The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with a Delhi High Court order directing Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to pay Rs 60 crore towards interest liability to the lenders of Reliance Infrastructure — a joint venture partner in the Delhi airport Metro express line.
Refusing to interfere with the high court order and granting DMRC a week’s more time to pay the money, the vacation bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed if the business partner of the government have to suffer the luxury of litigation by a public sector entity.
The high court by its June 7, 2017, order had asked DMRC to pay Rs 60 crore towards interest cost for the 90 days period commencing from May 11, 2017, when arbitration award was passed asking DMRC to pay Rs 4,670 crore to Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) which had constructed the Delhi airport express line.
The court order came after DAMEPL, a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, approached the high court seeking 75 per cent payment of arbitration in pursuance to the 2016 guidelines of NITI Aayog.
The arbitration tribunal had awarded it Rs 2,782.33 crore with 13.5 per cent per annum interest. Reliance Infrastructure had pulled out of Delhi airport express line in 2013.
Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha, appearing for DMRC, said the arbitration award was not enforceable till 90 days — the period given to the aggrieved party to challenge it.
Observing that such an approach would frustrate the “whole purpose of arbitration”, Justice Chandrachud referred to the global conference on national initiative towards strengthening arbitration and enforcement in India organised by NITI Aayog in October last year.
The bench was unimpressed even as the ASG contended that it would have “serious implications” and that the payment of such an amount would be an “unreasonable burden on a public utility”.
He said that DMRC was today carrying 28 lakh passengers daily and was running on a break-even basis.
Senior counsel P. Chidambram, appearing for DAMEPL, said they were paying Rs 60 lakh interest per day and had already paid Rs 117 crore.