Govt Seeks 60 More Days To File Dabhol Defence

Financial Express, India

16 September 2004

Govt Seeks 60 More Days To File Dabhol Defence


NEW DELHI, SEPT 15: The government of India (GoI) has sought a 60-day extension from the Arbitral Tribunal in London for filing a defence statement after GE blocked the appointment of Evershed as India’s new solicitor firm in the UK.

A letter seeking extension along with the reasons that led to the delay was sent on Wednesday afternoon by Fox and Mandal to the Lords of Appeal Corridor, London, and the International Court of Justice, Netherlands. Fox and Mandal is the lawyer firm assisting GoI in the arbitration proceedings initiated against it by GE and Bechtel under the Indo-Mauritius Bilateral Investment Treaty.

The inter-ministerial group constituted by the Centre on revival of Dabhol is also scheduled to meet on Thursday to co-ordinate the approach on arbitration.

Amongst other reasons, GoI has held GE responsible for the delay in filing its defence statement. It has said, following DLA’s replacement by Evershed, the latter had assured the government it would be able to meet the deadline.

“However, sometime late on Monday (Sept 13), GE communicated orally to Evershed that it had blocked its ability to act for the government.

The same was then communicated through email at 1.30 am on September 14 by GE to Counsel Khawar Qureshi. In view of the attitude adopted by GE, filing of the statement of defence may now take sometime,” the letter adds.

The government has, however, assured the Arbitral Tribunal that it will be able to adhere to the hearing to be held in July 2005 once the deadline is extended. Other reasons cited for the delay include a change in the government in India during May this year, appointment of a new Attorney General in June, change of the entire lawyer team appointed by the former AG and also late procurement of relevant documents from the Maharashtra government, Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) and DLA.

In fact, the government has said that until a replacement to Eversheds was found, it would be impossible to provide the Tribunal with an accurate assesment as to when the defence statement could be filed.