The 1996 Act makes provision for the supervisory role of courts, for the review of the arbitral award only to ensure fairness. Intervention of the court is envisaged in few circumstances only, like, in case of fraud or bias by the arbitrators, violation of natural justice, etc.

The court cannot correct errors of the arbitrators. It can only quash the award leaving the parties free to begin the arbitration again if it is desired.

So, the scheme of the provision aims at keeping the supervisory role of the court at minimum level and this can be justified as parties to the agreement make a conscious decision to exclude the court's jurisdiction by opting for arbitration as they prefer the expediency and finality offered by it.

The Delhi High Court reiterated the above words of the Supreme Court, while setting aside the arbitration award without correcting the patent mistakes therein in Bharti Cellular Ltd vs Department of Telecommunications.

While doing this, the court pointed out that it was open for the petitioner to seek appropriate legal remedies.

(The author is a New Delhi-based chartered accountant)

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