Terming as “very unfortunate,” the Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on PSU Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) for “insulting” the arbitrators, appointed by it to decide a commercial dispute, by not paying the fees fixed by them and sought the help of Attorney General to resolve it.
In a consent order, the top court, on January 4, had appointed Justice Jai Narayan Patel, former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Justice Shivax Jal Vazifdar, former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court as to arbitrators to decide a dispute between M/s Schlumberger Asia Services Ltd and ONGC.
Later, Justice S C Dharmadhikari, former judge of the Bombay High Court was appointed as one of the arbitrators after Justice Vazifdar recused himself from the matter and the apex court had ordered that the “fee shall be decided by the Arbitrators and borne equally by all the parties”.
“What do you think of yourself? This is very unfortunate that you are insulting former judges by not paying the fees as decided by them as per our order. You have a lot of egos. Is this the way you treat judges?
“We are watching this ONGC, Public sector undertakings. Because you have a lot of money, you keep filing frivolous proceedings. We will issue suo motu contempt notice against you. Please ask the AG (Attorney General) to appear today in this matter and send a letter to him,” a visibly irked Chief Justice N V Ramana, who was heading a three-judge bench, told the counsel of the ONGC at the outset of the hearing.
The bench passed over the matter and took it up again when Attorney General K K Venugopal appeared virtually before it.