27 April 2023 3:09 AM GMT
The Madras High Court recently set aside a single judge order restraining Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Private Limited from proceeding with a defamation suit against former MP Dr. Subramaniam Swamy in the High Court of Singapore. In view of our above findings on all the issues, we are of the view that there is no prima facie case in favour of the 1st respondent/plaintiff...
The Madras High Court recently set aside a single judge order restraining Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Private Limited from proceeding with a defamation suit against former MP Dr. Subramaniam Swamy in the High Court of Singapore.
In view of our above findings on all the issues, we are of the view that there is no prima facie case in favour of the 1st respondent/plaintiff to grant any interim order as this Court has no jurisdiction to grant anti suit injunction restraining a foreign company from prosecuting the defamation suit in a foreign country. We find balance of convenience in favour of the appellant/2nd defendant.
The division bench of Justice SS Sundar and Justice PB Balaji noted that the single judge had erred in holding that the company, incorporated and carrying out its operations in Singapore, was amenable to the jurisdiction of the Indian court as it was the subsidiary of an Indian company (which was one of the defendants in the suit by Swamy).
This Court finds that the judgment of the learned Single Judge cannot be approved for the simple reason that the learned Single Judge has simply presumed that the appellant is amenable to the jurisdiction of this Court as it is a subsidiary of the 1st defendant, a company in India.
The company informed the court that in April 2012, Swamy had held a press conference to highlight the alleged illegalities in the “Aircel-Maxis” deal connected to the 2G Spectrum scam. It was submitted that Swamy had made several allegations against the company and impressed that it was an illegal company, causing damage to its reputation and loss of business in Singapore.
Following this, the company instituted a defamation suit in the High Court of Singapore. Swamy then approached the Madras High Court seeking the relief of injunction against the company from prosecuting him in Singapore. The single judge allowed the reliefs sought by Swamy.
The company contended that the order of the single judge was erroneous. It was submitted that an anti-suit injunction could not be granted as it was not amenable to the jurisdiction of the court, being a Singapore-based company. The company also argued that the suit was barred by the principle of res judicata and laches. Further, it was also submitted that the High Court of Singapore alone had the jurisdiction to decide the defamation suit.
Objecting to the same, Swamy contended that no cause of action arose in Singapore as the Press Conference took place in New Delhi. Further, since he was residing in Chennai and New Delhi and since the holding company of Advantage Strategic had its registered office in Chennai, Swamy argued that the defamation suit was against the principle of “Forum Conveniens”.
The court, however, disagreed with this view taken by the single judge. The court held that the Supreme Court has, through various decisions highlighted that a Holding company and a wholly-owned subsidiary company are two different entities.
With respect to the jurisdiction of the Singapore Court, the Court held that the same has to be decided by the High Court of Singapore and not by a foreign court. The court also noted that the issue of natural jurisdiction would have to be decided after taking into account the preliminary objections raised by Swamy and it would be proper for the High Court of Singapore to decide the same.
The question whether the Court in Singapore has jurisdiction or not, cannot be decided by a foreign Court. When this Court is examining the jurisdiction of the Court in Chennai to grant an anti-suit injunction restraining a Singapore Company from prosecuting and proceeding further with the suit in Singapore, it will be better if this Court expresses no opinion on the issue whether the Court in Singapore alone has the exclusive jurisdiction to decide the issue…
Case Title: Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Private Limited v. Dr. Subramanian Swamy and another
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 129