Wheels of justice to move faster following Supreme Court decision

India
In Bajaj Auto Limited v TVS Motor Company Limited (Case 6309/2009, September 16 2009), the Supreme Court of India has reiterated its view that legal proceedings - and, in particular, IP litigation - should be accelerated. Although the observations of the court were made in the context of a patent infringement dispute between two Indian automobile companies, the legal and media circles have been quick to suggest that the decision could have a broader applicability.
 
In 2007 Bajaj Auto Limited filed suit against TVS Motor Company Limited before the Chennai High Court, alleging infringement of its patent for an internal combustion engine. TVS counterclaimed for revocation of the patent. In 2008 the trial judge held that TVS had infringed Bajaj’s patent and granted an interim injunction against TVS. TVS appealed.

In May 2009 the division bench vacated the injunction, holding that the infringement of Bajaj’s patent had not been established. However, the validity of the patent was not contested.

On appeal to the Supreme Court, Bajaj sought the reinstatement of the trial judge’s order. The Supreme Court did not allow the appeal, but stated that the trial court should give final judgment in IP cases within four months of the filing of the suit. The Civil Procedure Code provides that when a hearing has started, it shall continue until all witnesses have been examined - however, this provision rarely works in practice. The court, citing its decision in Shree Vardhman Rice v Amar Singh Chawalwala, was of the opinion that "matters relating to trademarks, copyrights and patents should be decided very expeditiously by the trial court, instead of merely granting or refusing an injunction".

Recent news articles have announced that the Ministry of Law and Justice is hoping to streamline the justice delivery system in India (see, eg, "Government proposes measures to fast-track justice", Mail Today, October 25 2009). The decision of the Supreme Court seems to show that the government and the judiciary share common concerns.

Whether this goal will be achieved remains to be seen. In a country where ligation has traditionally moved at a sluggish pace, a major change in attitude is needed. Moreover, the streamlining of the legal system must go hand in hand with other reforms proposed by the ministry (eg, an increase in the number of judges and the creation of specialized courts). 
 
Binny Kalra, Anand And Anand Advocates, New Delhi

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