Validity of Emergency Arbitration Award

Emergency Arbitrator Award

By agreeing to the application of the SIAC Rules, the arbitral proceedings in the present case can be said to have commenced from the date of receipt of a complete notice of arbitration by the Registrar of the SIAC, which would indicate that arbitral proceedings under the SIAC Rules
commence much before the constitution of an arbitral tribunal under the said Rules. This being the case, when Section 17(1) uses the expression “during the arbitral proceedings”, the said expression would be elastic enough, when read with the provisions of Section 21 of the Act, to include emergency arbitration proceedings, which only commence after receipt of
notice of arbitration by the Registrar under Rule 3.3 of the SIAC Rules as aforesaid.

A conjoint reading of these provisions coupled with there being no interdict, either express or by necessary implication, against an Emergency Arbitrator would show that an Emergency Arbitrator’s orders, if provided for under institutional rules, would be covered by the Arbitration Act.

Whether an “award” delivered by an Emergency Arbitrator under the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre [“SIAC Rules”] can be said to be an order under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 ?

Continue reading “Validity of Emergency Arbitration Award”

Supreme Court of India to start physical mentioning of urgent matters from 5th July 2021.

Supreme Court of India has notified that physical mentioning of urgent matters shall start from 5th July 2021 before the mentioning officer.

This is in addition to the hearing by video conferencing as well.

Read full circular here:

Courts should refrain from passing orders incapable of implementation.

The High Court should normally consider the possibility of the implementation of the directions given by it, and such directions which are incapable of being implemented should be avoided.

The doctrine of impossibility, in our view, would be equally applicable to Court orders as well. While concluding, we may also mention that in matters which have transnational and international ramifications, the High Court should normally refrain from issuing directions in such matters,especially when such matters of national level are being considered by this Court in separate proceedings.

Read Full Judgement Below:

Insolvency Process: Effect on personal guarantee of Director.

The sanction of a resolution plan and finality imparted to it by Section 31 of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 does not per se operate as a discharge of the guarantor’s liability.As to the nature and extent of the liability, much would depend on the terms of the guarantee itself.

Approval of a resolution plan does not ipso facto discharge a personal guarantor (of a corporate debtor) of her or his liabilities under the contract of guarantee. As held by this court, the release or discharge of a principal borrower from the debt owed by it to its creditor, by an involuntary process, i.e. by operation of law, or due to liquidation or insolvency proceeding, does not absolve the surety/guarantor of his or her liability, which arises out of an independent contract.

Read Full Judgement:

Chief Minister picket at police Station and Law Minister surrounds court with thousands of supporters when it grants bail.

West Bengal’s Chief Minister and Law Minister’s Mobocracy:

Arrest of Ministers and members of Legislative assembly of West Bengal by CBI on charges of corruption in an investigation directed by High Court. Grant of Bail of Special Court to the accused. Chief Minister entering the office of CBI and stayed there for 6 hours allegedly demanding release of arrested persons. Request by CBI for transfer of Trial.

Law Minister of the State along with supporters mobbed the Court where the accused were to be presented along with charge sheet. The Law Minister remained in the Court complex throughout the day till the arguments were heard. In these facts and circumstances if any order is passed by the Court the same will not have faith and confidence of the people in the system of administration of justice. Confidence of the people in the justice system will be eroded in case such types of incidents are allowed to happen in the matters where political leaders are arrested and are to be produced in the Court. Public trust and confidence in the judicial system is more important, it being the last resort. They may have a feeling that it is not rule of law which prevails but it is a mob which has an upper hand and especially in a case where it is led by the Chief Minister of the State in the office of CBI and by the Law Minister of the State in the Court Complex. If the parties to a litigation believe in Rule of Law such a system is not followed.

Order of Division Bench dated 17 May 2021:

In our opinion aforesaid facts are sufficient to take cognizance of the present matter with reference to the request of the learned Solicitor General of India for examination of the issue regarding transfer of the trial. We are not touching the merits of the controversy but the manner in which pressure was sought to be put will not inspire confidence of the people in the rule of law. As during the period when the arguments were heard, the order was passed by the Court below, we deem it appropriate to stay that order and direct that the accused person shall be treated to be in judicial custody till further orders.

Read Full Judgement of Calcutta High Court:
Continue reading “Chief Minister picket at police Station and Law Minister surrounds court with thousands of supporters when it grants bail.”

Court Proceedings: Reporting of oral observation of Judges

In restricting ourselves to the specific grievances that have been urged by the EC,regarding the remarks made by the judges of the Madras High Court, we find that the High Court was faced with a situation of rising cases of COVID-19and,as a constitutional Court, was entrusted with protecting the life and liberty of citizens. The remarks of the High Court were harsh. The metaphor inappropriate. The High Court-if indeed it did make the oral observations which have been alluded to -did not seek to attribute culpability for the COVID-19 pandemic in the country to the EC. What instead it would have intended to do was to urge the EC to ensure stricter compliance of COVID-19 related protocols during elections.

Having said that, we must emphasize the need for judges to exercise caution in off-the-cuff remarks in open court, which may be susceptible to misinterpretation. Language,both on the Bench and in judgments,must comport with judicial propriety. Language is an important instrument of a judicial process which is sensitive to constitutional values.Judicial language is a window to a conscience sensitive to constitutional ethos. Bereft of its understated balance, language risks losing its symbolism as a protector of human dignity. The power of judicial review is entrusted to the High Courts under the Constitution. So high is its pedestal that it constitutes a part of the basic features of the Constitution. Yet responsibility bears a direct co-relationship with the nature and dimensions of the entrustment of power. A degree of caution and circumspection by the High Court would have allayed a grievance of the nature that has been urged in the present case. All that needs to be clarified is that the oral observations during the course of the hearing have passed with the moment and do not constitute a part of the record. The EC has a track record of being an independent constitutional body which shoulders a significant burden in ensuring the sanctity of electoral democracy. We hope the matter can rest with a sense of balance which we have attempted to bring.

These oral remarks are not a part of the official judicial record, and therefore, the question of expunging them does not arise. It is trite to say that a formal opinion of a judicial institution is reflected through its judgments and orders, and not its oral observations during the hearing. Hence, in view of the above discussion, we find no substance in the prayer of the EC for restraining the media from reporting on court proceedings. This Court stands as a staunch proponent of the freedom of the media to report court proceedings. This we believe is integral to the freedom of speech and expression of those who speak, of those who wish to hear and to be heard and above all, in holding the judiciary accountable tothe values which justify its existence as a constitutional institution.

Read Full Judgement:

Corona Pandemic: Directions by Supreme Court.

Conclusion:

The present order has primarily considered the submissions (written and oral) of the UOI. These submissions have been reproduced here as a matter of public record and to contextualize the clarifications that are being sought by our Court in order to serve its dialogic role. We reiterate, for abundant caution, that the data and submissions reproduced above are not its endorsement or acceptance. In terms of the above discussion, we hereby pass the following directions:

(i)The UOI shall ensure, in terms of the assurance of the Solicitor General, that the deficit in the supply of oxygen to the GNCTD is rectified within 2 days from the date of the hearing, that is, on or before the midnight of 3 May 2021;

(ii) The Central Government shall, in collaboration with the States,prepare a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency purposes and decentralize the location of the emergency stocks. The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and is to be replenished on a day to day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the States;

(iii) The Central Government and State Governments shall notify all Chief Secretaries/Directors General of Police/Commissioners of Police that any clampdown on information on social media or harassment caused to individuals seeking/delivering help on any platform will attract a coercive exercise of jurisdiction by this Court. The Registrar (Judicial) is also directed to place a copy of this order before all District Magistrates in the country;

(iv) The Central Government shall,within two weeks,formulate a national policy on admissions to hospitals which shall be followed by all State Governments. Till the formulation of such a policy by the Central Government, no patient shall be denied hospitalization or essential drugs in any State/UT for lack of local residential proof of that State/UToreven in the absence of identity proof;

(v )The Central Government shall revisit its initiatives and protocols, including on the availability of oxygen, availability and pricing of vaccines, availability of essential drugs at affordable prices and respond on all the other issues highlighted in this order before the next date of the hearing, that is, 10 May 2021. Copies of all affidavits to be served upon the Amiciin advance; and

(vi) Several other suggestions have been made before this Court in IAs and writ petitions filed by diverse parties. In order to streamline the further course of hearing, we have requested the Amicito collate and compile these suggestions which would be taken up later. The present order has focused on certain critical issues in view of the urgency of the situation

Read Full Judgement here:

What is fair use of computer code created by another?

Google copied roughly 11,500 lines of code from the Java SE program.

The copied lines are part of a tool called an Application Programming Interface (API). An API allows programmers to call upon prewritten computing tasks for use in their own programs.

Using these API, to create a new software constituted fair use.

Oracle America, Inc., owns a copyright in Java SE, a computer platform that uses the popular Java computer programming language. In 2005, Google acquired Android and sought to build a new software platform for mobile devices. To allow the millions of programmers familiar with the Java programming language to work with its new Android platform, Google copied roughly 11,500 lines of code from the Java SE program. The copied lines are part of a tool called an Application Programming Interface (API). An API allows programmers to call upon prewritten computing tasks for use in their own programs. Over the course of protracted litigation, the lower courts have considered (1) whether Java SE’s owner could copyright the copied lines from the API, and (2) if so, whether Google’s copying constituted a permissible “fair use” of that material freeing Google from copyright liability. In the proceedings below, the Federal Circuit held that the copied lines are copyrightable. After a jury then found for Google on fair use, the Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that Google’s copying was not a fair use as a matter of law. Prior to remand for a trial on damages, the Court agreed to review the Federal Circuit’s determinations as to both copyrightability and fair use.

Held: Google’s copying of the Java SE API, which included only those lines of code that were needed to allow programmers to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, was a fair use of that material as a matter of law. Pp. 11–36.

(a) Copyright and patents, the Constitution says, serve to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Art. I, §8, cl. 8. Copyright encourages the production of works that others might cheaply reproduce by granting the author an exclusive right to produce the work for a period of time. Because such exclusivity may trigger negative consequences, Congress and the courts have limited the scope of copyright protection to ensure that a copyright holder’s monopoly does not harm the public interest. This case implicates two of the limits in the current Copyright Act. First, the Act provides that copyright protection cannot extend to “any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery . . . .” 17 U. S. C. §102(b). Second, the Act provides that a copyright holder may not prevent another person from making a “fair use” of a copyrighted work. §107. Google’s petition asks the Court to apply both provisions to the copying at issue here. To decide no more than is necessary to resolve this case, the Court assumes for argument’s sake that the copied lines can be copyrighted, and focuses on whether Google’s use of those lines was a “fair use.” Pp. 11–15.

(b) The doctrine of “fair use” is flexible and takes account of changes in technology. Computer programs differ to some extent from many other copyrightable works because computer programs always serve a functional purpose. Because of these differences, fair use has an important role to play for computer programs by providing a context-based check that keeps the copyright monopoly afforded to computer programs within its lawful bounds. Pp. 15–18.

(c) The fair use question is a mixed question of fact and law. Reviewing courts should appropriately defer to the jury’s findings of underlying facts, but the ultimate question whether those facts amount to a fair use is a legal question for judges to decide de novo. This approach does not violate the Seventh Amendment’s prohibition on courts reexamining facts tried by a jury, because the ultimate question here is one of law, not fact. The “right of trial by jury” does not include the right to have a jury resolve a fair use defense. Pp. 18–21.

(d) To determine whether Google’s limited copying of the API here constitutes fair use, the Court examines the four guiding factors set forth in the Copyright Act’s fair use provision: the purpose and character of the use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. §107. The Court has recognized that some factors may prove more important in some contexts than in others. Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 577. Pp. 21–35.

(1) The nature of the work at issue favors fair use. The copied lines of code are part of a “user interface” that provides a way for programmers to access prewritten computer code through the use of simple commands. As a result, this code is different from many other types of code, such as the code that actually instructs the computer to execute a task. As part of an interface, the copied lines are inherently bound together with uncopyrightable ideas (the overall organization of the API) and the creation of new creative expression (the code independently written by Google). Unlike many other computer programs, the value of the copied lines is in significant part derived from the investment of users (here computer programmers) who have learned the API’s system. Given these differences, application of fair use here is unlikely to undermine the general copyright protection that Congress provided for computer programs. Pp. 21–24.

(2) The inquiry into the “the purpose and character” of the use turns in large measure on whether the copying at issue was “transformative,” i.e., whether it “adds something new, with a further purpose or different character.” Campbell, 510 U. S., at 579. Google’s limited copying of the API is a transformative use. Google copied only what was needed to allow programmers to work in a different computing environment without discarding a portion of a familiar programming language. Google’s purpose was to create a different task-related system for a different computing environment (smartphones) and to create a platform—the Android platform—that would help achieve and popularize that objective. The record demonstrates numerous ways in which reimplementing an interface can further the development of computer programs. Google’s purpose was therefore consistent with that creative progress that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself. Pp. 24–28.

(3) Google copied approximately 11,500 lines of declaring code from the API, which amounts to virtually all the declaring code needed to call up hundreds of different tasks. Those 11,500 lines, however, are only 0.4 percent of the entire API at issue, which consists of 2.86 million total lines. In considering “the amount and substantiality of the portion used” in this case, the 11,500 lines of code should be viewed as one small part of the considerably greater whole. As part of an interface, the copied lines of code are inextricably bound to other lines of code that are accessed by programmers. Google copied these lines not because of their creativity or beauty but because they would allow programmers to bring their skills to a new smartphone computing environment. The “substantiality” factor will generally weigh in favor of fair use where, as here, the amount of copying was tethered to a valid, and transformative, purpose. Pp. 28–30.

(4) The fourth statutory factor focuses upon the “effect” of the copying in the “market for or value of the copyrighted work.” §107(4). Here the record showed that Google’s new smartphone platform is not a market substitute for Java SE. The record also showed that Java SE’s copyright holder would benefit from the reimplementation of its interface into a different market. Finally, enforcing the copyright on these facts risks causing creativity-related harms to the public. When taken together, these considerations demonstrate that the fourth factor—market effects—also weighs in favor of fair use. Pp. 30–35.

(e) The fact that computer programs are primarily functional makes it difficult to apply traditional copyright concepts in that technological world. Applying the principles of the Court’s precedents and Congress’ codification of the fair use doctrine to the distinct copyrighted work here, the Court concludes that Google’s copying of the API to reimplement a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, constituted a fair use of that material as a matter of law. In reaching this result, the Court does not overturn or modify its earlier cases involving fair use. Pp. 35–36.

Read Full Judgement:

Judicial Review of removal of nominated Executive Chairman of the Private Company

Removal of Cyrus Mistry from the Board of Tata Sons:

Companies Act, 2013 is focused on listed and unlisted public companies:

The requirement under Section 149(4) to have at least one­ third of the total number of Directors as independent Directors applies only to every listed public company. The requirement under Section 151 to have one Director elected by small shareholders is also applicable only to listed companies. The requirement to constitute an Audit Committee in terms of Section 177(1), a Nomination and Remuneration Committee and the Stakeholders Relationship Committee in terms of Section 178(1) are also only on listed public companies.

Duties of a nominated Director:

It is necessary that we balance the duty of a Director,under Section 166(2) to act in the best interests of the company, its employees, the shareholders, the community and the protection of environment, with the duties of a Director nominated by an Institution including a public charitable trust. They have fiduciary duty towards 2 companies, one of which is the shareholder which nominated them and the other, is the company to whose Board they are nominated.

The question as to (i) what is in the interest of the company, (ii) what is in the best interest of the members of the company as a whole and (iii) what is in the interest of a nominator,all lie in locations whose borders and dividing lines are always blurred. If philosophical rhetoric is kept aside for a moment, it willbe clear that success and profit making are at the core of business enterprises. Therefore, the best interest of the majority shareholders need not necessarily be in conflict with the interest of the minority or best interest of the members of the company as a whole, unless there is siphoning of or diversion. Such a question does not arise when the majority shareholders happen to be charitable Trusts engaged in philanthropic activities. It is good to wish that the creation gets liberated from the creator, so long as the creator does not have any control or ability to manipulate. In the corporate world, democracy cannot be seen as an ugly expression,after using the very same democratic process for the appointment of directors.

Concept of Minority Shareholder:

The Statute confers upon the members of a company limited by shares, a right to vote in a general meeting. And this right is proportionate to his shareholding as per Section 47(1)(b). Section 152 which contains provisions for the appointment of Directors, does not confer any right of proportionate representation on the Board of any company,be it public or private.

The maximum extent, to which the Parliament has gone under the 2013 Act, is to make a provision under Section 151,enabling “a listed company” to have one Director elected by such small shareholders in such manner and on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.

One must be careful to note that both under Section 252(1) of the 1956 Act and under Section 151 of the 2013 Act, the spotlight was only on “small shareholders” and not on “minority shareholders” like the S.P. Group which holds around 18.37%.

Proportionate Representation on Board of Company:

Continue reading “Judicial Review of removal of nominated Executive Chairman of the Private Company”

State Election Commissioner must be an Independent Person not a subordinate in Government.

Appointment of Law Secretary as Election Commissioner

Constitution of India, Article 243-K:

The most disturbing feature of these cases is the subversion of the constitutional mandate contained in Article 243K of the Constitution of India. The State Election Commissioner has to be a person who is independent of the State Government as he is an important constitutional functionary who is to oversee the entire election process in the state qua panchayats and municipalities. The importance given to the independence of a State Election Commissioner is explicit from the provision for removal from his office made in the proviso to clause (2) of Article 243K. Insofar as the manner and the ground for his removal from the office is concerned, he has been equated with a Judge of a High Court. Giving an additional charge of such an important and independent constitutional office to an officer who is directly under the control of the State Government is, in our view, a mockery of the constitutional mandate. We therefore declare that the additional charge given to a Law Secretary to the government of the state flouts the constitutional mandate of Article 243K. The State Government is directed to remedy this position by appointing an independent person to be the State Election Commissioner at the earliest. Such person cannot be a person who holds any office or post in the Central or any State Government. It is also made clear that henceforth, all State Election Commissioners appointed under Article 243K in the length and breadth of India have to be independent persons who cannot be persons who are occupying a post or office under the Central or any State Government. If there are any such persons holding the post of State Election Commissioner in any other state, such persons must be asked forthwith to step down from such office and the State Government concerned be bound to fulfil the constitutional mandate of Article 243K by appointing only independent persons to this high constitutional office. The directions contained in this paragraph are issued under Article 142 of the Constitution of India so as to ensure that the constitutional mandate of an independent State Election Commission which is to conduct elections under Part IX and IXA of the Constitution be strictly followed in the future.

Read Full Judgement: