Can a court, on an action brought by one of the parties to an arbitration agreement, refer the parties to arbitration on its own? The Madras High Court said no. Its reasons:
- Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“ACA”) gives power to the court to refer the parties to arbitration, but only when its ingredients are fulfilled.
- One of the ingredients requires that an application to refer the matter to arbitration should be made by the respondent/defendant, who is “a party to the arbitration agreement or any person claiming through or under him.”
- Under Section 8 ACA, ouster of the court’s jurisdiction is only by choice of the defending party.