Wednesday, September 1, 2010

High Court cannot compel lower courts to pass interim orders, rules judge

The Madras High Court Bench here has said that it cannot compel a lower court to pass orders on an interlocutory (interim) application filed before the latter especially when it had thought it fit to decide the issue only after ordering notices to the respondents in the particular case.

Justice R.S. Ramanathan made the observation while dismissing a civil revision petition filed by Sterlite Industries of Tuticorin against the refusal of a District Court to immediately restrain an Egyptian company from approaching the ICC International Court of Arbitration in France in connection with a business contract.

The Judge rejected the revision petitioner's contention that the lower court ought to have immediately granted a temporary injunction, without waiting until service of notices, because the Egyptian company was attempting to initiate arbitral/legal proceedings on the basis of a non-enforceable contract between Sterlite and the foreign company.

“Grant of injunction is a discretionary remedy and the court has to assess the facts and circumstances and the damage that may be caused if injunction is not granted immediately. The learned District Judge, for reasons best known to him, only adjourned the case by ordering notice… and that act of the judge cannot be termed as failure to exercise jurisdiction,” Mr. Justice Ramanathan said.

He went on to state: “In my opinion, if the present kind of civil revision petitions are entertained, then it would not be possible for lower courts to function effectively and the lower courts would be forced to pass one order or another when an application for injunction is filed.

“The trial court could not be compelled to grant injunction immediately on presentation of the plaint and the act of the court in ordering notice to the respondents cannot be termed to be illegal which warrants the interference of the High Court under Article 227 (supervisory jurisdiction) of the Constitution.”

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