High-priced arbitrator disqualified
An arbitrator who charges fees beyond that prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and the concerned high court incurs disqualification, the Rajasthan High Court ruled in its order in the case, Doshion Ltd vs Hindustan Zinc Ltd. In this case, a retired high court judge demanded ~75 lakh as fees. Doshion protested against this rate, while the rival public sector firm had no objection. Then the arbitrator reduced his demand to ~50 lakh, calling it a ‘discount’ and ‘benevolence’. The aggrieved firm moved a writ petition in the high court. It held that the arbitrator has become legally disqualified by demanding fee beyond that set under the law. The high court stated that the demand made by the arbitrator would cause doubt in the mind of a party regarding prejudice against it. It would also cast a shadow on the impartiality of the proceedings before the arbitral tribunal. The court ordered the replacement of the arbitrator.