Section 31(7) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, by using the words “unless otherwise agreed by the parties”, categorically specifies that the arbitrator is bound by the terms of the contract so far as award of interest from the date of cause of action to date of the award is concerned. Therefore, where the parties had agreed that no interest shall be payable, the Arbitral Tribunal cannot award interest.
In Union of India v. Saraswat Trading Agency, (2009) 16 SCC 504, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed in the said case that if there is a bar against payment of interest in the contract, the arbitrator cannot award any interest for such period. Union of India v. Bright Power Projects (I) Pvt. Ltd., 2015 (4) AWC 3862.
The grant of award of interest on arbitrable claims by the Arbitral Tribunal is not inherently illegal or against any public policy or per se bad in law or beyond the powers of the Arbitral Tribunal. In other words, it is permissible to award interest in arbitrable claims by the Arbitral Tribunal.
Indeed, Sections 31(7)(a) and (b) of the Act empower the Arbitral Tribunal to award interest on the awarded sum and secondly, it is always subject to the agreement between the parties.
It is a well settled principle in Arbitration Law that the award of an Arbitral Tribunal once passed is binding on the parties. The reason being that the parties having chosen their own arbitrator and given him authority to decide the specific disputes arising between them must respect his decision as far as possible and should not make any attempt to find fault in each issue decided by him only because it is decided against one party. It is only when the issue decided is found to be bad in law in the light of any of the specified grounds set out in Section 34 of the Act, the Court may consider it appropriate to interfere in the award else not. Union of India v. Susaka Pvt. Ltd., (2018) 2 SCC 182.