SC Judge Narasimha Recuses Himself from Hearing Plea Related to DMRC-DAMPEL Row

Justice PS Narasimha of the Supreme Court recused himself on Monday from hearing a plea moved by the Reliance Infrastructure-owned Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) challenging a high court order on a review petition of the DMRC pertaining to a 2017 arbitral award.

The Delhi High Court had, on March 29, said its earlier direction on attachment of DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) funds in case of non-compliance of its directions in the execution plea will not come in the way of payment of salaries to employees as well as payment towards operation and maintenance expenses.

The DAMEPL has come to the top court challenging the high court order on the DMRC’s review plea. On March 17, the high court had directed the Centre and the city government to attend to the DMRC’s request for extending the sovereign guarantees or subordinate debt to enable it to make the payment of the dues of an arbitral award passed in favour of the DAMEPL.

It had also said the sovereign governments cannot shirk their liability to abide by binding judgments and decrees.

The high court had also ordered that in case of a failure on the part of the parties to proceed in terms of the directions, the entire amount under “Total DMRC Funds, Total Project Funds and Total Other Funds” shall be attached.

The order was modified by the high court on the review plea of the DMRC.

The moment the DAMEPL’s plea came up for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, the court said Justice Narasimha does not to be part of the hearing.

“List the special leave petitions before the bench comprising Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and Hon’ble Justice JB Pardiwala on April 13, 2023 at the end of the board,” it ordered.

The high court was informed on March 29 that the Centre and the city government have filed appeals before the Supreme Court against its direction to them to attend to the payment of dues to the DAMEPL by the DMRC pursuant to the 2017 arbitral award.

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

The DMRC had sought a review of the order on the ground that an attachment of its statutory expenses will result in an immediate stoppage of the entire metro network in the national capital.

In its judgment, the high court had said the decision on sovereign guarantees and subordinate debt has to be taken by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Delhi government within two weeks and if the permission is accorded to the DMRC, it would deposit the entire amount payable under the award, along with up-to-date interest, within a month.

An arbitral tribunal, in May 2017, ruled in favour of the DAMEPL, which had pulled out of running the Airport Express metro line over safety issues, and accepted its claim that running the operations on the line was not viable due to structural defects in the viaduct through which the trains would pass.

In February this year, the 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.

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