At, High Court of Judicature at Calcutta
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SHEKHAR B. SARAF
For the Petitioner: Swatarup Banerjee, Shaunak Ghosh, Rajib Mullick, Rakesh Sankar, Advocates. For the Respondents: Arik Banerjee, Pujon Chatterjee, Altamash Alim, Advocates.
1. Heard counsel appearing on behalf of the parties with regard to point of jurisdiction.
2. The counsel on behalf of the respondent has placed the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgments in M/s. Ravi Ranjan Developers Pvt. Ltd. –v- Aditya Kumar Chatterjee arising out of SLP (C) No. 17397 – 17398 of 2021 and also in Union of India –v- Adani Exports Ltd. reported in (2002) 1 SCC 567 to support his case that the Calcutta High Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain this matter.
3. According to the respondent, the parties are outside the jurisdiction of the Calcutta High Court and the agreement was signed in Maheshtala, that is, a place outside the Ordinary Original Civil Jurisdiction of this Court. He further submits that there is no specific pleading by the petitioner in the Section 9 application with regard to seeking leave to move the aforesaid application because part of the cause of action has arisen within the jurisdiction of Calcutta High Court.
4. Mr. Swatarup Banerjee, counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner has placed reliance on clauses 18(c), 19 and Schedule-1 of the loan agreement to indicate that parties have agreed to exclusive jurisdiction of Kolkata and the place or venue of arbitration is also Kolkata. He has further placed reliance upon the signature page of the loan agreement to indicate that the aforesaid agreement was signed at the Bankshall Court, Kolkata. According to Mr. Swatarup Banerjee, since the agreement was signed within the jurisdiction of the Calcutta High Court, part of the cause of action has arisen within the jurisdiction of this Court. Furthermore, the fact that exclusive jurisdiction has been given to Courts at Calcutta along with the place of venue being at Kolkata, he submits that the Calcutta High Court being the principal Court having ordinary original civil jurisdiction under Section 2(1)(e) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 has the jurisdiction to entertain the present petition.
5. Upon hearing the parties, I am of the view that the documents reveal that the agreement was signed within the jurisdiction of the Calcutta High Court. Further, the judgment cited by the respondent in M/s Ravi Ranjan Developers Pvt. Ltd. (supra) is clearly distinguishable on facts as in that case the respondent himself had invoked the jurisdiction of another district court before moving to the Calcutta High Court under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, and therefore was estopped from contending that the parties had agreed to confer exclusive jurisdiction to the Calcutta High Court to the exclusion of other Courts. Furthermore, the agreement between the parties in that judgment did not confer jurisdiction to Kolkata as the agreement was not executed in Kolkata nor any other part of the cause of action had arisen in Kolkata. Additionally, neither of the parties to the said agreement construed the arbitration clause to designate Kolkata as the seat of arbitration. Therefore, the aforesaid judgment does not help the respondent’s case.
6. With regards to the judgment in Union of India –v- Adani Exports Ltd. (supra) cited by the respondent, it is to be noted that the principles that emerge from this judgment do not in any manner impact the present case as those are general principles of law which are acceptable by this Court.
7. Upon examination of the documents, I am of the view that part of the cause of action has arisen within the territorial jurisdiction of the High court at Calcutta, parties have decided in the agreement to have the venue in Kolkata and have also conferred the jurisdiction to the Courts in Kolkata. In light of the above, in my view, this Court has jurisdiction to entertain this matter.
8. The interim order that is subsisting shall continue till one week after the Christmas Vacation.
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. The parties are directed to file affidavits in this matter. The affidavit in opposition must be filed within three weeks from date; reply thereto, if any, be filed within one week thereafter. The parties are granted liberty to mention this matter for further hearing. 10. Urgent Photostat certified copy of this order, if applied for, should be made available to the parties upon compliance with the requisite formalities.