In this week’s review of Court Judgments, we look at the Supreme Court’s judgment regarding the extension of maternity benefits beyond the period of the contract, Karnataka High Court’s observation that the wife can represent on behalf of the plaintiff despite the absence of the power of attorney, Kerala High Court’s judgment regarding recognising legal heir, Delhi High Court’s order relating to copyright infringement case and the statement of MP High Court with respect to granting bail based only on the merit of the application.
Karnataka HC: Wife competent to depose on behalf of plaintiff even in absence of power of attorney
In the case Shashikala & Others vs. Laxman Yadu Kadam & Others, the single judge of Karnataka High Court said that the wife of a plaintiff is competent enough to depose on behalf of the original plaintiff in a civil suit, despite the absence of power of attorney issued to her.
An appeal was filed by Shashikala and others challenging an order passed by the First appellate court which reversed the trial court order dismissing the suit filed by Laxman Yadu Kadam, seeking a declaration of right over the disputed property and restraining the defendants from disturbing the actual possession.
The trial court dismissed the suit on the ground that the plaintiff did not step into the witness box and in his place, his wife was examined based on the power of attorney executed by her husband.
The appeal relied on the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Janki Vashdeo Bhojwanu and another vs. Indusind Bank Ltd. and others. wherein it was held that Order III Rules 1 and 2 CPC empower the holder of power of attorney to ‘act’ on behalf of the principal.
The High Court observed that as per Section 120 of the Indian Evidence Act, the wife of the plaintiff was competent enough to depose on behalf of the original plaintiff, even in the absence of power of attorney.
A single-judge bench of Justice V Srishananda dismissed an appeal filed by Shashikala.
Kerala HC: Legal heirship certificate cannot be issued in absence of valid adoption and supporting evidence
A Division Bench of Kerala High Court consisting of Justice Alexander Thomas and Justice C. Jayachandran upheld a Single Judge’s finding that a Legal Heirship Certificate cannot be issued in favour of a person in the absence of a valid legal adoption and documents that provide evidence for the adoption, to enable them to claim compassionate appointment upon the death of the alleged adoptive parent.
As per the details in the case, Prameela L vs. State of Kerala & Ors, the appellant claimed to be the adopted daughter of one Gopalan, who was a part-time sweeper in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, GST. He passed away while in service, and the appellant filed a plea before the Single Judge seeking the issuance of directions to the District Collector, Sub Collector, Tahsildar and Village officer for the Legal Heirship Certificate to be issued to her so that she can claim compassionate appointment.
The Single judge dismissed the plea since there was no adoption certificate or a declaration from a competent court.
This was contended by the counsel representing the appellant and noted that she has been residing with Gopalan, after the death of both her parents since the age of four years. The deceased has also conducted her marriage after she has attained 18 years. The counsel also submitted that the deceased has nominated the appellant to receive the death cum retirement gratuity, acknowledging her as his stepdaughter. He had also issued a consent letter to the Manager of Indian Bank, stating the appellant to be his adopted daughter, and making her the nominee in respect of his bank account. A registered will was also executed by the deceased recognising her as his adopted daughter and bequeathing her the right to realize all service benefits, pursuant to his death.
The counsel further highlighted that none of these documents submitted were considered by the Single Judge. It also added that the deceased could not adopt her because she is a Christian and he is a Hindu. There is no law that enables the adoption of a Christian adoptive daughter by a Hindu adoptive parent.
However, the senior Government pleader argued that in the absence of a valid and legal document that proves the adoption, the appointing authority cannot be faulted for not processing the request for a compassionate appointment.
The Bench perused the documents and determined that there was nothing to indicate that the appellant had been adopted by the deceased and was being treated in all respects as an adopted daughter, with all incidents of a biological daughter.
The Court noted that the deceased had nominated the appellant as a ‘stepdaughter’ in order to receive the death cum retirement gratuity and that in the consent letter issued by him to the Bank, the appellant had been referred to as ‘foster daughter’.
“These averments are far below the legal requirement, even to suggest remotely a valid adoption of the petitioner by the said Gopalan,” the Court observed.
The Court thus could not find any fault with the respondent authorities for not issuing a Legal Heirship Certificate in favour of the petitioner.
Delhi HC: Restrains Dabur from selling its product in a packing similar to Emami’s Navratna Ayurvedic Oil
In the case , Emami Ltd vs Dabur India Ltd, Delhi High Court has passed an interim order restraining Dabur from selling its “Cool King Thanda Tel” in packing which is deceptively similar to Emami’s Navaratna Ayurvedic Oil.
As per the details of this case, Emami Ltd, the Plaintiff, filed a suit against Dabur India Ltd, the Defendant, for passing off and infringement of Emami’s trademark, design, and copyright with respect to its “Navaratna Ayurvedic Oil”.
Reviewing the details of the case, the single bench comprising of Justice C. Hari Shankar, observed that Emami’s Navratna oil has been in the market since 1989, whereas Dabur’s ‘Cool King Thanda Oil’ entered the market only in May 2023. The two products when compared, both in bottle and sachet forms, are starkly similar. Any difference in shape is imperceptible and would miss the notice of an average customer. The judge also noted that the red colour of the oil in Dabur is also lifted from the one used by Emami.
The court concluded that there was a clear attempt by Dabur to make its product appear as similar to Emami’s Navaratna Ayurvedic Oil, as possible, so as to capture the market that was developed by the latter since 1989.
A changed packing placed before the court by Dabur was also rejected by the court as even it also infringing in nature. Considering the goodwill amassed by Emami over the years with respect to the Navaratna oil brand and its observation that there was a clear attempt by Dabur to make the product appeal similar, it restrained Dabur to sell its product.
Supreme Court: Maternity benefits must be granted even if period of benefit overshoots term of contractual employment.
As per the details of the case Kavita Yadav vs. Secy. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, (Case Civil Appeal 5010/2023) the appellant i.e., Kavitha Yadav had joined as a pathology doctor on a contractual basis at Janakpuri Hospital run by NCT, Delhi. Her contract was subject to renewal every year for up to a maximum of 3 years.
She applied for a maternity leave on 24 May, for a period starting from 01 June 2017 in terms under Section 5 of Act, 1961. However, the employer provided benefits only up to 11 June, on the basis that she would become disentitled to any benefit after the end of the 3-year contract.
She unsuccessfully challenged this action before CAT and the Delhi High Court, wherein the Delhi High Court ruling restricted maternity benefits to a mere 11-day period, citing the expiration of the contractual agreement.
A 3-judge bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose, Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice SVN Bhatti considered the appeal filed in the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Delhi High Court.
On behalf of the appellant, it was argued that once the appellant fulfills the prerequisite under Section 5(2) of the Maternity Benefits Act, a contractual employee would be entitled to full benefits. It was also submitted that the appellant also fulfills the requirement of having worked more than 180 days during the preceding 1 year.
Section 5(3) was also invoked in the argument, which prescribes a maximum period of 26 weeks for maternity leave. Emphasizing the broad scope of the Act, she argued that it extends its protection even to newborn children, underscoring the legislative intent to provide support even beyond the employment period. The appellant also referred to MCD Delhi vs. Female Workers case, which extended maternity benefits to daily wage laborers.
The court observed Section 12(2(a)) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 contemplates entitlement even for an employee who is dismissed/discharged during her pregnancy and that provision for extending benefits for a period beyond the term of employment is built in the statutes.
It held that maternity benefits must be granted even if the period of benefit overshoots the term of contractual employment. Maternity benefits can travel beyond the term of contractual employment. The court directed the employer to pay maternity benefits as would have been available in terms of Sections 5 and 8 of the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 and payment to be made within 3 months.
Madhya Pradesh HC: Person willing to serve social cause can’t be given bail without considering merits
The single Judge bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Justice Anand Pathak emphasised that bail application should be heard on merit before bail is granted and a person cannot be given bail with the sole reason that he intends to serve social cause after his release.
The court made this observation in the case, Anoop Tyagi vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh. The appellant, Anoop Tyagi was accused of committing offences punishable under 341, 323, 294, 506, 34, 325, 307, 302 of the Indian Penal Code. He is under confinement since 29 April 2022. It was his third application for bail in this case.
It was submitted that he does not have any criminal antecedent to his name and that the applicant undertook to cooperate in the trial and assured the Court to stay away from the vicinity of the complainant party. He further voluntarily undertook to serve the environment/national/social cause voluntarily by planting saplings, to purge his misdeeds, if any.
Considering the contentions of the parties, the Court deems it proper to enlarge the applicant on bail imposing several conditions, including a direction that he shall plant saplings after his release.
However, it noted that the bail was provided based on merit and is not granted only because the applicant proposed to serve the environment/society voluntarily.