Shimla (Himachal) [India], August 20 (ANI): Taking note of whooping pendency of arbitration cases and overburdened Divisional Commissioners, who have been appointed as Arbitrator(s), by the Central Government, under the NHAI Act, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has held that it would be more appropriate if serving or retired district Judges or additional district judges, are conferred with such powers.
Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed the order on a number of petitions involving common questions of law and facts, filed for the extension of time of the mandate of the arbitrator(s).
The Central Government on March 22 in 2012, appointed Divisional Commissioner Shimla, for the revenue Districts Shimla and Solan and Divisional Commissioner Mandi, for the revenue Districts of Bilaspur, Mandi and Kullu to be arbitrator(s) and vested them with all the powers under the NHAI Act.
However, the Court was informed that there are as many as 869 cases pending before the Divisional Commissioner, Shimla and a whooping pendency of 2660 cases before the Divisional Commissioner, Mandi, some of which relate back to the year 2015.
It was also brought to the notice of the Court by the Counsels for the petitioner(s) that the Divisional Commissioners, Shimla and Mandi, are overburdened with revenue matters, in addition to routine administrative work and they have no time to decide these cases.
The court found that in such circumstances, the claimants and their lawyers are made to run from pillar to post and kept waiting for a considerable period for the decision by the authority. When the decision is not rendered, the helpless claimants have no option but to approach Court, which only adds to the litigations before the Courts, which, in turn, are itself overburdened.
The Court observed that the issue is indeed extremely serious and, therefore, required to be deliberated upon by all the stakeholders, more particularly, NHAI and Central Government.
The Court extended the time for completing the arbitral proceedings in the instant petitions up to February 28, 2024. The Court has directed the Deputy Solicitor General of India, HP, to file an action taken report on the basis of this order within four weeks. (ANI)
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