Developing Ravva fields: SC upholds foreign tribunal award in favour of Vedanta

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the foreign arbitration tribunal award in favour of Vedanta Ltd (formerly Cairn India Ltd) and Videocon Industries Ltd to recover $476 million from the government, instead of $198 million capped by it, for developing Ravva oil and gas fields.

In a set back to the Centre, the top court rejected its appeal against the February 19 order of the Delhi High Court saying that it has not made out a case of violation of procedural due process in the conduct of the arbitral proceedings.

A bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer, Indu Malhotra and Aniruddha Bose said the Centre has not made out a case as to how the award is in conflict with the basic notions of justice, or in violation of the substantive public policy of India.

“We conclude that the enforcement of the foreign award does not contravene the public policy of India, or that it is contrary to the basic notions of justice,” the bench said, while upholding the high court verdict.

The top court vacated the interim orders of status quo on June 17 and July 22 and held that “the award dated January 18, 2011 passed by the tribunal is held to be enforceable in accordance with the provisions of Sections 47 and 49 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996”.

The bench said the Centre was aggrieved by the interpretation taken by the tribunal with respect to provision of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) and its other sub-clauses.

“The interpretation of the terms of the PSC lies within the domain of the tribunal. It is not open for the Appellants to impeach the award on merits before the enforcement court. The enforcement court cannot re-assess or re-appreciate the evidence led in the arbitration,” the top court said.