Insurer told to pay higher damages
The Supreme Court has invoked its rare inherent powers to grant higher amount of compensation in a 1992 motor vehicle accident claim, dismissing the appeal of New India Assurance Co Ltd. The insurance company had raised doubts about the validity of the licence of the truck driver who caused the accident, negligence of the deceased, employment proof of the driver and a host of technical issues. These objections had delayed the settlement of the claim by eight dependents including aged parents and small children. The Rajasthan high court granted Rs 4.85 lakh, but the claimants could not get even that as the company appealed to the Supreme Court, where it lay for over five years. Ultimately, the Supreme Court raised the amount to Rs 10 lakh and cost of Rs 5 lakh, and criticised the high court and the motor accident tribunal for wrongly applying the formulae for computing compensation. The court remarked that claimants like these represented “many thousands of poor litigants who suffer silently by treating it as their destiny."
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Hike in horse racing fee upheld
The Supreme Court last week upheld the power of the Delhi government to increase the licence fee for horse racing and arranging betting on the race. It stated that the fee was regulatory and not for any service provided to the race club. It is also not a tax. Therefore, the government has the power under Section 11(2) of the Mysore Race Courses Licensing Act (applicable to Delhi) to increase the licence fee, the judgment asserted in the case, Delhi Race Club Ltd vs Union of India. The club was paying the licence fee for the past 15 years. But when the rate was increased, it challenged the law and the rules. The Delhi high court had rejected their contentions. It appealed to the Supreme Court without success.
Orissa official summoned in mining case
The Supreme Court has summoned the Law Secretary of Orissa in person to explain the lapse of government counsel when the case, State of Orissa vs Mesco Steel Ltd, was called. The case involved mining and was of public interest. Therefore, apart from the personal appearance of the Law Secretary, he shall also state on affidavit “the steps that have been taken by the government for defending the matters in which the State is a party in the Supreme Court and the reasons for neglect of the counsel entrusted with such matters to appear before the court." The court stated that it did not dismiss the government appeal only because it would prejudice public interest.
Objections to US award rejected
The Delhi high court has rejected the objections of Escorts Ltd to the enforcement of an arbitral award made in the US in favour of a Delaware corporation, Universal Tractor Holding LLC (UTH), and asked the Indian company to deposit three sets of amounts in the court. The high court declared that the award is enforceable under Section 49 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act and it is deemed to be a decree of the court. Further, it held that the award was not opposed to the public policy of India. The dispute originated when UTH entered into a Membership Interest Purchase Agreement with Escorts Agri Machinery Inc, a Delaware firm, whereby UTH agreed to sell its 49% interest, represented by 49 membership units in Beaver Creek Holdings LLC, also of Delaware. Escorts contended that it was not privy to the agreement and therefore there was no arbitration agreement between it and UTH.
Security firm told to reinstate staff
The Delhi high court last week dismissed the appeal of a security agency which had dismissed its employee without paying one month’s wages and not getting the approval from the industrial tribunal. This was held to be violation of Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act, as a dispute was pending before the tribunal. The tribunal directed the employer, Top Security Ltd, to reinstate him and pay 50 per cent back wages. The company moved the high court. It upheld the tribunal’s order stating that once the provision was violated, the tribunal need not decide whether the termination was justified or not.
US firm opposes ‘Trix’ trade mark
The Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal last week asked the Registrar of Trade Marks to remove the mark “Trix" from the register on a petition moved by General Mills Inc of Minnesota, which has an Indian subsidiary formed in 1995. It argued that Kaira District Coop Milk Producers Federation, Anand, (of Amul fame) had registered the Trix mark but had not used it for more than five years. It was registered without bona fide intention to use, it was contended. The tribunal allowed the petition stating that the mere fact that the foreign firm has not used the mark in India would be irrelevant if it was the first in the world market. The US firm has used the mark in over 100 countries and has proved its intention to use it here by seeking registration, the judgment said.