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HC Asks Bank to Ensure Rs 1.8 Crore Balance in Afghan Embassy's Account for Arbitral Award

The court said in case of any exigency, judgment debtor, the embassy, is at liberty to approach the court before the next date of hearing on September 13. (File photo: PTI)

The court said in case of any exigency, judgment debtor, the embassy, is at liberty to approach the court before the next date of hearing on September 13. (File photo: PTI)

The court said in case of any exigency, judgment debtor, the embassy, is at liberty to approach the court before the next date of hearing on September 13.

The Delhi High Court has directed Kotak Mahindra Bank to ensure that the total minimum balance in three accounts of the Embassy of Afghanistan shall not be less than Rs 1.8 crore, the arbitral award passed in favour of a firm, keeping in view the prevalent political situation there. The court said in case of any exigency, judgment debtor, the embassy, is at liberty to approach the court before the next date of hearing on September 13.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait issued notice to the embassy on a plea by decree holder KLA Const Technologies Pvt Ltd seeking attachment of its movable and immovable assets over the apprehension of execution of award due to the collapse of Afghanistan and rapid take-over of the country by Taliban. The high court noted that the arbitral award pertained to 2018 and despite this year's June 18 directions of the high court, the embassy’s counsel was unable to disclose its assets and pleaded he has no instructions.

…the fact that the prevalent political situation in Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is not clear, this court is left with no option but to take on record the details of assets of judgment debtors so furnished on behalf of decree holder in the present application, the court said in its order passed on Monday. The court said it was conscious of the fact that Special Leave Petition (SLP) against the June 18 judgment is pending before the Supreme Court and to safeguard the interest of decree holder, it directed Kotak Mahindra Bank to ensure that the total minimum balance amount in three accounts of the embassy, shall not be less than Rs 1.80 crore.

Advocates Amit George and K K Shukla, appearing for the decree holder, submitted that in view of collapse of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and rapid take-over of the country by Taliban, execution of the award has come under clouds and for this reason, the application has been filed seeking attachment of accounts of judgment debtors. Advocates Raghvendra M Bajaj, Ejaz Maqbool and Garima Bajaj, representing the Afghanistan Embassy, submitted that the SLP against the June 18 judgment of the high court came up for hearing before the Supreme Court on August 19 and in view of the fact that judgment debtor has no instructions, the same has been deferred for six weeks.

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He said he has no instructions in the present case and prayed for two weeks' time. The submission was opposed by the counsel for decree holder on the ground that in the present scenario prevalent in Afghanistan, the firm may not be able to recover the awarded amount and, therefore, the bank accounts of the embassy be attached so that funds can be utilised for recovery in present proceedings.

The high court said by its June 18 judgement, the November 26, 2018 award was held to be maintainable and the respondent was granted four weeks' time to deposit the arbitral award. Further, a direction was also given to respondent to file affidavit of assets on the date of the cause of action, date of the award as well as on the date of passing of the judgment within 30 days but none of the directions have been complied with.

The court also asked the counsel for the embassy to obtain instructions to assist it on the next date of hearing.

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first published:August 24, 2021, 23:25 IST