- Apprentice Lawyer
|With its vast and varied case-docket, the High Court of Delhi has occasion to pronounce verdicts on diverse subjects and myriad areas of law. This two-part monthly column attempts to offer a brief over- view of the important pronouncements of the High Court of Delhi over the period of the relevant month in review.
While an attempt has been made to ensure the widest possible coverage of the various judgments rendered, comprehensive analysis and critique of the individual judgments is eschewed for the sake of brevity.
In continuation of the judgments discussed in Part I of the column, below are the further judgments from the Delhi High Court for the month of October, segregated as per practice areas.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
While examining the question of the maintainability of an injunction action against the enforcement of an Order passed by a foreign Court by which the plaintiff before the Court in India had been barred from prosecuting its suit premised upon the infringement of its Standard Essential Patents by the defendant, the Court in Interdigital Technology Corporation v. Xiaomi Corporation, observed that the constitutional entitlement of a citizen to invoke the jurisdiction of a competent judicial forum cannot be set at naught by compelling the said party to withdraw or suspend a proceeding once the same has been filed.
The Court further observed that there could not be said to be a significant difference in substance between an anti-anti-suit injunction and an anti-enforcement injunction. The Court further observed that the principle of comity of Courts must always cede space to overarching needs of public policy and any Order of a foreign Court which directly negates the jurisdiction of an Indian Court and infringes the authority of the Court to exercise jurisdiction lawfully vested in it, could not be countenanced.
In CFA Institute v. Brickwork Finance Academy, the Court reiterated that the test as to the likelihood of confusion or deception arising from similarity of marks is the same in case of both infringement and passing off actions. The Court further observed that a case of deceptive similarity could not be said to be made out if it could be established prima-facie that the class of consumers who were desirous of pursuing certain academic programs were clearly able to differentiate between the programs being offered by the plaintiff and by the defendant.
In Bennet Coleman & Company Limited v. ARG Outlier Private Limited, the Court reiterated that once the defendant’s trademark is deceptively similar to that of the plaintiff, then the defendant could not seek to defeat an action for infringement by merely adding a word to the said mark. The Court, however, observed that when it was unclear whether a particular tagline was being used as a trademark or merely as a form of speech in the course of conducting proceedings on a news channel, then the said issue could only be looked into after the stage of evidence was complete and no interim injunction could be granted in this regard.
While noting that the rights of a registered trademark holder are not absolute and are subject to exceptions carved out to the infringement of trademarks, the Court in Delhivery Private Limited v. Treasure Vase Ventures Private Limited, observed that a registration granted to a phonetically generic word such as ‘Delhivery’ would not enure an absolute right in the trademark holder unless distinctiveness was also clearly established.
In P. M. Diesels Private Limited v. Thukral Mechanical Works, the Court held that an application for rectification of a trademark on account of non-use would not be maintainable if prior to the filing of the application in question, the registered proprietor of the trademark had assigned the same and the assignee had, in turn, acquired it for bona-fide use and actually used the same.
LABOUR AND SERVICE LAW
In Rohit Dabas v. Government of NCT of Delhi, the Court reiterated that in the absence of any provision for re-evaluation of answer sheets or for the supply of copies thereof, a case of grave injustice has to be made out for the Court to grant any relief in this regard. The Court further observed that a mere pleading that the petitioner expected to secure far more marks than what he/she had actually scored would not amount to a case of grave injustice.
In a similar vein, in Bhaskar Singh Chilwal v. Union of India, the Court observed that when the rules governing the examination in question did not provide for re-evaluation or for furnishing copies of the answer sheets, there cannot be said to be any inherent right for the petitioner to seek disclosure of the answer sheets or re-evaluation thereof. In relation to the aspect of re-evaluation, the Court observed that though the same may be actionable under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005, de-hors the same, no vested right can be said to be accrued to the candidates.
In Pardeep v. Director General, Railway Protection Force, the Court observed that merely because an order may have been issued asking a prospective candidate to proceed to the place of posting awaiting the formal declaration of results, such order would not vest any right if the candidate is subsequently found to be ineligible for recruitment as per the applicable rules.
While reiterating that the title to a section could not control the meaning of the words contained therein, the Court in Dharampal Singh v. Union of India, held that the mere fact that Section 11 in the Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949 was titled as ‘Minor Punishments’ would not mean that the said section could be treated as referring to minor punishments alone when there were clear textual indications to the contrary.
In Manish v. Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, the Court observed that inasmuch as the deputation of an employee requires the consent of the parent department/lending department, the borrowing department, and the employee concerned, the Court cannot sit in review and direct the extension of deputation if either of the departments were unwilling to consent to the said extension.
In Colonel Amit Kumar v. Union of India, the Court held that the Orders passed by the officers of the Armed Forces declining representations against proposed transfers are not required to mimic the judgments of Courts and it is sufficient that the basic reasons in support of the conclusion are clearly discernible.
While reiterating the bar against a claim founded on negative equality, the Court in Pandu Ranga v. Union of India observed that discrimination can only be claimed when the petitioner itself is demonstrated to have an inherent right which stands infringed by the vesting of the claimed benefit in favor of another person.
In S. S. Tyagi v. Ravindra Public School, the Court held that the provisions of Section 8(4) of the Delhi School Education Act and Rules, 1973 would apply to unaided educational institutes as well and accordingly the procedural safeguard of prior approval from the Department of Education for placing an employee under suspension could not be side-stepped.
In Swaminathan Subramanian v. Union of India through Department of Personnel and Training (Public Enterprises Selection Board), the Court reiterated that upon appointment to a post on an ex-cadre basis, the employee concerned is liable to be subsequently reverted to his substantive post and upon such reversion, the only entitlement available would be towards the protection of pay.
In Sanjay Kumar v. Union of India, the Court directed the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that the personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces who are entitled to certain relief on the basis of judgments in petitions filed by those similarly placed are not constrained to repeatedly approach the Courts and to ensure that the said relief should be granted to them at the departmental level itself.
In Rajesh Bahl v. Indraprastha Power Generation Company Limited, the Court observed that time-bound promotion schemes and vacancy-based promotion schemes stand on a completely different footing inasmuch as the former were intended to avoid stagnation due to lack of vacancies and the resulting loss of morale and demotivation of the employees concerned. The Court, therefore, held that an entitlement under a time-bound promotion scheme could not be held hostage to arbitrary administrative decisions seeking to postpone the filling of vacancies.
The Court in Arun Kumar v. Government of NCT of Delhi reiterated that unless an extraordinary circumstance or illegality was demonstrated, the Court would not entertain a writ petition on issues which were otherwise covered under Section 14 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.
As an example of such an extraordinary circumstance, the Court in Akul Bhargava v. Union Public Service Commission, held that where there was repeated litigation on the same issue over the past few years and the functioning of the concerned Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal was also sporadic in nature on account of the COVID-19 pandemic as also an arbitrary approach of the concerned authorities entailing severe debilitating consequences for the petitioners concerned was writ large on the record, then the Court could exercise writ jurisdiction.
The Court in Chander Rattan v. Delhi Transport Corporation observed that the mere fact that the attested and certified copies of documents were not supplied to the workmen when there was otherwise no cavil as regards their genuineness, would not by itself be a ground to set the entire proceedings at naught.
In Logitronics Private Limited v. Ramesh Kumar Sood, the Court reiterated that the doctrine of natural justice was an inbuilt requirement in standing orders and accordingly termination of services with immediate effect and without any notice would be unsustainable.
In Durable Doors and Windows v. Assistant P. F. Commissioner Gurugram, the Court reiterated that an Order for payment of damages under Section 14(B) of the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 could only be passed upon there being a clear finding of mens-rea on the part of the defaulter.
In Union Bank of India v. Rajinder Kumar Singhal, the Court observed that the appellate authority under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, could not have merely upheld the order of the controlling authority in a perfunctory manner without examining the respective contentions of the parties and the documents relied upon by them, particularly when it was demonstrated that the order of the controlling authority suffered from a fundamental error.
The Court in New Delhi Municipal Corporation v. Hari Ram Tiwari observed that inasmuch as the inquiry officer might have retired from service by the time the matter is actually scrutinized by the Labor Court, it cannot be said as a hard and fast rule that the non-production of the inquiry officer would be fatal to the case of the management, especially when the official records were produced by the management through other witnesses.
In Rakesh Kumar Assistant Director v. Union of India through its Secretary, the Court rejected the challenge to a transfer order while observing that it was based on a cogent premise of an ongoing inquiry against the petitioner which required him to be posted to a non-sensitive post during its pendency.
While refusing to interfere with an order of transfer, the Court in Sgt. Adesh Kumar v. Union of India observed that the standard plea of family problems which could be said to exist in every household cannot be utilized as a ground to challenge a transfer.
In Constable Satendra Kumar v. Union of India, the Court observed that postings of spouses are matters strictly falling within the realm of policy and unless the policy itself is under challenge, the Court would not ordinarily entertain grievances against decisions taken under the said policy.
In Madan Lal Srivastava v. Union of India, the Court rejected a belated challenge to an order of discharge from service as an abuse of process and noted that the allegation that the petitioner was suffering from poor mental health for a long period of time after the discharge was not supported by any cogent material.
In Inderjeet Singh v. Ministry of Railways, the Court held that rules and regulations which prescribe penal charges equivalent to the market rate for unauthorized occupation of official accommodation have proven to be an effective tool for getting rid of those in unauthorized occupation.
In Mahendra Singh v. Energy Efficiency Services Limited, the Court rejected a challenge to the terms of a recruitment advertisement on the ground that there was a huge unexplained delay of over a year in approaching the Court for the relief claimed.
In Shaheed Memorial society (Regd.) v. Promila Kishore, while reiterating that the period for limitation provided under Article 59 of the Limitation Act, 1963 (‘Limitation Act’) would commence only once a fraud was discovered in terms of Section 17 of the Limitation Act, the Court further observed that a bald plea that the fraud could have been discovered earlier if reasonable diligence had been exercised would not be sufficient to non-suit the plaintiff inasmuch as comprehensive knowledge of the fraud, both in terms of its commission as also in terms of the modus-operandi employed, would be necessary for a party to be able to maintain an action in relation to the same.
MATRIMONIAL DISPUTES, CUSTODY AND MAINTENANCE
In Karan Goel v. Kanika Goel, the Court reiterated that the question of domicile of the parties depends on their intention and that strong proof was required to establish that a person had abandoned the domicile of origin and had acquired a new domicile, and therefore the said question could ordinarily not be decided before the stage of leading of evidence.
The Court further observed that the contention that both the parties must be domiciled in India for a petition for divorce under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘HMA Act’) to be maintainable in India would lead to an unjust and incongruous result that if the wife were to be abandoned by her husband in a foreign country after their marriage then she would be forced to prosecute her case in the said foreign country where she might be completely lacking in financial and legal support.
In Rana Ghulam v. Naushaba Begum, the Court held that Section 50 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 does not bar the jurisdiction of a Civil Court if the rights of the deceased statutory tenant’s legal heirs had expired.
TAX, EXCISE AND CUSTOMS
In Ikea Trading (India) Private Limited v. Commissioner of Trade and Tax, Department of Trade and Taxes, the Court observed that the exercise of discretion in waiving the pre-condition of deposit of the demand under Section 76(4) of the Delhi Value Added Tax Act, 2004 would encompass a consideration of the prima-facie merits of the case, though a prima-facie case by itself may not entail sufficient justification in this regard. The Court observed that in the ultimate analysis, the Appellate Tribunal must be satisfied that the entire purpose of the appeal would be frustrated if recovery proceedings were allowed to continue during the pendency of the appeal.
While adjudicating upon a challenge to the power of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to impose property tax on structures erected for the display of advertisements through hoardings, the Court in Delhi International Airport (P) Limited v. South Delhi Municipal Corporation, held that if a structure in question was shown to be immobile and permanently affixed to the ground and it could not be moved except by the process of destroying the structure itself then the same would fall within the scope of a ‘building’ within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 and be amenable to tax. The Court further observed that the degree/mode of annexation and the object of annexation are both relevant factors while determining the true nature of the structure.
In Ambrane India Private Limited v. Union of India, the Court held that when the aspect as to whether a personal hearing was granted to the Petitioner before the Tribunal under the Customs Act, 1962 (‘Customs Act’) was itself a highly disputed question, then the only remedy available would be to file an appeal before the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal under Section 192A of the Customs Act and the direct invocation of writ jurisdiction was impermissible.
In Samsonite South Asia Private Limited v. Union of India, the Court expressed concern at the fact that the State Consumer Welfare Funds required to be established under the respective State GST Acts were neither operational nor functional till date.
TENDER AND BLACKLISTING
In E-Netspider India v. Union of India, the Court reiterated that an entity that has participated in a tender without demur cannot turn around and challenge the very provisions of the said tender upon being unsuccessful in the same.
Dr. Amit George is an Advocate practicing before the High Court of Delhi.
The author would like to place on record his appreciation for the assistance provided by Mr. Amol Acharya, Mr. Bharat Rayadurgam and Mr. Piyo Harold Jaimon, Advocates.