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Courting Controversies: Dispute Resolution finds a sweet spot in Indian Media Industry

India’s media and entertainment industry has always been close-knit. It has thrived on inter-personal relationships and handshake deals rather than extensive legal contracts, which worked well for decades. The far and few litigations over the years was telling of this fact.

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Final Word on Enforceability of Unstamped Arbitration Agreements

“It [law of arbitration] is to be expeditious where the law is slow, cheap where the law is costly, simple where the law is technical, a peacemaker instead of a stirrer-up of strife.”[1]

Are arbitration clauses in unstamped or inadequately stamped agreements enforceable? This is a question that has been under legal scrutiny and has seen conflicting views from various constitutional benches of the Supreme Court for over half a decade.

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Bombay High Court upholds NCLT’s decision to release ED attached properties after nod to IBC Resolution Plan

The High Court of Bombay (“Court”) in a recent judgment[1] has upheld the NCLT’s powers to direct the Directorate of Enforcement (“ED”) to release attached properties of a corporate debtor, once a resolution plan in respect of the corporate debtor had been approved. The Court’s decision was based on an interpretation of Section 32A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”).

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Supreme Court overrules ‘Asian Resurfacing’ judgment: No automatic vacation of stay orders passed by High Courts

Introduction:

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, vide its recent judgment in High Court Bar Association Allahabad v. State Of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.,[1]adjudicated inter alia upon whether the court, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, can order the automatic vacation of all interim/ stay orders of the High Court in civil and criminal cases on the expiry of a certain period.

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Decoding Section 17A of the PC Act: A Substantive Safeguard or a Tool for Procedural Hindrance?

Introduction

On January 16, 2024, the Division Bench of the Supreme Court delivered a split verdict in the case of Nara Chandrababu Naidu vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr.,[1] (“Chandrababu Naidu Case”) wherein the pertinent question of law was relating to the interpretation of the scope of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (“PC Act”). The provision provides for a requirement of taking a prior approval of an appropriate authority before initiating any enquiry or inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant under the PC Act. Since the alleged offences in the instant case were committed prior to July 26, 2018 – the date on which Section 17A was incorporated vide the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 26 of 2018, the issues identified by the Supreme Court relate to the interpretation and ambit of the following legal questions:

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Interplay between Foreign Extortion Prevention Act (“FEPA”) & Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (“PC Act”)

US President Joe Biden signed the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act in December 2023 (“FEPA”), a federal criminal offense creating criminal liability on foreign officials who demand or accept bribes thus acting as a concomitant legislation to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (“FCPA”)[1]. While FCPA only criminalized/ prohibited US companies from offering or bribing foreign officials, the introduction of FEPA provides a level playing field for US companies and reverses criminal liability on foreign officials, mirroring FCPA.

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Obviating Hurdles for Swifter Execution of Arbitral Awards

Context

In India, execution of decrees is governed by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (‘CPC’), and execution of arbitration awards is governed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (‘1996 Act’), and the CPC. For the purposes of enforcement, both domestic and foreign awards (recognition and enforcement thereof) are treated as decree of Court. This legal fiction also applies to consent awards, which are obtained after settlement is entered between parties. Domestic awards, which are basically India-seated arbitral awards, are governed by Part I of the 1996 Act, while foreign awards, which are foreign seated arbitral awards, are governed by Part II of the 1996 Act.

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Big win for PSBs: SC upholds arbitral award awarding damages for breach of substitution agreement, asks state agency to compensate lenders in full

The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide an order dated December 01, 2023, dismissed Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 19675 of 2023 (“SLP”), filed by Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (“HSIIDC”), a state government agency, against concurrent judgments of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, upholding an arbitral award rendered in favour of a consortium of public sector banks, led by IDBI Bank Limited (“Senior Lenders”). The Ld. arbitral tribunal, comprising Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) R M Lodha, former Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) K S P Radhakrishnan and Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) J Chelameswar (“Ld. Arbitral Tribunal”), finding favour with the case, pleaded on behalf of the Senior Lenders, awarded INR 1737.11 crore (plus additional interest and costs) as damages for HSIIDC’s breach of substitution agreement entered into between the Senior Lenders, HSIIDC and M/s KMP Expressways Limited, i.e. the concessionaire (“KMP”/ “Concessionaire”) (“Arbitral Award”).

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Jurisprudence around Grant of Interim Injunction in Defamation Suits in India

Introduction:

In civil proceedings in India, the standard for grant of interim injunction, is well established. The aggrieved party, seeking an injunction, must establish a three-part test to the satisfaction of a court of law, that is, (i) a prima facie case; (ii) balance of convenience; and (iii) irreparable harm/loss. While the three-part test remains applicable in defamation cases (including through offline and online media), for granting interim injunction, the threshold is slightly advanced due to the nature of dispute, rights involved, continuous cause of action (reputational damage if the publication is ex facie defamatory) and due to the advent of technology and widespread access to internet.

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Harshness of Consequences not a Ground to Read-Down a Provision: Supreme Court

Introduction:

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Authorised Officer, Central Bank of India v. Shanmugavelu[1]adjudicated, inter alia, upon (i) whether the forfeiture of the earnest-money deposit under Rule 9(5)[2] of the SARFAESI Security Interest (Enforcement) Rules (“SARFAESI Rules”) can be only to the extent of loss or damages incurred by the Bank/secured creditor, in consonance with the underlying ethos of Sections 73 and 74 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (“Contract Act”)? In other words, whether, the forfeiture of the entire earnest money deposit under the SARFAESI Rules amounts to unjust enrichment?; and (ii) whether the principle of “reading down” of a provision should be employed even in situations where the provision, in its plain meaning, is unambiguous and valid, but results in an allegedly ‘harsh’ consequence.

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