SC Asks for Deposits to Hear Cases of Cash-Rich Entities DETERRENT
SC wants BCCI, Star & 3 telcos to jointly deposit 1.5 cr before it hears their case
New Delhi: Taking a cue from the top-most law officer’s suggestion in the Modi government, that the judiciary must start imposing heavy costs on corporate clients to deter them from flooding the courts with litigation, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Friday cracked the whip on the cash-rich BCCI, Star TV and three mobile phone companies, asking them to deposit .₹ 1.5 crore jointly before it began adjudicating on a dispute over instant commercial cricket alerts.
The Delhi High Court had earlier rejected the BCCI and Star TV’s claim to copyright over bulk commercial cricket alerts, prompting them to appeal to the top court. The board and broadcast rights holder Star has contended that Idea Cellular and two other companies were providing free score updates though the exclusive copy rights vested with them. When the case came up, Thakur asked senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Star TV, bluntly: “How much money will you deposit? Corporate matters are taking most of the time of courts. Yesterday when we were hearing the final court of appeals matter, the Attorney General complained that corporate matters are consuming most court time.”
“Both of you deposit .₹ 50 lakh each before we hear the matter. You must make some payment. How you pay, you will work it among yourselves. People take chances without realizing what is going to happen. After hearing the matter we may award or may not award costs,” he said. If costs are awarded to the winning party, the pre-deposit would stand partially or completely forfeited. Or else, the court could forfeit it towards legal aid or any such scheme. The three phone companies were reluctant to pay any such pre-deposit but the CJI insisted that they do so. Both BCCI and Star did not demur with the CJI’s orders to paypre-deposit within four weeks. Idea cellular, Akuate Internet Services Limited and OnMobile Global Limited were jointly told to pay up.“Only if the companies deposit these amounts will their dispute be heard after summer vacation,” a bench, comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, and Justices R. Banumathi and UU Lalit, said.
These companies were the first corporate entities whose case came up on Friday before the CJIled bench, a day after the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi suggested exemplary costs on the losing party in any litigation or pre-deposits from both to keep commercial and corporate cases in check. The court then listed the appeal for further hearing in July on a non-miscellaneous day. The AG had suggested that the top court make clients, who have the ability to pay, cough up pre-deposits before hearing their cases or imposing exemplary deterrent costs on those who lose their cases to the advantage of the winning party.
But lawyers said on the condition of anonymity that the top court itself had earlier declared such pre-deposits as violative of Article 14 , as it discriminated against the haves. Other lawyers, however, said that the top court was well within its rights to fashion such a pre-deposit, as the judiciary is flooded with cases.
TS THAKUR Chief Justice of India Corporate matters are taking most of the time of courts... After hearing the matter we may award or may not award costs