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A Division Bench of the Delhi HC just termed a single-judge decision a “futile ‘academic’ exercise”

Aditya AK

A Division Bench of the Delhi Court comprising Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva JJ. has  come down heavily on a single judge decision of the same High Court. Terming the single judge’s order as an “unnecessary pursuit”, the Division Bench expressed difficulties in comprehending why the single judge chose to go against a judgment passed by them earlier this year.

The case pertains to a trademark and copyright infringement suit filed against a law firm called Ghari Trademark Company. The plaintiffs alleged that the Ghari/Ghadi label was registered under the Trade Marks Act, 1999. It was also alleged that the defendant law firm was guilty of infringement by “conducting, soliciting, rendering the impugned services under the impugned trade name”.

When the matter came before the single judge, it was held that the plaint was liable to be returned under Order 7 Rule 10 CPC, as the High Court did not have territorial jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

In doing so, the single judge also pointed out that due to overflowing dockets, “courts are not obliged to turn a blind eye to frivolous pleas and to swallow unfounded averments”. [Read Single Bench judgment]

However, the Division Bench noted that the single judge’s observations were contrary to the High Court’s decision in Ultra Home Construction Private Limited v. Purushottam Kumar Chaubey and Others. The verdict in that case was rendered by this very same Division Bench on January 20 this year.

In the present case, the DB held,

“Instead of following the said decision and accepting the same, the learned Single Judge has from paragraphs 49 to 67 of the impugned judgment criticized the same and differed with the said decision. This, the learned Single Judge, could not have done and was required to follow the said Division Bench‘s decision in Ultra Home (supra) without demur.”

Therefore, the Division Bench found the single judge’s findings to be wrong and set aside the order, but not without taking a barb or two. While chiding the single judge for not following protocol, the DB concluded its judgment by saying,

“Lastly, and with some anguish, we may observe that we find it difficult to comprehend as to why the learned Single Judge went to such lengths so as to devote 18 paragraphs spanning from page 29 to page 43 of the impugned judgment to record his difference of opinion with the decision in Ultra Home (supra) when, according to the learned Single Judge himself, the so-called difference of opinion did not come in his way in deciding the present case as it had no relevance, according to him, to the present case.

Such an unnecessary pursuit and adventure has been undertaken by the learned Single Judge while at the same time the learned Single Judge rued over the fact of overflowing dockets and heavy workloads of courts. Why was such a fruitless and futile ‘academic‘ exercise undertaken by the learned Single Judge? This would remain a mystery?

The plaintiffs/appellants were represented by a group of counsel including Akhil Sibal. Senior Counsel Kirti Uppal appeared for the respondents.

Editor’s note: The original article had wrongly attributed the single-bench decision. The error is deeply regretted, and stands corrected. 

Read the Division Bench judgment below.

BDA03082016FAOOS1452016.pdf
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