An Update on the Emami  v.  Dabur: A Qualified Right to be Heard  for Ad Interim Injunctions

Recently on October 11, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court clarified that its earlier observation (in Dabur v. Emami), to accord the Respondent an opportunity to be heard before deciding on an ad interim injunction application cannot be seen as an inviolable rule. SpicyIP intern Tejaswini Kaushal writes on this clarification by the Division Bench. Tejaswini is a 3rd-year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. She is keenly interested in Intellectual Property Law, Technology Law, and Corporate Law. Her previous posts can be accessed here.

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An Update on the Emami  v.  Dabur: A Qualified Right to be Heard  for Ad Interim Injunctions

Tejaswini Kaushal

An update on the jurisprudence established in the Dabur v. Emami order (previously covered here) has recently come up from the Delhi High Court’s side. The court’s take in Emami, which was expeditiously reinforced in the Silvermaple v. Ajay Dubey case, established that granting an opportunity to the defendant to file a response is essential before granting an ad interim injunction. However, a qualification has been added to this order’s application in the order by the Division Bench (DB) consisting of J. Yashwant Varma and J. Dharmesh Sharma, dated 11 October 2023 in Hulm Entertainment Pvt Ltd & Ors. v. SBN Gaming Network Private Limited & Ors.

The court clarified that the Emami order did not set an inviolable rule against issuing such injunctions. Rather, it has allowed for consideration of ad interim or ex parte reliefs based on the specific circumstances of each case. It further illustrated that situations like counterfeiting, the sale of spurious drugs, and harm to public or commercial interests might justify such injunctions. Holding the Single Judge’s interpretation of the Emami order as misconstrued, the court overturned the previous order and sent the injunction application back to the Single Judge for a fresh evaluation. 

The process of allowing the right to be heard doesn’t diminish the evaluation of the plaintiff’s claim in any way but rather upholds the fundamental purpose of injunction orders — maintaining fairness. However, ad interim injunctions hold separate importance in the litigation process, especially when the other party just doesn’t show up, regardless of intimations. This happens rather frequently, for instance, in (genuine) cases concerning counterfeit goods and is bound to affect plaintiffs adversely. In such situations, the new add-on in this order may be helpful as long as it’s clearly understood to be the “exception” and not the rule. Moreover, rather than merely giving examples of the types of situations like counterfeiting or spurious drugs, it would have been helpful for the DB to have mentioned the legal situations, such as a party not showing up despite notice, or other relevant circumstances, where the court can exercise its discretion in favor of granting ad interim injunctions. Hence, while the court has refused to accept the Emami order’s overarching application, it is still hoped that the court will continue to hold the Emami jurisprudence in high regard while dealing with matters of ad interim injunctions and maintain its strict applicability in cases where no circumstances of immediate ad interim injunctions are explicit.

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