On Friday (November 13, 2020), the Bombay High Court dismissed the writ petitions filed by toll operator infrastructure companies seeking directions to provide for a dispute resolution mechanism through Arbitration regarding contracts they entered into with Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC).
Writ petitions were filed by M/s.MEP RGSL Toll Bridge Pvt. Ltd. (MEPRGSL) and Raima Toll & Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
There was no relation between these two contracts, as the cause of action is common, the petitions were tagged together.
Both the petitioners are stated to be 'Special Purpose Vehicles' of one MEP Infrastructure Developers Limited (MEPIDPL).
Senior Advocate Dr.Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared on behalf of the petitioners and Senior Advocate Dr.Milind Sathe for respondents.
The petitioners were beneficiaries of 'toll contracts' awarded by MSRDC, which were at different locations and for different periods.
The contract period was to be of 3 years commencing from February 6, 2014 and to end on February 1, 2017.
The contract period in regard to both these contracts had long expired.
The first petitioner's contract with Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited had come to an end but it still asked the petitioner to pay Rs.16.86 crores as the petitioner's revenue share as per the contract.
As per the dispute resolution clause, as contained in the agreement, a committee comprising of the Legal, Accounts and Engineering Division was formed but they did not accept the objections of the petitioner.
Petitioners have contended that the State Government has provided for an "Institutional Arbitration Policy", as a preferred mode of dispute resolution in respect of Government contracts.
Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni heard the petition.
The Court observed that the contracting freedom and the free consent of the parties, to have mutually agreed terms in a contract is not to be interfered with.
The Court can not exercising writ jurisdiction to re-write or vary the terms and conditions of the contract.
The writ petition was accordingly dismissed by the court and the cost of Rs.5 Lakhs each petitioner was ordered to be deposited with the Tata Cancer Hospital within two weeks from the date of the order passed.