Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A writ petition was entertained by Manoj K. Tiwari, J. where the petitioner was aggrieved by the order passed by the Appellate Court, where it set aside the status quo passed by the learned trial court. 

The Court observed the appellate jurisdiction over the original jurisdiction of the Courts and noted that, grant of temporary injunction was discretionary and appellate court should not interfere with such discretion of court of first instance except where discretion had been shown to exercised arbitrarily or capriciously or perversely or where the court had ignored the settled principles of law regulating grant or refusal of interlocutory injunctions, as held by the Supreme Court in Esha Ekta Appartments CHS Ltd. v. Municipal Corporation of Mumbai, (2012)4 SCC 689. It was also observed that the appellate courts when called upon to consider the correctness of an order of injunction passed by the trial courts which had reversed the order of lower courts, the Supreme Court had held that, “In such appeals, the appellate court will not interfere with the exercise of discretion of the court of first instance and substitute its own discretion except where the discretion has been shown to have been exercised arbitrarily, or capriciously or perversely or where the court had ignored the settled principles of law regulating grant or refusal of interlocutory injunctions. 

‘An appeal against exercise of discretion was said to be an appeal on principle. Appellate court doesn’t reassess the material and seek to reach a conclusion different from the one reached by the court below if the one reached by that court was reasonably possible on the material. The appellate court would normally not be justified in interfering with the exercise of discretion under appeal solely on the ground that if it had considered the matter at the trial stage it would have come to a contrary conclusion. If the discretion had been exercised by the trial court reasonably and in a judicial manner the fact that the appellate court took a different view may not justify interference with the trial court’s exercise of discretion.’

Hence, the Court stated that scope of interference by the appellate court with the court that passed the order of temporary injunction was limited and in any case, two views were available then the view taken by the court of the first instance had to be maintained. 

But Court while examining the instant petition noticed that the appellate court had not assigned any reason for disturbing the discretionary order passed by the trial court. It was also observed that in Maharwal Khejwaji Trust v. Baldev Dass, (2004) 8 SCC 488, the Supreme Court had held that “unless and until a case of irreparable loss or damage is made out by a party to the suit, the court should not permit a change of the said status quo, which may lead to loss or damage being caused to the party who may ultimately succeed and may further lead to multiplicity of proceedings.” 

It was observed by the Court that trial court had considered three major points while passing the order was balance of convenience, prima facie case and irreparable loss to the parties, it indicated that the trial court was justified in directing the parties to maintain status quo in order to maintain and preserve property. 

Thus, the petition was allowed and the order of the appellate court was set aside. [Ashok Kumar v. Pramil Kumar, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 855, decided on 02-09-2019] 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, JJ was called upon to decide whether the existence of an alternate remedy would create a bar on High Court’s writ jurisdiction, it held,

“The existence of an alternate remedy, whether adequate or not, does not alter the fundamentally discretionary nature of the High Court’s writ jurisdiction and therefore does not create an absolute legal bar on the exercise of the writ jurisdiction by a High Court.”

Explaining that the court added that courts had themselves imposed certain constraints on the exercise of their writ jurisdiction to ensure that the jurisdiction did not become an appellate mechanism for all disputes within a High Court’s territorial jurisdiction, the bench said,

“The intention behind this self-imposed rule is clear. If High Courts were to exercise their writ jurisdiction so widely as to regularly override statutory appellate procedures, they would themselves become inundated with a vast number of cases to the detriment of the litigants in those cases.”

This would also defeat the legislature’s intention in enacting statutory appeal mechanisms to ensure the speedy disposal of cases.

On the argument that if, by the self-imposed rule, the writ jurisdiction of High Courts is circumscribed by the existence of a suitable alternate remedy, whether constitutional, statutory, or contractual, then a High Court should not exercise its writ jurisdiction where such an alternate remedy exists, the bench said that it is a misconceived argument and that,

“The mere existence of alternate forums where the aggrieved party may secure relief does not create a legal bar on a High Court to exercise its writ jurisdiction. It is a factor to be taken into consideration by the High Court amongst several factors.”

[Maharashtra Chess Association v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 932, decided on 29.07.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the appeal against the order of the High Court where it refused to issue mandamus to the Central Government directing the Central Government to issue a notification under Section 11C of the Central Excise Act, 1944 to the effect that duty payable by the appellant on goods manufactured by it shall not be paid, the Court said that where the statute vests a discretionary power in an administrative authority, the Court would not interfere with the exercise of such discretion unless it is made with oblique end or extraneous purposes or upon extraneous considerations, or arbitrarily, without applying its mind to the relevant considerations, or where it is not guided by any norms which are relevant to the object to be achieved.

The appellants had contended that excise duty on the goods manufactured by the appellant i.e. Rosin/Turpentine, is, otherwise, payable in law, however, insofar as the history of payment of excise on these goods is concerned, record shows that vide notification No. 179/77-CE dated 18.06.1977, the Central Government had exempted all goods, falling under Item No.68 of erstwhile First Schedule to the Central Government Excise and Salt Act, 1944 in or relation to the manufacturing of such goods where no process is ordinarily carried on with the aid of power, from the whole of the duty of excise leviable thereon. Hence, recovering excise duty from the appellants violates their rights under Article 14 or Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Rejecting the said contention, the Court held that it would neither be a case of discrimination nor it can be said that the appellants have any right under Article 14 or Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution which has been violated by non-issuance of notification under Section 11C of the Act. Once the appellant accepts that in law it was liable to pay the duty, even if some of the units have been able to escape payment of duty for certain reasons, the appellant cannot say that no duty should be recovered from it by invoking Article 14 of the Constitution. It is well established that the equality clause enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution is a positive concept and cannot be applied in the negative.

The Bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, said that when ‘power’ is given to the Central Government to issue a notification to the effect not to recover duty of excise or recover lesser duty than what is normally payable under the Act, for deciding whether to issue such a Notification or not, there may be various considerations in the mind of the Government. Merely because conditions laid in the said provisions are satisfied, would not be a reason to necessarily issue such a notification. It is purely a policy matter. [Mangalam Organics Ltd. v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 461, decided on 24.04.2017]