Ex-judges want high arbitration fee: Govt
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The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday approached the Delhi High Court against the "excessive... exorbitant" fee being charged by retired judges appointed as arbitrators in a dispute.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher did not pass an order on the plea and asked the government to move the arbitration tribunal regarding the fee. "Litigation costs are high not only because of the fee of the arbitral tribunal but also because of the fee paid to lawyers and other costs," he said.
In 2010, the Ministry entered into an agreement with three companies to manufacture and supply swine flu vaccine by December 2011. But there was a dispute later over the delivery of the vaccine. The government claimed that the companies had not supplied the vaccine as scheduled but the companies maintained that the government had not taken delivery of the vaccine. The government filed a plea to claim refund of Rs 10 crore paid in advance to the three companies.
The matter was referred for arbitration. Two retired judges of the Supreme Court and a former High Court judge were nominated as arbitrators.
The government has now objected to the fee being asked by the judges, and the fact that the three companies have not paid equal fee.
"The fee rates are exorbitant even by the standards of the high court arbitration centre," the government stated.
Appearing for the government, Additional Solicitor General Rajive Mehra said arbitration proceedings were only in the initial stages, and the tribunal was considering the issue of jurisdiction.
"They have had six sittings and demanded Rs 18 lakh for the sittings. If the companies refuse to pay, then we have to pay Rs 36 lakh," Mehra said, adding that the cost of the entire case would then go up to several crore rupees, though the money to be recovered from the companies was only Rs 30 crore.