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Delay not ground for dismissing petition

BS Reporter 

The Supreme Court (SC) stated last week that courts should not dismiss petitions of revenue authorities only on the ground of delay, without going into the merits of the case. In this case, the Commissioner of Income Tax appealed to the SC against the order of the Calcutta high court which dismissed its petition because the revenue authorities came beyond the time limit set by the Limitation Act. The high court did not examine the pleas of the tax authorities in the case involving a company, West Bengal Infrastructure Development Corporation. The amount claimed against the corporation was Rs 4 crore. The order of the SC, passed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, asked the high court to reconsider the case by hearing and deciding the contention of the tax authorities. The court was taking strict action recently against delayed appeals by revenue authorities, but in tax cases, it might be beneficial to the companies as the merits would be forgotten. Therefore the courts are advised to use their discretion wisely to deal with delayed appeals.

No time limit for reference of disputes to labour court
The Industrial Disputes Act does not prescribe any time limit for referring a dispute to the labour court, the Supreme Court has stated in its judgment, Kuldeep Singh vs Instrument Design Development Centre. In this case, the employee was terminated without notice or compensation. He moved the Haryana government which referred the dispute to the labour court. It dismissed the worker's petition on the ground that he moved the government nearly six years after the termination. The high court also held the same view. But when he appealed to the Supreme Court it took a favourable view. It said that the Act allowed the government to refer the dispute at any time. The real test is whether a dispute existed and not when it is made. When the state government is satisfied that there is a dispute, the labour court should consider it on merits. In this case, the labourer was representing his case before various authorities in the time between the termination and the reference to the labour court.

No exemption for goods brought in without valid licence
Goods brought into the country without valid licence is not entitled to customs exemption, and it should be treated in the same way as smuggled goods, the SC stated in the case, Commissioner of Customs vs M/s M Ambalal & Co. In this case, a large quantity of diamonds were brought in by the firm. The authorities seized them and demanded over Rs 2 crore by way of duty for their release. The matter was taken to the customs tribunal, which held that the goods were entitled to exemption under a 1976 notification. On appeal, the SC set aside the tribunal's order and asserted that the goods could not be imported without a valid licence and therefore the import was not valid. Also, it was not entitled to the exemption under the notification.

War widow allowed to appeal
In the case of war widows, handicapped people and similar cases, the law should take a liberal view, the SC stated in the judgment, Shalimar Gas vs Indian Oil Corporation. In this case, a war widow was given a gas distribution agency. She was managing it with her two daughters. When she became old, she made it into a partnership. She held 51 per cent and another held the rest. The corporation cancelled the licence on the ground that she assigned or transferred the distributorship in violation of the terms of the agreement by reconstituting the firm. The SC allowed her appeal stating that a humanitarian view should be taken in such cases. The SC last week dismissed the appeal of Mewar Polytex Ltd and upheld the order of the Rajasthan high court which stated that the company had resorted to “subterfuge and impermissible technicalities in attaining its desired end to claim Modvat credit”. The excise authorities had alleged the company, manufacturer of HDPE/PP fabrics and bags, had wrongly taken credit. This view was upheld by the courts. The Delhi high court last week rejected the plea of Bling Telecom Ltd seeking an injunction against Micromax Informatics Ltd which was using the word ‘Bling’ for its mobile phones. The high court stated that both claimed right to the word for selling their products. However, Bling is a common dictionary word with no association to such goods. Apparently bling is an ideaphone (word evocative of a vivid sensation or sensory perception) meant to convey the idea (or sound) of the "sound" of light hitting silver, platinum, or diamonds. The specific term bling was first popularized in the hip-hop community, it has spread beyond hip hop culture and into mass culture. It was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 and to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006. The Free online Dictionary describes bling as "flashy, ostentatious jewelry; e.g. "the rapper was loaded with bling". So there was no appropriation of the common word by a company.

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First Published: Mon, December 13 2010. 00:28 IST