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A Person Can Be Held Guilty For Violation Of Injunction Only When Disobedience Was Willful: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
26 July 2019 1:15 PM GMT
A Person Can Be Held Guilty For Violation Of Injunction Only When Disobedience Was Willful: SC [Read Judgment]
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"The allegation of willful disobedience being in the nature of criminal liability, the same has to be proved to the satisfaction of the court that the disobedience was not mere “disobedience” but a “willful disobedience”.

The Supreme Court has observed that a person can be held guilty of willful disobedience of the Order XXXIX Rule 2A of the Code of Civil Procedure, not for mere "disobedience" but only for "willful disobedience."In this case, the Trial Court passed an order of injunction and restrained Surendranath from passing off the goods by using trade mark "Mambally's Bakery" or any other trade...

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The Supreme Court has observed that a person can be held guilty of willful disobedience of the Order XXXIX Rule 2A of the Code of Civil Procedure, not for mere "disobedience" but only for "willful disobedience."

In this case, the Trial Court passed an order of injunction and restrained  Surendranath from passing off the goods by using trade mark "Mambally's Bakery" or any other trade mark deceptively identical or similar to this mark and also from wrongfully selling the product using the trade mark "Mambally's Bakery". Based on a commissioner's report that a big hoarding with the name "Mambally's Bakery" has been displayed in front of his shop, the Court came to the conclusion that there is a willful disobedience and directed that Surendranath be sentenced to undergo imprisonment for one week. The High Court of Kerala affirmed this order of the Trial Court.

The explanation offered by Surendranath was that since the hoarding is situated at height of 13 feet and also due to the scarcity of the labour force, he could not immediately remove the hoarding. It was further submitted that he is 40% disabled and thus was incapacitated from climbing up and removing the hoarding by himself.

Accepting this explanation, the bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna said:

"For finding a person guilty of willful disobedience of the order under XXXIX Rule 2A C.P.C. there has to be not mere "disobedience" but it should be a "willful disobedience". The allegation of willful disobedience being in the nature of criminal liability, the same has to be proved to the satisfaction of the court that the disobedience was not mere "disobedience" but a "willful disobedience".
As pointed out earlier, during the second visit of the Commissioner to the appellant's shop, tea cakes and masala cakes were being sold without any wrappers/labels. The only thing which the Commissioner has noted is that "non removal of the hoarding" displayed in front of the appellant's shop for which the appellant has offered an explanation which, in our considered view, is acceptable one." 

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