As can be seen from Section 2 (c) and Section 31 (6), except for stating that an arbitral award includes an interim award, the Act is silent and does not define what an interim award is. Section 31(6) of the Act delineates the scope of interim arbitral awards and states that the arbitral Tribunal may make an interim arbitral award on any matter with respect to which it may make a final arbitral award.
The language of Section 31(6) is advisedly wide in nature. A reading of the said sub-section makes it clear that the jurisdiction to make an interim arbitral award is left to the good sense of the arbitral Tribunal, and that it extends to “any matter” with respect to which it may make a final arbitral award. The expression “matter” is wide in nature and subsumes issues at which the parties are in dispute. It is clear, therefore, that any point of dispute between the parties which has to be answered by the Arbitral Tribunal can be the subject matter of an interim arbitral award. However, by dealing with the matter in a piecemeal fashion, what must be borne in mind is that the resolution of the dispute as a whole will be delayed and parties will be put to additional expense. The Arbitral Tribunal should, therefore, consider whether there is any real advantage in delivering interim awards or in proceeding with the matter as a whole and delivering one final award, bearing in mind the avoidance of delay and additional expense.
To complete the scheme of the Act, Section 32(1) is also material. It goes on to state that the arbitral proceedings would be terminated only by the final arbitral award, as opposed to an interim award, thus making it clear that there can be one or more interim awards, prior to a final award, which conclusively determines some of the issues between the parties, culminating in a final arbitral award which ultimately decides all remaining issues between the parties. M/s IFFCO v. M/s Bhadra Products, 2018 (129) ALR 927.