Arbitration Award: DMRC Urges SC to Consider Curative Petition in DAMEPL Matter

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has urged the Supreme Court to urgently take up its curative petition against the top court’s 2021 order dismissing its plea that had sought a review of a verdict that upheld a 2017 arbitration award in favour of the Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL), a Reliance Infrastructure subsidiary, enforceable against it.

Attorney General R Venkataramani told a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Friday that the DMRC’s curative petition was pending before the apex court since August last year.

He told the court that the matter needs to be considered urgently and referred to a March 17 verdict of the Delhi High Court that directed the Centre and the city government to attend to the DMRC’s request for extension of sovereign guarantees or subordinate debt to enable it to make payment of the dues of an arbitral award passed in favour of the DAMEPL.

The bench told Venkataramani that it will consider the matter soon.

In February, the high court had noted that the total amount of the award with interest till February 14, 2022 was Rs 8,009.38 crore. Of this, a sum of Rs 1,678.42 crore has been paid by the DMRC and an amount of Rs 6,330.96 crore is still due.

On March 23, the DMRC had urged the high court to review the March 17 verdict passed on a plea moved by the DAMEPL seeking payment of unpaid dues by the DMRC under the 2017 arbitral award, saying an attachment of its statutory expenses will result in the immediate stoppage of the entire metro network in the national capital.

The high court’s March 17 verdict came on an execution petition filed by the Reliance Infrastructure-owned DAMEPL against the DMRC over payment of dues of the arbitral award passed in its favour.

In November 2021, the apex court had dismissed a plea filed by the DMRC seeking a review of its judgment that upheld the 2017 arbitration award in favour of the DAMEPL.

The top court had, on September 9, 2021, upheld the 2017 arbitration award enforceable against the DMRC and said there was a disturbing tendency of courts setting aside arbitral awards.

It had quashed the high court order that had set aside the arbitration award in favour of the DAMEPL, which had pulled out from running the Airport Express metro line over safety issues.

The arbitral tribunal had, in its May 2017 award, accepted the DAMEPL’s claim that the running of operations on the line was not viable due to structural defects in the viaduct through which the train would run.

The concession agreement between the two was signed on August 25, 2008. Under the agreement, the DMRC was to carry out the civil work, excluding at the depot, and the balance, including the project system work, was to be executed by the DAMEPL, a joint venture of Reliance Infrastructure and a Spanish construction company, with a shareholding of 95 and five per cent respectively.

The Airport Express line was commissioned on February 23, 2011 following an investment of more than Rs 2,885 crore, funded by the DAMEPL promoters’ fund, banks and financial institutions.

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