25 lakhs cost imposed for threatening court receiver with false molestation case
Sapat and Company Private Limited Vs Feel Good India and another
COMMERCIAL IP SUIT (L) NO. 1766 OF 2018
About/from the judgment:
Refusing to show any leniency, court 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.
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.
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