“Understanding the Grounds for Challenge under Section 12 of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act”

Understanding the Grounds for Challenge under Section 12 of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act

Section 12 of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 is significant due to its focus on the neutrality of arbitrators in the arbitration proceedings. According to the section, the objective is to ensure that all the arbitration proceedings are carried out fairly and without any bias. This ensures that both parties involved in the dispute are treated equally and that justice prevails. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the grounds for challenge under this section.

Grounds for Challenging an Arbitrator

According to our legal experts at SimranLaw, grounds for challenging the appointment of an arbitrator under section 12 include situations where there are justifiable doubts concerning the arbitrator’s independence or impartiality. Another ground is if the arbitrator does not possess the qualifications agreed upon by the parties involved.

In circumstances where these conditions are met, a party can challenge the appointment of an arbitrator. This is particularly useful in instances where a party feels that there might be unfairness in the arbitration proceeding due to bias, lack of qualifications or other reasons.

Important Case Laws and Judgments

Understanding the grounds for a challenge under section 12 would be incomplete without reference to relevant case laws and judgments. Here are some important ones:

1. Northern Railway Administration, Ministry of Railway, New Delhi Vs. Patel Engineering Company Ltd.

In this case, it was decided that if an arbitrator’s appointment is challenged under section 12 and he does not withdraw his mandate or the other side party does not agree to the challenge, the arbitrator himself decides on his continuation. If he decides in favour of his continuation, the aggrieved party can only make an application for setting aside the arbitral award.

2. Voestalpine Schienen GMBH vs. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd.

In this judgment, the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of neutrality in arbitrator selection. It was decided that every effort should be made to adhere to the principles of impartiality and independence in arbitration proceedings to maintain faith in arbitration processes.

3. HRD Corporation vs. GAIL (India) Ltd.

In this case, the Supreme Court emphasized the need for specific disclosures by arbitrators. It held that an arbitrator must disclose any circumstances that may raise justifiable doubts about his impartiality or independence.

The aforementioned cases not only highlight grounds for challenging an arbitrator but also underline the objective of Section 12 in upholding the principles of fairness, impartiality and independence in arbitration proceedings.


As legal experts at SimranLaw, it is our duty to scrutinize and dissect complex legal frameworks like Section 12 of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act to provide insights based on our years of experience. Understanding this section is crucial for anyone in arbitration proceedings because it safeguards the principles of fairness, impartiality and independence which are cardinal to a credible arbitration process.

Speaking from our extensive experience, challenging an arbitrator is a significant step in arbitration proceedings and should be made considering all the facts and circumstances to ensure justice prevails.

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