A Division Bench comprising of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Vipin Sanghi and Hon'ble Mr. Justice I.S.Mehta of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi has recently taken cognizance of the malpractice of Forum Shopping involving the Judges of the District Court and certain practicing Advocates. Forum shopping is a colloquial term for the practice of litigants having their legal case heard in the court thought most likely to provide a favourable judgment. The Bench has issued a notice in a Criminal Contempt filed by Capital Ventures Pvt. Ltd. along with the other Intervenors, which raises very serious concerns about the manner in which the matters particularly, suits are listed before particular Judicial Officers in the District Courts. The Petitioner has brought out several instances where the same counsel representing the respondents has moved repeated applications in different suits to have the different suits listed before particular Judicial Officers. The Petitioner has claimed that favourable orders were obtained by the Respondents from the said Judicial Officers to which they were not entitled on merits.
The Hon’ble Bench without casting any aspersion either on the Counsel or on the Judicial Officers, has directed that the IPR suits preferred by the Respondents in question should not be listed before the aforesaid three Judicial Officers and if so listed, be assigned to some other Courts by the concerned District & Sessions Judge.
Additionally, the Bench has also directed the Respondents to disclose in the reply the following details:
The number of suits it has filed in respect of its IPR with complete particulars of suit number, the date of its filing, the counsel through whom the same has been filed and the Judicial Officers before whom the matter was listed initially;
Whether an application for marking and listing before a particular Judicial Officer was moved;
The name of the Judicial Officer before whom the matter was sought to be listed;
Whether the matter was listed before the Judicial Officer as desired by the respondents;
Whether any ex-parte orders of injunction were passed, and;
The date of the ex-parte ad-interim orders of injunction, if any.
It seems that the Court has rightly triggered the malpractice of Forum Shopping being adopted by litigants in IP suits. The anti-forum shopping directions of Hon’ble Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi are clear warning to the officers of Court that forum shopping can prove to be an expensive affair for them.
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