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Injunction denied in patent case 2020-01-20

The Delhi High Court last week rejected two applications moved by Astrazeneca AB against Emcure Pharmaceuticals in a patent suit involving a medicine for antiplatelet treatment for Acute Coronary Syndrome. The name of the compound is Ticagrelor. Astrazeneca uses the names Brilinta and Axcer for its compound and the Indian company uses the brand names Ticaplat and Tiare for its product. The former claimed enhan­ced efficiency for its compound, while the latter maintained that there was little innovation in it. The high court observed that though Astrazeneca has presented prima facie case in its favour, the patent had expired last month and Emcure has already launched its rival product. Therefore, pending the final decision, the court did not pass an injunction.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 20, 2020

Award cannot wait until IBC decision 2020-01-20

The Calcutta High Court has stated that an application to set aside an arbitral award under the Arbitration Act could not be kept in abeyance by reason of the provision of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) being invoked by operational creditors against the debtor. In the judgment, Sirpur Paper Mills vs I K Merchants, the mills prayed for setting aside the award and pointed out that corporate insolvency proceedings under the IBC have been initiated against it as a corporate debtor. The mill has been taken over by JK Paper, which was the Resolution Applicant before the NCLT. The high court ruled that there was no basis for relegating the appeal under the Arbitration Act to the backburner. “In this case, the mills being the corporate debtor/award debtor it cannot be permitted to take refuge under the provisions of the IBC for relegating the claim of the award-holder to limbo for an indefinite period of time,” the judgment said.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 20, 2020

Late-coming landowners lose benefit 2020-01-20

Those whose land was acquired for a project cannot slumber over their right to compensation under the Land Acquisition Act and then claim interest on the awarded amount. In this case, Executive Engineer vs State of Maharashtra, while one group of land-losers had received enhanced compensation granted by the Bombay High court, the other group came forward five-and-a-half year later. The high court condoned the delay and then asked the authorities to pay interest on the delayed compensation. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal of the authorities in part. While asking them to pay the enhanced amount it quashed the high court order to pay interest on it. The judgment emphasised: “The project executive, who is a public autho­rity, cannot be saddled with the liability to pay interest for the period of delay, which is not at all attributed to it.”

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 20, 2020

Liquor vendor allowed to shift 650 km 2020-01-20

The Supreme Court set aside the judgment of the Madras High Court and allowed a wholesaler in Indian Made Foreign Liquor to shift his business from Mahe on the western coast to Karaikal on the eastern coast 650 km away. The shifting was caught in litigation with some residents in Karaikal objecting to the permission granted by the authorities under the Puducherry excise law. They argued that shifting of the shop was contrary to the public interest of the residents of Karaikal. For about 35 houses in Nedunkadu circle, Karaikal, there were 35 liquor shops already operational. Moreover, they argued that the Supreme Court had banned shops 500 m from highways. They moved the Madras High Court. The court allowed the petition in its judgment, M/s CEE CEE & CEE vs K. Devamani. The dealer moved the Supreme Court. It ruled that the excise rules of the Union Territory spread over four unconnected places in south India allowed shifting business, wholesale or retail. The judgment listed a number of shops that had shifted to Karaikal from other regions for better revenue. The court allowed the relocation subject to the conditions set by the excise authorities. The court added two of its own -- there should be a common entrance and exit; the boundary should be properly protected.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 20, 2020

Indian Bank indicted for negligence 2020-01-20

The Supreme Court has directed Indian Bank to pay Rs 25 lakh as compensation to a DAV Public School in West Bengal for negligence leading to heavy loss to the school. The school’s bank accounts were without net banking facility. But when the principal opened a savings net banking account for transferring funds to the three school accounts, it was found that Rs 25 lakh was unauthorisedly transferred from the school accounts. The matter was reported to the bank which took one day to check the transactions. By then more money disappeared. Moreover, it was found that a duplicate SIM card was used to transfer money. The state consumer commission and the National Commission found loopholes in the story and granted only Rs 1 lakh as compensation. On appeal, the Supreme Court pointed out that the bank linked the school accounts to that of the principal without any request from the school. Therefore, neither the school nor the principal was responsible for the loss and the bank should compensate the school.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 20, 2020

Earning heirs entitled to compensation 2020-01-20

In motor accident claims, even employed sons and married daughters can apply for compensation for the death of their working mother, the Supreme Court ruled in its judgment last week in the case National Insurance Company vs Birender. Though they are not strictly “dependents” of their employed mother who died in a road accident, they are “legal representatives” according to Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The woman, in this case, died when a dumper hit the motorbike while riding pillion on way to her government office. The two sons filed a claim petition. The insurance company resisted it on several grounds but the main ground was that the sons were earning wages and were not dependent upon the income of their mother. The case traveled from the tribunal to the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Supreme Court. Finally, the apex court declared that even though the sons were earning wages, and married, they were entitled to compensation as legal representatives of their mother. The court asserted that the liability of the insurance company does not cease because of the absence of dependency of the concerned legal representatives. The compensation constitutes part of the “estate” of the deceased. As a result, the legal representatives of the deceased would inherit the estate.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 20, 2020

SBI loses mortgaged land titles 2020-01-13

The National Consumer Commission has dismissed the appeal of State Bank of India, which had lost title deeds mortgaged with it for granting a loan to a businessman. The bank was told to pay Rs5 lakh for deficiency in service. SBI had offered to give a certified copy of the documents to Amitesh Mazumdar, provide a document admitting the loss of the title deeds, and publish the loss in newspapers. However, the commission pointed out that all these steps would not be enough if the man tries to sell the property. “No one will agree to purchase an immovable property on payment of its prevailing market value if he knows that the original title deed will not be delivered to him by the seller. There will always be an apprehension of the misuse of the deeds by an unscrupulous person by depositing it with a bona fide lender. The compensation may not be sufficient to make up such erosion in the market value of the property,” the judgment explained.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 13, 2020

ONGC appeal against award dismissed 2020-01-13

The Bombay High Court has dismissed the appeal of Oil & Natural Gas Corporation challenging the arbitral award against it in its dispute with CGG Services. The public sector company had hired the services of the French company, which specialises in land and marine acquisition of geophysical data worldwide. Disputes arose over payment and the three-member arbitration panel gave its award in favour of the French firm, especially on the hotly contested question of minimum guaranteed work. ONGC appealed to the high court to quash the award, without success. The high court recited the principles for setting aside an award namely, if it is contrary to the fundamental policy of Indian law, or the interest of India, or justice or morality. The judgment emphasised that the tribunal acted fairly and there was no illegality which can be said to go to the root of the matter.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 13, 2020

No-fault liability in road accidents 2020-01-13

In case of death because of a collision between two motor vehicles, both sides and their insurers should be made parties to the compensation claim before the tribunal. Otherwise, the damages might be lower. In the judgment of the Supreme Court, Ramkhiladi vs United India Insurance Co last week, the wife of a deceased motorcyclist filed a claim only against the insurer of the vehicle and not the owner of the other bike that collided and caused her husband’s death. The widow invoked Section 163A of the Motor Vehicles Act under which compensation can be claimed without ascertaining the blame on all involved. She did not move against the owner or driver of the bike. The insurer argued that the deceased was not a third party entitled to compensation as he had borrowed the vehicle and according to the policy, he stood in the shoes of the owner. The tribunal gave an award in her favour but the Rajasthan High Court quashed it. On appeal, the Supreme Court granted Rs1 lakh to the woman, who had claimed Rs5 lakh according to the amended law. The court clarified that the amendment raising the amount was made later than the date of the accident.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 13, 2020

Bank guarantee must be complied with 2020-01-13

If the demand to encash the bank guarantee is in terms of the contract, it is not open for a bank to determine whether the invocation was justified. It cannot decide on its own whether there was a fraud, irretrievable injustice or special equities, the Supreme Court stated in its judgment, Standard Chartered Bank vs Heavy Engineering Corporation. The dispute arose with regard to two bank guarantees furnished on behalf of Simon Carves India by the bank in favour of the corporation “as advance against supply of plant and equipment”. Simon failed to supply equipment and the work had to be abandoned causing huge losses. Therefore, the corporation demanded the encashment of the guarantees. When the bank refused, the dispute reached the Calcutta High Court, which allowed the encashment. The bank’s appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court, which stated in the absence of fraud or irretrievable injustice, “it is not even open for the court to interfere with the encashment of the bank guarantee.”

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 13, 2020

Pre-deposit in cheque cases valid 2020-01-13

A stay on the sentence of punishment for issuing a cheque without sufficient balance in the bank account can be subjected to a condition to pay part of the amount, the Supreme Court stated last week in its judgment, Surinder Singh vs Virender. Surinder and another person were partners in an infrastructure firm, along with Virender. Virender retired later. The firm issued 64 cheques to Virender as retirement dues. All of them bounced, leading to 28 complaints before the magistrate. The two partners were convicted and sentenced to two-year imprisonment. They were also asked to pay the full dues. The drawers of the cheque appealed to the sessions judge and sought a stay on the punishment. It was granted on condition that 25 per cent of the compensation was paid. It was not paid and they moved the high court and later the Supreme Court without success. Then there was a second round of litigation; again their appeals were dismissed by the Supreme Court affirming the sentence.

Source: Business Standard, Mumbai Edition, January 13, 2020

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