Bombay HC Imposes 25 Lakhs Costs For Preventing Court Inspection & Threatening Court Receiver With False Molestation Case [Read Order]
The Bombay High Court recently imposed costs of Rs. 25 lakhs on a couple, after they prevented a Court-appointed Receiver from inspecting and seizing copyright infringing goods from their factory.
Refusing to show any leniency, Justice SJ Kathawalla asserted, "If such abhorrent behaviour is left unpunished, by showing 'compassion' to a person who knowingly, grossly abuses the process of law, and thereafter attempts to justify the same by saying that she did it 'in a fit of rage', the court will send out a wrong message to the general public, that it is not out of place for women to hold out such threats to their male counterparts, and thereafter plead for 'compassion'."
The court further noted that the Court Receiver and the plaintiff were also threatened with molestation charges by the woman, and lamented the misuse of a socially enabling piece of legislation.
"Time and again, it is noted with distress by the courts, that a socially enabling piece of legislation, is being grossly misused with impunity, by the very gender for whose empowerment it has been enacted, leaving the male/s facing grossly wrong and derogatory charges, which they have to thereafter defend themselves against. Such gross and patent misuse of a socially enabling piece of legislation has to be sternly condemned by the Courts and dealt with a very stern hand," it observed.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Sapat and Company (Bombay) Private Limited, which is engaged in manufacturing and marketing of medicines. It had filed a copyright infringement suit against Feel Good India and Narendra Marketing—the former manufactures cough syrups and the latter markets it. The label marks of their cough syrups, however, looked substantially similar to those of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff had therefore approached the court alleging copyright infringement and demanding permanent injunction against the defendants.
Granting temporary relief to the plaintiff, the court had, on December 21, 2018, granted temporary injunction and had appointed Court Receiver, Bombay High Court as Receiver to seize and take charge, possession and control of all goods bearing the impugned label mark. The Receiver was also given the liberty to take the help of the police and to break open the locks, if necessary.
However, the court was later informed that the proprietor of Feel Good India, Neha Gandhir and her husband Mr. Punit Gandhir not only obstructed the Receiver and plaintiff from entering their factory premises, but that Ms. Gandhir also threatened them with false complaints of molestation when they began recording the couple violating the court's order by transporting the infringing goods outside the factory.
In her defence, Ms. Gandhir submitted that she was't aware of the identity of the two men and had therefore lashed out on them. The court, however, was convinced that she had made false averments in her affidavit, and that she had "used the most easily available weapon to an unscrupulous and dishonest woman, when her dishonesty is exposed, by threatening them that she will level false allegations of molestation against them".
The court then imposed costs of Rs. 25 lakhs on the couple, noting that specifically her conduct could deter court officials from executing court orders against women, for fear of false and baseless charges being levelled against them.
Out of the total amount, Rs. 5 lakhs was directed to be paid to the plaintiff and Rs. 20 lakhs to Tata Memorial Hospital.
Read the Order Here
Bombay HC Imposes 25 Lakhs Costs | False Molestation Case | Bombay High Court | Justice SJ Kathawalla