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Quantum Securities Pvt. Ltd. & Others Vs. New Delhi Television Ltd

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CASE BRIEF

Quantum Securities Pvt. Ltd. & Others

Vs.

New Delhi Television Ltd.

Appellants- Quantum Securities Pvt. Ltd. & Others

Respondents- New Delhi Television Ltd.

Decided On: 01.07.2015

Bench:

  1. Vikramajit Sen
  2. Abhay Manohar Sapre

Statutes Referred:

  1. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971

Facts:

  1. The appellants are the defendants whereas the respondent is the plaintiff.
  2. A suit, being Civil Suit (L) No. 677 of 2013 (renumbered as Civil Suit No. 284/2014) had been filed by the respondent (plaintiff) against the appellants (defendants) in the High Court of Bombay on its original side, claiming the following reliefs:

“a. that the Defendants and each of them (by themselves and by/through their servants, employees, affiliates, associates and agents) be permanently restrained/injuncted by an order of this Hon’ble Court, from in any manner writing to third parties, letters that are defamatory in nature against the Plaintiff, its management and/or its promoters;

b. that the Defendants be directed to issue an unconditional public corrigendum, withdrawing the letters and e-mails written by it to third parties. Independent Directors and Regulatory Authorities, and apologizing for the defamatory actions on its part;

c. that the Defendants jointly and severally be decreed to pay to the Plaintiff damages of Rs. 25 Crores, as set out at Exhibit A herein, or such other amount as this Hon’ble Court seems just and appropriate;

d. that pending the hearing and final disposal of the Suit, the Defendants and each of them (by themselves and by/through their servants, employees, affiliates, associates and agents) be restrained, by order and injunction of this Hon’ble Court, from in any manner further issuing any defamatory letters, notices, emails, etc., in connection with and/or pertaining to and/or relating to the Plaintiff, its senior officials and promoters;

e. interim, ad-interim and ex-parte ad-interim reliefs in terms of prayer (a) (b) and (d) above, for costs;

g. for such further and other reliefs as this Hon’ble Court deems appropriate in the nature and circumstances of the case.”

  1. In the aforementioned pending civil suit filed, a notice of motion being Notice of Motion (L) No. 1553 of 2013 (renumbered as 488 of 2014) was filed by the respondent against the appellants herein under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (in short “the Code”) and an ad-interim relief in terms of prayers (a), (b) and (d) as extracted above was sought, during the pendency of the Suit.
  2. Ex-parte ad-interim relief in terms of prayer (a) was granted by a Single Judge by an interim order dated 06.08.2013.
  3. On receiving the summons, the appellants herein filed a detailed reply to the Notice of Motion on 21.08.2013 where, inter alia, all the material allegations made by the respondent were denied by the appellants.
  4. The respondent, in turn, filed their rejoinder on 06.09.2013 to the reply filed by the appellants to the notice of motion.
  5. The pleadings in Notice of Motion No. 488/2013, as taken out against the appellants by the respondent are complete. However, till date, the hearing in the Notice of Motion has not been concluded and for the last two years, it is pending for its final disposal on merits.
  6. Feeling aggrieved by certain alleged communication made by or/and on behalf of the appellants, according to the respondent, which was made by the appellant in violation of the ex parte interim order dated 06.08.2013, a contempt petition under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was filled by the respondent against the appellants in the High Court, being Contempt Petition No. 105/2013 (renumbered as 29/2014).
  7. It was averred among other things in the contempt petition that there was a deliberate and willful violation of the ex parte interim order dated 06.08.2013 passed by the Single Judge under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 of the Code in the aforementioned Notice of Motion on the part of the appellants, thereby rendering themselves liable for having committed contempt of the Court’s order dated 06.08.2013. It was further prayed that the appellants be accordingly punished under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, for the violation of the order dated 06.08.2013.
  8. The petition of contempt was entertained by the Single Judge upon hearing the respondent and it was observed, via order dated 26.02.2014, that on reading the averments made in the contempt petition, a prima facie case for issuance of contempt notice is made out against the appellants and hence rule be issued against them in the contempt notice making it returnable on 26.03.2014. It was further observed that these proceedings would not come in the way of the appellants to prosecute any pending proceedings.
  9. The appellants filed an affidavit as a reply to the contempt petition on 24.03.2014. The petition of contempt is pending.
  10. An additional affidavit dated 31.10.2014, complaining that fresh contempt had been committed by the appellants as they willfully violated/disobeyed the ex parte interim order dated 06.08.2013, was further filed by the respondent during the pendency of this contempt petition, and prayer was made for another notice of contempt to be issued against the appellants to show cause as to why they be not punished for having committed fresh contempt of order dated 06.08.2013.
  11. Upon perusal of the additional affidavit, as filed by the respondent on 31.10.2014, issuance of notice to the appellants was initiated by the Single Judge to show cause as to why action under the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, be not initiated against them for committing violation of orders dated 06.08.2013 and 26.02.2014. Such notices were returnable on 08.10.2014. A further order, restraining the appellants from issuing any defamatory letter, notice, e-mail, advertisement and publication of any nature in connection with the respondent, was also issued by the Single Judge. The matter is also pending.
  12. The appellants, on feeling aggrieved by the two interim orders (dated 26.02.2014 and 31.10.2014), filed these appeals by way of special leave before this Court.

Issue:

  1. Whether the appeals, filed by the appellants are accurate in regards to the facts of law related to the matter.
  2. Whether the remedy of the appellants lie in filing statutory appeal under Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act against the impugned orders.

Obiter Dicta:

  1. When the order dated 06.08.2013 was admittedly an ex parte one, then in such circumstances, no sooner the defendants (appellants) entered appearance in the civil suit and filed their pleadings in reply to the Notice of Motion, the Court which is seized of the main case should have made sincere endeavor to dispose of the Notice of Motion on merits in the light of the mandate contained in Order XXXIX Rule 3A of the Code which in clear terms provides that the Court shall make an endeavor to finally dispose of the application within 30 days from the date on which the ex parte injunction was granted.

Ratio Decidendi:

  1. It is always in the larger interest of the parties to the suit to first get the main case decided on its merits as far as possible, rather than to pursue their off-shoot proceedings on merits by keeping the main case undecided. It is more so when any decision rendered in the main case has a bearing over the pending off-shoot proceedings.
  2. When the issue on merits is seized of by the original court in civil suit/proceedings and rights of the parties are still not decided on merits then it is not proper for this Court to probe into the facts and record any finding on any of the issues arising out of collateral proceedings such as the one here else our observation may cause prejudice to the parties while prosecuting their case before the original court on merits.

Judgement:

  1. All such issues, as argued in these appeals have been kept open to be decided upon at the appropriate stage, if and when occasion arises.
  2. The learned Single Judge was requested to decide Notice of Motion No. 1553/2013 renumbered as 488/2014 arising out of Civil Suit No. 677/2013 renumbered as 284/2014 on merits in accordance with law preferably within three months from the date of receipt of copy of this judgment. Till such decision was made, the bench was inclined to stay the contempt proceedings out of which these appeals arise. After the disposal of the Notice of Motion, the contempt proceedings may be decided in accordance with law including its maintainability, etc.
  3. It was not considered necessary to discuss in detail, the submissions urged by both the learned senior counsel, nor was it considered apposite to deal with the several case laws cited at the bar.
  4. The appeals stand disposed of.
  5. No order as to cost was passed.
  6. A copy of the order was directed to be filed before learned Single Judge in the main case as also in contempt proceedings to enable the appropriate Benches to decide the cases accordingly.

Conclusion:

Upon thorough perusal of the prior petition and procedural history of the entire matter, the Bench came to a conclusion that a decision of the main case was needed to be made by the Single Judge before they could continue with the issues as raised in these appeals. Accordingly, such appeals were disposed of.