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Sixteen Supreme Court judges deliver 42 judgments as six of the 19 reserved judgments get delivered within the same week
The past week has been a frantic one for the Supreme Court, as it closed for the winter vacation starting December 18. While the general tendency in all the courts during this period is to adjourn hearings to a date after the vacation, the pressure to conclude arguments and deliver the judgments well in time is also very high.
At least two cases decided last week bordered on delay, if the time of two or three months after a bench reserves a judgment is taken as the reasonable time-limit in accordance with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Anil Rai case.
In Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha v M/s Prius Auto Industries Ltd & Ors., a trade mark case, Justice Ranjan Gogoi delivered the judgment on December 14, after the Bench also comprising Justice Navin Sinha had reserved it on August 23. In this case, the respondent, a partnership firm engaged in the manufacture of automobile spare parts, emerged victorious.
The plaintiff claimed that the company was the prior user of the trade mark, ‘Prius’, after it had launched the world’s first commercial hybrid car by the same name in different countries. The trademark was registered in Japan in 1990 and later in other jurisdictions. The car was released in India in 2009, but until then, the company had not obtained registration of the trademark in India.
Justice Gogoi held that there must be adequate evidence to show that the plaintiff had acquired substantial goodwill for its car under the brand name ‘Prius’ in the Indian market also. In 2001, there was limited online exposure, and information on the internet would not be a safe basis to hold the existence of the necessary goodwill and reputation of the product in the Indian market, he held.
Justice Gogoi authored another judgment in a trademark case, Royal Orchid Hotels Ltd. v Kamat Hotels (India) Ltd, in which a decision of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in favour of the appellant was reversed by the Delhi High Court. The Bench of Gogoi and Banumathi JJ found no reason to interfere with the High Court’s judgment.
Out of the total of 42 judgments, Justice Kurian Joseph tops the list, with five non-reportable judgments and two reportable ones. Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and DY Chandrachud delivered four each. Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre delivered three reportable and one non-reportable judgment. Justice Gogoi authored three, while Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar authored three non-reportable judgments.
Justices Madan B Lokur, Amitava Roy, Ashok Bhushan and R Banumathi authored two judgments each. Justice AK Sikri authored two reportable and one non-reportable judgment.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices RK Agrawal, L Nageswara Rao, J Chelameswar and AM Khanwilkar authored one each. Justices Sikri and Ashok Bhushan together authored one judgment.
Of the 19 judgments reserved by different benches last week, six were delivered within last week itself.
In Manish Kathuria and others v State of Punjab and others, a non-reportable judgment by Justice Kurian Joseph, horizontal reservation was justified under Article 142 of the Constitution.
In Prem Giri v State of Rajasthan, authored by Justice Sapre, it was held that a direction by a single judge of the Rajasthan High Court to deny anticipatory bail to an accused without judicial reasoning amounted to non-application of judicial mind. Justices RK Agrawal and Sapre remanded the case to the High Court for deciding the bail application afresh on its merits.
In Indian Oil Corporation Ltd v Shashi Prabha Shukla, authored by Justice Amitava Roy on behalf of himself and Justice NV Ramana, it was held that a public authority has to be fair, objective, non-arbitrary, transparent and non-discriminatory in it dealings. In this case, the appellant did not act in terms of the Delhi High Court’s judgment in initiating the fresh process of auction. The dealership of the respondent had been cancelled in 1997, but renewed under the prevalent policy in 2004.
The Bench directed IOC to initiate a fresh process for award of new distributorship/dealership, keeping the principles in mind. The Bench also directed holding of an in-house inquiry against the errant officials.
Lastly, in Sudama Singh & Ors v Deepak Mohan Spolia, authored by Justice Kurian Joseph on behalf of the bench also comprising Justice Roy, it was held that it is not required for all the affected parties in a public interest litigation to be petitioners.
In this case, slum dwellers of New Sanjay Camp in Delhi had approached the Delhi High Court seeking relocation and suitable alternative accommodation, as well as compensation for the loss caused by the arbitrary demolition of their jhuggis. The High Court denied the benefit of its judgment dated February 11, 2010, granting their prayers to all the affected persons, even though their names were furnished in the writ petitions in the form of annexures.
The Supreme Court, taking note of the fact that it is a class litigation, directed the respondents to implement the High Court’s judgment within three months, in the light of its clarification.