ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
- State of West Bengal v. Bharat Vanijya Eastern Private Limited
Unreasoned Arbitral awards are opposed to Public Policy u/S 34 of Arbitration & Conciliation Act: Calcutta High Court (HC)
The Court held that an award that is not based on reasons whatsoever, would amount to being an award that is opposed to public policy. The Court noted that the contents of the contractor's notes of argument were substantially reproduced in the Arbitral award and as such, the Arbitral award did not reflect the act of assessment or adjudication, which is the sine qua non of the process of Arbitration. It said that even if the contractor's claim was based on some estimation, the arbitrator's acceptance had to clearly demonstrate why such extent of estimation was justified.
COMPETITION & UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICE
- Star India (P) Ltd v. Society of Catalysts & Anr
Supreme Court (SC) sets aside Order of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) holding Star TV, Airtel & KBC show liable for Unfair Trade Practice
The Appellant used to broadcast the programme ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (‘KBC’). The programme was sponsored by Bharti Airtel Limited, during the telecast of this programme, a contest called ‘Har Seat Hot Seat’ (‘HSHS contest’) was conducted, in which the viewers of KBC were invited to participate. There was no entry fee for the HSHS contest. However, it is not disputed that participants in the HSHS contest were required to pay ₹ 2.40 per SMS message to Airtel, which was higher than the normal rate for SMS. Respondent filed a complaint before the National Commission against Star India and Airtel, contending that they were committing an ‘unfair trade practice’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(r)(3)(a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (‘the 1986 Act’). It was alleged that the Appellants had created a false impression in viewers’ minds that participation in the HSHS contest was free of cost, whereas the cost of organizing the contest as well the prize money was being reimbursed from the increased rate of SMS charges, and the profits from these charges were being shared by Airtel with Star India. The Supreme Court held that there is no other cogent material on record upon which the National Commission could have placed reliance to render the finding of ‘unfair trade practice’ under Section 2(1)(r)(3) (a) of the 1986 Act. The National Commission had sought to rely on the newspaper report published in the Hindustan Times. The Supreme Court found that the complainant has clearly failed to discharge the burden to prove that the prize money was paid out of SMS revenue, and its averments on this aspect appear to be based on pure conjecture and surmise. The Supreme Court held that the finding of the commission of an unfair trade practice under Section 2(1)(r)(3)(a) in the impugned judgement is bad in law.
- Bharat Coking Coal Ltd & Ors v. Shyam Kishore Singh
Supreme Court (SC) rules, employees cannot seek change in date of birth as a matter of right even if there is good evidence
The Supreme Court (SC) reiterated that if a particular date of birth is entered in the service register of an employee, a change sought cannot be entertained at the fag end of service.
WORDS & PHRASES
- Oriental Insurance Company Limited v. M/s J K Cement Works
Supreme Court (SC) rules, Vehicles damaged by Heavy Rains duly covered under Insurance for Flood & Inundation
The Supreme Court (SC) has interpreted the meaning of the words 'Flood and Inundation' in an Insurance Contract. The issue raised before the Court was that whether these words included only damage caused by overflowing of rivers, or they included damages caused by heavy rains as well. The appeal in the case arose from the order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The respondent, in this case, was a cement manufacturer who had purchased a Standard Fire and Peril Insurance Coverage from the appellant, which covered damages due to "flood and inundation" among other things. The coal stocked by the respondent got washed away due to heavy rain incident. The appellant herein though rejected the claim in respect of that damage by saying that the damage due to heavy rains was not covered under 'flood and inundation'. The respondent then took the matter to the NCDRC claiming compensation to the tune of ₹ 1.32 crores which was allowed and the insurance company appealed to the Supreme Court. The company in its argument submitted that 'flood' refers to overflowing of water bodies such as rivers, ponds, lakes, etc. while 'inundation', refers to 'accumulation of water' and could thus not be applied to the present case as the coal had merely been washed off due to heavy rains. The Court referred to the meanings of these words as defined in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary to settle the matter. The Court on the basis of the above held that floods can be broadly divided into the following categories: coastal floods, fluvial floods (river floods), and pluvial floods (surface floods). Pluvial or surface floods refers to the accumulation of water in an area because of excessive rainfall. These floods occur independently of an overflowing water body. ‘Inundation’ was said to be referring to both the act of overflow of water as well as the result of such overflow. The Court also noted that there was no water body near the factory and thus dismissed the appeal.