Bureaucratic delay - No more a ground for seeking condonation of delay by State and public bodies

“… if the Government machinery is so inefficient and incapable of filing appeals/ petitions in time, the solution may lie in requesting the Legislature to expand the time period for filing limitation for Government authorities because of their gross incompetence. That is not so. Till the Statute subsists, the appeals/petitions have to be filed as per the Statues prescribed.”[1]

The recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court, a bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Bherulal, [2] has come straight from the shoulder. The Court has unequivocally reiterated that the government departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and commitment. Condoning delay is an exception and should not be used as an anticipated benefit for government departments. The Supreme Court has emphasised that the law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be swirled for the benefit of a few.
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Understanding Cross Border Legal Assistance

The increasingly globalised and liberated world economy has created opportunities for economic growth as well as transnationalisation of crimes.

Economic liberalisation aided by technological advancements has contributed significantly to complex cross-border offences with actors and offences and its implications occurring in multiple jurisdictions as well as the offenders seeking refuge in foreign jurisdictions. Especially with increase in organised crime, trafficking of humans and drugs, smuggling, mutual legal assistance is an invaluable resource in investigating crimes and bringing criminals to justice.

As offences are no longer a mere domestic governance issue, it is imperative for governments to aid domestic law enforcement agencies through proper channels for ensuring inter-jurisdictional assistance among nation states by entering into agreements providing for legal assistance or a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty “MLAT”. Mutual legal assistance may also be given informally through bilateral cooperation and sharing of information between policing or judicial officials in different states.
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Automatic Vacation of Stay Orders in Six Months - A Positive Affirmation

Cases in India can take years to be disposed of. Stay of proceedings on account of interim orders has been greatly responsible for causing inordinate delay in disposal of cases. These orders typically stay effective unless expressly vacated, or until a final order is passed, which then subsumes the interim order. Interim orders that stay proceedings before a subordinate court are often misused by litigants as a dilatory tactic to maintain status quo in their favor. The subordinate courts account for 87% of India’s pending cases.[1] A greater challenge faced by the judiciary and litigants alike is the delay in determination of cases at the appellate level, which in turn leads to endless wait for determination of matters even at the trial stage. The Law Ministry estimates that on an average, a trial is delayed by about 6.5 years due to stay of proceedings by higher courts.[2]
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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - RECIPROCATING COUNTRY UNDER INDIAN LAWS

I. Introduction

India and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) have had strong diplomatic and trade relations since decades. At the 13th Session of the “India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation” held on August 17, 2020, representatives from both India and UAE expressed optimism over the growing trade, economic and investment cooperation between the two countries. While both the countries are optimistic about growth in trade relations, the Indian Government in the beginning of 2020, took commendable steps to facilitate cross border trade by declaring UAE as a reciprocating territory for execution of foreign judgments in India under Section 44A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (“CPC”). The same was done by way of an Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 36 of 2020, issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on January 17, 2020.
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Ethical Practices to be followed by a Mediator

My joy was boundless. I had learnt the true practice of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men’s hearts. I realised the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby – not even money, certainly not my soul.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Alternate dispute resolution (“ADR”) mechanisms have become the front runner in the dispute resolution space, with mediation gaining a great deal of traction in the last couple of decades. This is so not only with respect to disputes amongst individuals, but companies as well. It is seen that a myriad range of civil disputes such as disputes arising out of contractual relationships, family or matrimonial relationships, employment, partnerships, tortious disputes and consumer disputes can be resolved through mediation.
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The Final Word on the Limitation Period for Enforcement of Foreign Awards

The Supreme Court has, in its recent judgment of Government of India v. Vedanta Limited & Ors.[1], settled the law relating to limitation for filing petitions for enforcement and execution of foreign awards in India. The Court held that petitions seeking enforcement/execution of foreign awards are required to be filed within three years from the date when the right to apply accrues and in the event there is any delay in filing such petitions, the same can be condoned under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 (“Limitation Act”).
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The Age of the Indian Consumer

In a recent decision[1] passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, developers were directed to pay compensation in excess of the contractually stipulated amount to flat purchasers, on account of delay in handing over possession and non-fulfilment of certain representations made to them. It was also held that consumer forums established under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (CP Act, 1986), are empowered to award just and reasonable compensation (even beyond the contractually stipulated amount, wherever necessary) to alleviate the harassment and agony caused to a consumer.
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Avitel v. HSBC: Finality on the Question of Arbitrability when Allegations of Fraud are Raised By Indranil Deshmukh, Vineet Unnikrishnan and Samhita Mehra The Supreme Court in the case of Avitel Post Studioz Limited v. HSBC PI Holdings (Mauritius) Limited (“Avitel Case”) has recently engaged with the question of whether allegations of fraud can be adjudicated in arbitration, or whether they require adjudication before a court. In its judgment, the Court has laid down clear tests to determine when a dispute involving allegation of fraud is arbitrable, and when it would require adjudication before a court. Material Facts In this case, a Share Subscription Agreement (“SSA”) dated April 21, 2011, was entered into between Avitel and HSBC, by way of which HSBC invested USD 60 million in Avitel to acquire 7.80% of its shareholding. The SSA contained a clause providing for arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre in case of a dispute. An accompany Shareholders’ Agreement (“SHA”) dated May 6, 2011, was also executed, which contained an identical arbitration clause. Thereafter, a dispute arose between the parties. HSBC alleged that the promoters of Avitel, namely, the Jain Family, had induced HSBC to invest in Avitel by making a representation that Avitel was on the verge of finalising a lucrative contract with the British Broadcasting Corporation. HSBC alleged that there was no such contract, and that around USD 51 million from the USD 60 million investment had in fact been siphoned away to other companies owned or controlled by the Jain Family. Arbitral proceedings were initiated, and a final award was passed in favour of HSBC inter alia holding the above allegations to be true (“Award”). The matter reached the Supreme Court in the context of a petition under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), filed by HSBC seeking orders of deposit of the full claim amount of USD 60 million to protect the subject matter of the Award, pending enforcement of the same. Issues and Discussion The Supreme Court was asked to consider whether HSBC had a prima facie case for enforcement of the Award in India. Challenging the enforcement of the Award, it was contended on behalf of Avitel that since the allegations of fraud have been made in arbitral proceedings involving serious criminal offences, such as forgery and impersonation, such a dispute is not arbitrable then under Indian law and the award unenforceable, as a consequence. On behalf of HSBC, it was contended that non-arbitrability would be triggered only in cases where serious allegations of fraud would vitiate the arbitration agreement and not in other cases. After taking stock of the jurisprudence on this point thus far, the Court held that “serious allegations of fraud”, leading to non-arbitrability would arise only if either of following two tests were satisfied, and not otherwise. 1. Where the Court finds that the arbitration agreement itself cannot be said to exist being vitiated by fraud; or 2. Where allegations are made against the State or its instrumentalities, relating to arbitrary, fraudulent, or mala fide conduct, giving rise to question of public law as opposed to questions limited to the contractual relationship between the parties. This means that all other cases involving “serious allegations of fraud” i.e. cases that do not meet the above two tests laid down by the Supreme Court, would be arbitrable. Applying the aforesaid test to the facts before it, the Court found that the issues raised and answered in the Award were the subject matter of civil as opposed to criminal proceedings. The fact that a separate criminal proceeding was sought to be initiated by HSBC is of no consequence whatsoever. It was held that the impersonation, false representations and siphoning of funds found to have been committed were all inter parties and had no “public flavour” so as to be non-arbitrable on account of allegations of fraud. As such, the Supreme Court inter alia upheld the orders of deposit of the full claim amount of USD 60 million to be kept aside for the purposes of enforcement of the Award in India. Way Forward The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Avitel Case lends clarity to courts and arbitral tribunals, which should aid in weeding out incessant and creative submissions to “wriggle out” out of arbitration agreements. The two grounds forming exceptions to arbitrability of matters involving serious allegations of fraud as crystallised by the Supreme Court are clearly identifiable and easily discernable. Therefore, the judgment in the Avitel Case is likely to save precious judicial time that may otherwise have been spent in deliberating on the question of arbitrability of a dispute involving allegations of fraud.  

The Supreme Court in the case of Avitel Post Studioz Limited v. HSBC PI Holdings (Mauritius) Limited[1] (“Avitel Case”) has recently engaged with the question of whether allegations of fraud can be adjudicated  in arbitration, or whether they require adjudication before a court. In its judgment, the Court has laid down clear tests to determine when a dispute involving allegation of fraud is arbitrable, and when it would require adjudication before a court.
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 Supreme Court sets out object and purpose of Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908

Introduction

Judicial time is precious and ought to be employed in the most efficient manner possible. Sham litigations are one such menace that not only waste the time of the courts, but also cause unwarranted prejudice and harm to parties arrayed as defendants in such litigations, thereby defeating justice. In order to deal with such a menace, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (“CPC”), under Order VII Rule 11[1] (“O7 R 11”) provides litigants the option to pursue an independent and special remedy, empowering courts to summarily dismiss a suit at the threshold, without proceeding to record evidence, and conducting trial, on the basis of the evidence adduced, if it is satisfied that the action should be terminated on any grounds contained in this provision.

Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (“SC”) in the case of Dahiben v. Arvindbhai Kalyanji Bhanusali[2] (“Case”), while dealing with an appeal against an order allowing rejection of a suit at the threshold, had occasion to consider various precedents, discussing the intent and purpose of O7 R11, while setting out the principles in relation to the same.
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Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872: Requirements for admissibility of electronic evidence revisited by the Supreme Court

Background

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court recently held that the requirement of a certificate under Section 65B(4) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (“Evidence Act”), is a condition  precedent to the admissibility of electronic record in evidence.[1] This judgment arose from a reference by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court, which found that the Division Bench judgment in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh[2] required reconsideration in view of the three-judge bench judgment in Anvar P.V. v. P.K. Basheer.[3]
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