Reed Smith Client Alerts

Key takeaways

  • Indian Supreme Court exercised special jurisdiction to review merits of award and to overturn it on grounds that it resulted in “miscarriage of justice”
  • This approach contrasts with limited scope of judicial review of arbitral awards typically undertaken, where courts generally avoid reexamining the merits
  • By exercising special jurisdiction to overturn award on the merits, the decision may embolden future merits challenges to final arbitration awards and may undermine India’s efforts to promote itself as a safe arbitral seat

Autores: James P. Duffy IV Niyati Ahuja Megan E. McWaters


In Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. v. Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd., 2024 INSC 292, the Indian Supreme Court (“Indian Supreme Court”) recently invalidated an arbitral award for patent illegality that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (DMRC) obtained against the Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd. (DAMEPL) in an Indian-seated arbitration over the construction of a rail line (“Delhi Metro”). The Delhi Metro decision is important for international arbitration practitioners because it not only (a) reversed a prior Indian Supreme Court ruling upholding the award but also (b) demonstrated that Indian courts will review the merits of an award when deemed necessary to address perceived substantive errors.


The Delhi Metro decision arose out of a 2008 agreement between DMRC and DAMEPL to build, operate and maintain a rail line at the Delhi airport. DMRC was in charge of land acquisition and civil structures, while DAMEPL managed the design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of the railway systems. DAMEPL had the exclusive right to run the project as a commercial enterprise.