In an adversarial process, each party to a dispute presents its case to the natural adjudicator seeking to demonstrate the correctness of his own case and the wrongness of the other.
While an applicant in an application under Section 34 is interested in getting an order setting aside an award, his opponent is equally interested in ensuring that it is not set aside, but upheld. While an applicant presents his case to the Judge to prove that the award is liable to be set aside, the respondent puts forth his case to refute the claim of the applicant that the award is liable to be set aside. An application under Section 34 in that sense is adversarial in nature. But proceedings under Section 34 differ from regular civil suits in a significant aspect. In a regular civil suit, in the event of failure to file a defence, it will be lawful for the Court to pronounce the judgment on the basis of facts contained in the plaint (Vide Order VIII, Rule 5(2) of the Code). But in an application under Section 34, even if there is no contest, the Court cannot, on the basis of the averments contained in the application, set aside the award. Whether there is contest or not, the applicant has to prove one of the grounds set out in Section 34(2)(a) and (b). Even if the applicant does not rely upon the grounds under clause (b, the Court, on its own initiative, may examine the award to find out whether it is liable to be set aside on either of the two grounds mentioned in Section 34(2)(b). It is perhaps in this sense, the High Court has stated that the proceedings may not be adversarial. Be that as it may.