The Court: This is an application taken out by one Electrotherm (India) Ltd., seeking leave to intervene in AP 66 of 2014 and be examined pro interesse suo in the said proceeding.
Learned advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner in AP 66 of 2014 raises a preliminary objection and submits that there is no scope for the applicant to intervene in AP 66 of 2014 since it is not a party to the arbitration agreement which form the basis of an arbitration petition filed under section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. In this context, he refers and relies on the judgment of the Supreme Court rendered in the case of Firm Ashok Traders and Another vs. Gurumukh Das Saluja and Others, reported in (2004) 3 Supreme Court Cases 155. Referring to paragraph 13 of the said judgment, he submits that the qualification which a person invoking jurisdiction of the Court under section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, must possess is of being a "party" to an arbitration agreement. He further submits that a person not being a party to an arbitration agreement, cannot enter the Court for protection under section 9, as has been held by the Supreme Court in the said judgment.
On the other hand, learned advocate appearing on behalf of the applicant refers to the order dated 10th July, 2014, passed in AP No. 66 of 2014 and submits that it has been clearly observed therein that if a third party claims any money is due to it from the respondent and seeks to exercise lien over the asset on such ground, it will be open to the petitioner (Srei Equipment Finance Ltd.) to pay off the amount claimed and cause the receiver to take possession of the asset. He, thus, submits that by virtue of the above observation made in the order dated 10th July, 2014, he has approached this Court, seeking leave to intervene and be examined pro interesse suo in AP 66 of 2014.
In the facts and circumstances of the instant case, it is noticed that the applicant in the instant matter is not a person who is seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court under section 9. The applicant is someone whose rights are likely to be affected by any order passed in AP 66 of 2014. It may be observed that the applicant in the instant case may not be a party to an arbitration agreement, but he is not entering the Court for protection under section 9. The applicant is merely entering the Court to defend his rights which are likely to get affected consequent upon orders passed in favour of the petitioner in AP 66 of 2014. It is for the said purpose the applicant seeks leave to be examined pro interesse suo. As such, it cannot be held that a pro interesse suo application cannot be maintained in respect of a proceeding under section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and for the aforesaid reasons, the judgment referred to by the petitioner (Srei Equipment Finance Ltd.) has no manner of application in the facts of the instant case.
At this stage, it may not be out of place to take notice of a Division Bench judgment of this Court rendered in the case of Prema Gupta vs. TCI Finance Limited & Anr. reported in 2009 (1) CHN 135, which dwelt upon the term, "pro interesse suo" and its scope. Paragraphs 16 and 17 of the judgment is quoted hereinbelow :
"16. The only part of the said judgment that may be relevant in the instant case is with regard to the definition of the Latin expression, 'pro interesse suo', as appearing in paragraph 18 of the said judgment, which is reproduced hereinbelow:
"The latin expression pro interesse suo means in the English language for his own interest; these words are used, especially of a party allowed to intervene for his own interest in a proceeding instituted between other parties."
17. The other judgment of our High Court reported in AIR 1972 Calcutta 345 (supra) also deals with rights of person examined pro interesse suo. Paragraph 9 of the said judgment is reproduced hereinbelow:
"A proceeding in pro interesse suo is not provided for either in the Code of Civil Procedure or in the Rules of the Original Side of this Court. This is a procedure imported into this country from England. In order to do justice to a person, the Court allows that person to come in and be examined as to his title to the goods or property over which the Court has appointed Receiver in a proceeding between persons other than the said person. That is done so that no person may suffer because of any order that may be passed by the Court. It is the right in such a proceeding of that person who claims to be the owner of the goods or property to be examined as to his title to the said goods or property. It is in that sense a personal right of that person only. That person cannot in my opinion in such a proceeding ask the Court to examine some other person with regard to that person's right or title in the goods or property over which the Court has appointed a Receiver."
The ingredients required for the purpose of maintaining a pro interesse suo application, based on the observations made in Prema Gupta's case as quoted above, are present in the instant application.
As such, there shall be an order in terms of prayers (a) and (b) of the applicatio
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n. It is made clear that in the event the applicant succeeds, the receiver, who has taken possession of the one of the two assets in question, in terms of the order passed in AP No. 66 of 2014, shall return its possession to the applicant. Let this matter be heard finally, upon filing of affidavits. Accordingly, let affidavit-in-opposition be filed within a period of three weeks from date; reply, if any, a fortnight thereafter. List this matter under the heading, "Arbitration Motion Adjourned" in the monthly combined list of April, 2015.