MoRTH Panel To Fast Track Resolution Of Highway Project Disputes

Snapshot

The committee will look into arbitral awards or court orders where the settlement amount is more than Rs 100 crore.

 

In its bid to fast-track dispute resolution, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has formed a committee to examine all arbitral awards or court orders where the settlement amount is more than Rs 100 crore, to avoid the tendency of challenging such awards

The committee will also advise the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) whether to go for conciliation/settlement or to file any appeal against arbitral awards or court orders.

According to the ministry, the panel headed by Highways Secretary Giridhar Aramane will also look into cases where appeals are pending in various courts and will advise the highways authority on whether it should continue these court cases or go for conciliation before the Conciliation Committee of Independent Experts (CCIE) which have been set up by the NHAI for settlement of claims.

The total claim raised by private contractors in disputes over highway projects undertaken by the NHAI is estimated around Rs 1 lakh crore and the NHAI’s counterclaims are to the tune of around Rs 33,000 crore.

Sources said about 200 cases are pending before different high courts and the Supreme Court involving contractual issues and in most cases these are related to claims and counterclaims.

In a recent case, the highways authority settled an arbitral award of about Rs 1,000 crore with a private player at Rs 655 crore through conciliation after months of negotiation.

The newly-formed panel has been set up following the Finance Ministry’s direction to all ministries and government entities to put a system in place to avoid the tendency of challenging all arbitral awards.

The official circular says that the committee will advise the NHAI whether to go for conciliation or amicable settlement of any dispute referred to it by the authority chairman through the CCIE.

It will also advise if a particular dispute is to be resolved by conciliation, the amount at which NHAI should agree. The panel will advise the NHAI whether to withdraw from conciliation and also whether appeal should be filed against arbitration or court orders.