grounds for setting aside the award.
  • An award can be declared in conflict with public policy if it was influenced by fraud, corruption, or violated specific sections of the law.
  • An award can neither be remitted nor set aside solely for lack of reasons unless required by the arbitration agreement or deed of submission.
  • Arbitrators are not obligated to give reasons unless stipulated in the agreement or directed by the court.
  • An error of law committed by the arbitrator based on reasons provided can lead to setting aside of the award by the court.
  • Case law indicates that arbitrator’s decision is generally binding, with court intervention limited to specified cases in the Arbitration Act.
  • Section 31(3) of the Arbitration Act mandates that awards must have proper, intelligible, and adequate reasoning, which can be deduced by the courts if necessary.
  • Som Datt Builders Ltd. v. State of Kerala emphasized the importance of passing reasoned awards under the Arbitration Act for a fair decision-making process.
  • The award was muddled and confused, leading the High Court to conclude that the arbitrator only restated the arguments of both parties.
  • The inadequate reasoning and reliance on the approval of one party, over the complexity of the issue, rendered the award unintelligible and unsustainable.
  • The litigation has been ongoing for over 25 years with no resolution in sight, indicating the prolonged nature of the legal process.
  • The award lacked proper reasons and did not provide clarity on the decision-making process, further complicating the case.

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  • The appellant is directed to pay a sum of Rs. 30,00,000/- in full settlement against claim No 2 within 8 weeks.
  • If the payment is not made within 8 weeks, the appellant will be entitled to interest at 12% per annum until payment.
  • The payment is aimed at providing closure to the current litigation.
  • No costs are imposed in this matter.


Case Number: C.A. No.-002153-002153 / 2010

Click here to read/download original judgement

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