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

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­group.com

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

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