Supreme Court in Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. vs. S.P.S. Engineering Ltd.[ (2011) 3 S.C.C. 507 ]
“14. To find out whether a claim is barred by res judicata, or whether a claim is “mala fide”, it will be necessary to examine the facts and relevant documents.
What is to be decided in an application under Section 11 of the Act is whether there is an arbitration agreement between the parties. The Chief Justice or his designate is not expected to go into the merits of the claim or examine the tenability of the claim, in an application under Section 11 of the Act.
The Chief Justice or his designate may however choose to decide whether the claim is a dead (long-barred) claim or whether the parties have, by recording satisfaction, exhausted all rights, obligations and remedies under the contract, so that neither the contract nor the arbitration agreement survived. When it is said that the Chief Justice or his designate may choose to decide whether the claim is a dead claim, it is implied that he will do so only when the claim is evidently and patently a long time-barred claim and there is no need for any detailed consideration of evidence. We may elucidate by an illustration: if the contractor makes a claim a decade or so after completion of the work without referring to any acknowledgment of a liability or other factors that kept the claim alive in law, and the claim is patently long time-barred, the Chief Justice or his designate will examine whether the claim is a dead claim (that is, a long time-barred claim). On the other hand, if the contractor makes a claim for payment, beyond three years of completing of the work but say within five years of completion of work, and alleges that the final bill was drawn up and payments were made within three years before the claim, the Court will not enter into a disputed question whether the claim was barred by limitation or not. The Court will leave the matter to the decision of the Tribunal. If the distinction between apparent and obvious dead claims, and claims involving disputed issues of limitation is not kept in view, the Chief Justice or his designate will end up deciding the question of limitation in all applications under Section 11 of the Act.” ( emphasis supplied)