CIVIL APPEAL OF 2009 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 18934 of 2008)
Zenit Mataplast P. Ltd Versus State of Maharashtra and Ors
Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Dr B S Chauhan
22. In a case like this, when the applicant approaches the Court complaining against the Statutory Authority alleging arbitrariness, bias or favouritism, the court, being custodian of law, must examine the averments made in the application to form a tentative opinion as to whether there is any substance in those allegations. Such a course is also required to be followed while deciding the application for interim relief.
23. Interim order is passed on the basis of prima facie findings, which are tentative. Such order is passed as a temporary arrangement to preserve the status quo till the matter is decided finally, to ensure that the matter does not become either infructuous or a fait accompli before the final hearing. The object of the interlocutory injunction is, to protect the plaintiff against injury by violation of his right for which he could not be adequately compensated in damages recoverable in the action if the uncertainty were resolved in his favour at the trial. (vide Anand Prasad Agarwalla v. State of Assam vs. Tarkeshwar Prasad & Ors. AIR 2001 SC 2367; and Barak Upatyaka D.U. Karmachari Sanstha (2009) 5 SCC 694)
24. Grant of an interim relief in regard to the nature and extent thereof depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case as no strait-jacket formula can be laid down.There may be a situation wherein the defendant/respondent may use the suit property in such a manner that the situation becomes irretrievable. In such a fact situation, interim relief should be granted (vide M. Gurudas & Ors. Vs. Rasaranjan & Ors. AIR 2006 SC 3275; and Shridevi & Anr. vs. Muralidhar & Anr. (2007) 14 SCC 721.
25. Grant of temporary injunction, is governed by three basic principles, i.e. prima facie case; balance of convenience; and irreparable injury, which are required to be considered in a proper perspective in the facts and circumstances of a particular case. But it may not be appropriate for any court to hold a mini trial at the stage of grant of temporary injunction (Vide S.M. Dyechem Ltd. Vs. M/s. Cadbury (India) Ltd., AIR 2000 SC 2114; and Anand Prasad Agarwalla (supra).
26. In Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd. Vs. Hindustan Lever Ltd., AIR 1999 SC 3105, this court observed that the other considerations which ought to weigh with the Court hearing the application or petition for the grant of injunctions are as below :
(i) Extent of damages being an adequate remedy;
(ii) Protect the plaintiff’s interest for violation of his rights though however having regard to the injury that may be suffered by the defendants by reason therefor ;
(iii) The court while dealing with the matter ought not to ignore the factum of strength of one party’s case being stronger than the others;
(iv) No fixed rules or notions ought to be had in the matter of grant of injunction but on the facts and circumstances of each case- the relief being kept flexible;
(v) The issue is to be looked from the point of view as to whether on refusal of the injunction the plaintiff would suffer irreparable loss and injury keeping in view the strength of the parties’ case;
(vi) Balance of convenience or inconvenience ought to be considered as an important requirement even if there is a serious question or prima facie case in support of the grant;
(vii) Whether the grant or refusal of injunction will adversely affect the interest of general public which can or cannot be compensated otherwise.”
27. In Dalpat Kumar & Anr. Vs. Prahlad Singh & Ors., AIR 1993 SC 276, the Supreme Court explained the scope of aforesaid material circumstances, but observed as under:-
“The phrases `prima facie case’, `balance of convenience’ and ` irreparable loss’ are not rhetoric phrases for incantation, but words of width and elasticity, to meet myriad situations presented by man’s ingenuity in given facts and circumstances, but always is hedged with sound exercise of judicial discretion to meet the ends of justice. The facts rest eloquent and speak for themselves. It is well nigh impossible to find from facts prima facie case and balance of convenience.”
28. This Court in Manohar Lal Chopra Vs. Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hira Lal, AIR 1962 SC 527 held that the civil court has a power to grant interim injunction in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction even if the case does not fall within the ambit of provisions of Order 39 Code of Civil Procedure.
29. In Deoraj vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. AIR 2004 SC 1975, this Court considered a case where the courts below had refused the grant of interim relief. While dealing with the appeal, the Court observed that ordinarily in exercise of its jurisdiction under Art.136 of the Constitution, this Court does not interfere with the orders of interim nature passed by the High Court. However, this rule of discretion followed in practice is by way of just self-imposed restriction. An irreparable injury which forcibly tilts the balance in favour of the applicant, may persuade the Court even to grant an interim relief though it may amount to granting the final relief itself. The Court held as under:-
“The Court would grant such an interim relief only if satisfied that withholding of it would prick the conscience of the court and do violence to the sense of justice, resulting in injustice being perpetuated throughout the hearing, and at the end the court would not be able to vindicate the cause of justice.”
30. Such a course is permissible when the case of the applicant is based on his fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. (vide All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam vs. Chief Secretary, Govt. of Tamil Nadu & Ors. (2009) 5 SCC 452)
31. In Bombay Dyeing & Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Vs. Bombay Environmental Action Group & Ors. (2005) 5 SCC 61, this Court observed as under:-
“The courts, however, have to strike a balance between two extreme positions viz. whether the writ petition would itself become infructuous if interim order is refused, on the one hand, and the enormity of losses and hardships which may be suffered by others if an interim order is granted, particularly having regard to the fact that in such an event, the losses sustained by the affected parties thereby may not be possible to be redeemed.”
32. Thus, the law on the issue emerges to the effect that interim injunction should be granted by the Court after considering all the pros and cons of the case in a given set of facts involved therein on the risk and responsibility of the party or, in case he looses the case, he cannot take any advantage of the same. The order can be passed on settled principles taking into account the three basic grounds i.e. prima facie case, balance of convenience and irreparable loss. The delay in approaching the Court is of course a good ground for refusal of interim relief, but in exceptional circumstances, where the case of a party is based on fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and there is an apprehension that suit property may be developed in a manner that it acquires irretrievable situation, the Court may grant relief even at a belated stage provided the court is satisfied that the applicant has not been negligent in pursuing the case.