DELHI (Metro Rail News): The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL), a Reliance Infrastructure’s subsidiary, to appear before the Delhi High Court on January 31 and requested that the dispute over the execution of an arbitral award worth over Rs 4,600 crore be heard as soon as possible.
According to a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai, the hearing on the execution application cannot be postponed any longer because it is injurious to both parties interests. On September 9, 2021, the Supreme Court upheld DAMEPL’s 2017 arbitration award of roughly Rs 4,600 crore, which was enforceable against the DMRC.
DAMEPL’s senior counsel, Mukul Rohatgi, argued that the corporation is facing a flurry of legal actions. “There is no defence after the apex court has upheld the order. Let them deposit the money. The court can give them a few months, but the execution cannot be stalled for no reason,” he stated.
Senior advocate Parag Tripathi, representing DMRC, stated that it was willing to assume DAMEPL’s liabilities up to the amount of the award money because it would be in a stronger position to bargain with the lender banks. He claimed that they had agreed to the proposal in their conversation.
On the other hand, Rohatgi stated, “I will deal with my creditors myself. Who is he to deal with my creditors?” DAMEPL wrote to DMRC on December 30, 2021, asking whether it was willing to take over its debt, which was to be paid by DAMEPL and Reliance Infrastructure to their lenders, according to Tripathi.
After that, the bench inquired, “What is this? There is an award in their favour, which this court confirms. Now you are saying we will negotiate with your bankers.” Tripathi argued that taking on a sudden obligation would jeopardise public interest, resulting in the closure of metro operations not only in this city but in five others as well.
Tripathi exclaimed, “I am not running away. I have deposited Rs 1,000 crore after the order. All I am saying is permit me to negotiate. We asked what the total dues were.” “Where is the question of negotiating when he says pay me my money,” the Supreme Court ruled. Tripathi said he had stated as much and cited letters to back up his claim.
Tripathi submitted, “I have money for Nagpur, Patna and cities. These are special grants from various authorities, including multilateral loan agencies. If these are attached, it will create a severe problem. I am not running away. I am not a fly by night operator.” “What issue do you have if they are willing to pay the money?” the Supreme Court asked Rohatgi.
Rohatgi responded by saying he was no longer interested in speaking with them. The apex court then ordered the parties to appear in front of the high court on January 31 and requested that the execution application be dismissed without further delay.
“Petitioner’s execution application has been postponed until March 29, 2022.” The HC found that there had been attempts to resolve the issue over payment methods with banks and financial institutions, but these efforts had failed. Therefore, without commenting on either side’s representations, we believe that the hearing on the execution application cannot be further delayed.
In its order, the bench stated that The parties must appear in front of the high court on January 31 and request that the case is heard as soon as possible. Accordingly, we propose that the high court dismiss the execution application without further delay; both the petitioner and respondent will suffer due to the application’s pending status and dismiss DAMEPL’s appeal.
The Delhi High Court had already chastised DAMEPL for playing hide-and-seek with the court and holding out-of-court communications with DMRC to resolve a disagreement over the PSU’s execution of an arbitral award worth over Rs 4,600 crore.
DAMEPL’s argument that the line’s operations were not viable due to structural deficiencies in the bridge over which the train would pass was recognised by the arbitral panel in its May 2017 ruling. DMRC had filed an appeal against a single judge judgement from March 6 last year, upholding the arbitral verdict in DAMEPL’s favour, which a division bench had upheld.
On August 25, 2008, the two parties signed a concession deal. DMRC was to carry out the civil works, except at the depot, and DAMEPL, a joint venture of Rinfra and a Spanish construction company — Construcciones Y Auxiliar De Ferrocarriles — with 95 and 5% shareholdings, was to carry out the remaining works, including the project system works.
After an investment of about Rs 2,885 crore from the DAMEPL promoters’ fund, banks, and financial institutions, the Airport Express line was inaugurated on February 23, 2011.