The court proceeding has been stopped in Delhi HC regarding the clearance of Punitive damages
Team SoOLEGAL 14 Aug 2017

The court proceeding has been stopped in Delhi HC regarding the clearance of Punitive damages

In cases of Intellectual property violation, the demand for punitive damages has been a controversial subject in our country ever since it’s been adopted and authorized as a mean to cover lossess suffered by the paintiff and to punish defendant for his conduct. The idea of punitive damages was introduced by a single Judge of the Delhi High Court in the Time Incorporated vs Lokesh Srivastava case in 2005.    

Punitive damages or exemplary damages are the damages intended to reform or deter the defendant from engaging in similar conduct. The purpose of Punitive Damage is basically not to compensate the paintiff, the plaintiff will merely recieve a certain amount of damage award.

While Some Jurisdictions embraced punitive damages with complete surety like USA, some other law courts are still feeling unsatisfied with the idea of awarding punitive damages. The judgment passed in Time Incorporated case, after a long and exhaustive trial, Delhi High Court granted punitive damages to the victims of Trademark violation case. IN the case, according to the plaintiff, a mere look at the defendant’s Magazine disclosed violation of its Trademark and slavish imitation of the distinctive red border to mislead the general public. Even in the investigation led by plaintiff, revealed that the defendant’s registered office in USA through which they claimed their legitimacy, is also fake and has only been occupied to mislead the customers.   

In its Judgment, the Court charged the defendant to pay punitive damages as to financially punish the defendant by forcing them to pay extensively more than the damages caused. The Verdict was controversial since the very day because trademark and copyright law in India provide for civil and criminal remedies. Violation of these Acts should not just end up by merely charging punishment amount but imprisonment is also necessary to maintain fear of law violation and to prevent such violations permanently.

The Delhi High Court awarded punitive damages to the plaintiff without explaining any quantum of the punitive damages which means there were no measures on how much to pay. But in 2014, the subject of punitive damages was again rose in Hindustan Unilever Ltd vs Reckitt Benckiser India Ltd. Before the High Court Comprising a division bench headed by Justice Ravindra Bhatt who said nothing while countermanding the judgment in Time Incorporated and Lokesh Srivastava case. In that decision, the court said that punitive damages can be used to minimize the numbers of criminal cases piling up by providing civil alternatives to the minor crimes, is clearly outrageous because wherever a crime is committed, a punishment is required.

Later the judgment of the division bench was ignorned by the original Judge, stating that punitive damages should be awarded in the Times Incorporated vs Lokesh Srivastav case. The amount of compensation was ranging from 50,000 to 15 lakhs, in IP cases. 

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