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The Judicial Exercise In Weighing Balance Of Convenience In Granting Interim Injunctions

The power to grant a temporary injunction lies at the discretion of the court. However, the discretion should be exercised reasonably, judiciously, and legal principles. The grant of an injunction is in the nature of equitable relief, and the court has undoubtedly the power to impose such terms and conditions as it thinks fit.[1] However, such conditions should be reasonable so as to make it impossible for the party to comply with the same and thereby denying the relief which he would otherwise be ordinarily entitled to.

The three conditions must be satisfied before granting the injunction- Firstly, the plaintiff makes out a prima facie case; Secondly, the plaintiff will suffer Irreparable Injury and Thirdly, Balance of convenience lies in favor of the plaintiff. The paper mainly focuses on the third condition for granting an interim injunction that is a balance of convenience. The court issues an injunction where the balance of convenience is in favor of the plaintiff and the balance is not in favor of the defendant.

Judicial Exercise In Balance Of Convenience

The third condition for granting an interim injunction is the balance of the convenience which must be in favor of the applicant. In other words, the court must be satisfied that the comparative mischief, hardship or the inconvenience which is likely to be caused to the applicant by refusing injunction will be greater than that which is likely to be caused to the opposite party by granting it[2]

Hence, it is the duty of the court to consider the convenience of the plaintiff as against the convenience of the defendant. If the court thinks that by refusing the injunctions, greater or more inconvenience will be caused to the plaintiff, it will grant interim injunction. Moreover, if the court finds that greater inconvenience will be caused to the defendant, it will refuse the relief.

A similar judgment was pronounced in the case of Dalpat Kumar Versus v. Prahlad Singh[3]:
The Court while granting or refusing to grant injunction should exercise sound judicial discretion to find the amount of substantial mischief or injury which is likely to be caused to the parties, if the injunction is refused and compare it with that it is likely to be caused to the other side if the injunction is granted. If on weighing competing possibilities or probabilities of the likelihood of injury and if the Court considers that pending the suit, the subject-matter should be maintained in the status quo, an injunction would be issued.

In other words, the plaintiff has to show that the comparative mischief from the inconvenience which will arise from withholding the injunction will be greater than the inconvenience which is likely to arise from granting it.

In Bikash Chandra Deb v. Vijaya Minerals Pvt. Ltd[4]:

the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court observed that issue of balance of convenience, it is to be noted that the Court shall lean in favor of the introduction of the concept of balance of convenience, but does not mean and imply that the balance would be on one side and not in favor of the other. There must be a proper balance between the parties and the balance cannot be a one-sided affair.

It should not be forgotten that the grant of an interim injunction is discretionary and equitable remedy and, the power to grant injunction must be exercised in accordance with sound judicial principles.

Being equitable relief, the court would keep in mind all the equitable considerations. The relief can be granted only if justice, equity, and good conscience require.[5] Hence, the court must follow all the sound judicial principles and must ensure that there is an equal and proper balance between the interests of the parties.

The appellate Courts will substitute their discretion if they find the discretion exercised by the trial Court is in ignorance of the settled principles of law regulating to the grant or refusal of the interlocutory injunction from any arbitrary exercise of the trial Court in its finding[6].

However, if the courts arbitrarily exercises their judicial powers, then the courts with higher competent authority can substitute the discretion of the lower courts. If any party is aggrieved by a decision of the court, then he can file an appeal under Order XLIII Rule 1(r)[7] of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

In the case of Mahadeo Savlaram Shelke & Ors. v. The Puna Municipal Corporation. & Anr[8]. The court should be always willing to extend its hand to protect a citizen who is being wronged or is being deprived of a property without any authority in law or, without following the procedure which is fundamental and vital in nature. But at the same time the judicial proceedings cannot be used to protect or to perpetuate a wrong committed by a person who approaches the court.[9]

The remarkable observations of Lord Diplock in the case of American Cyanamid Co. v. Ethicon Ltd.[10]: The object of the interlocutory injunction is to protect the plaintiff against injury by violation of his right for which he could not be adequately compensated in damages recoverable in the action if the uncertainty were resolved in his favour at the trial; but the plaintiff’s need for such protection must be weighed against the need of the defendant to be protected against injury resulting from his having been prevented from exercising his own legal rights for which he could not be adequately compensated under the plaintiff’s undertaking in damages if the uncertainty were resolved in the defendant’s favour at the trial. The court must weigh one need against another and determine where ‘the balance of convenience lies’[11]

It has been stated in an article that:
if the plaintiff obtains an interlocutory injunction, but subsequently the case goes to trial and he fails to obtain a perpetual order, the defendant will meanwhile have been restrained unjustly and will be entitled to damages for any loss he has sustained, requiring the plaintiff to undertake to pay any damages subsequently found due to the defendant as compensation if any injunction cannot be justified at trial.[12].
In all cases, the court must examine the quantum of losses or damages which will be suffered by the parties.

The power to grant temporary injunctions is an extraordinary remedy, by which the court preserves the order of subject matter in dispute or for maintaining the status quo. A party to the suit is not entitled to injunctive relief as a matter of right, but it depends on the discretion of the court which varies in relation to the facts and circumstances of each case. The grant of an interim injunction being an equitable remedy, the court should keep in mind equitable considerations (before granting such relief).

To grant injunction is in the discretion of the court and it must be exercised in favour of the plaintiff only if the court is satisfied that, unless the defendant is restrained by an order of injunction, irreparable loss or damage will be caused to the plaintiff. The Court grants such relief ex debito justitiae i.e. to meet the ends of justice.[13]. The principle which governs the exercise of the discretion as conferred by Order XXXIX of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 must satisfy the court as to the existence of balance of convenience.

Conclusion
In the view of the aforesaid, it can be concluded that the grant of interlocutory injunction cannot be claimed by the party as a matter of right nor can be denied by the court arbitrarily. However, the discretion of the court is guided by the principles mentioned above and depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

The party which seeks relief not only has to establish prima facie but also the irreparable non-compensable loss that would be caused in case of denial of interim injunction and that the balance of convenience lies in his favour. This paper mainly focused on the principle of balance of convenience in relation to judicial exercise and principles.

The court while granting the injunction must exercise sound judicial principles and the concept of balance of convenience means that there must be a proper balance between the parties and balance cannot be a one-sided affair. If the scale of inconvenience lies to the side of the plaintiff, then alone interlocutory should be granted, if it lies on the side of the defendant, then interlocutory inunction must not be granted. Hence, the judicial exercise in granting interim injunction must be equitable, judicious, and sound legal principles.

End-Notes:
  1. Order. 39, Rule. 2(2) of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
  2. Yogesh Agarwal v. Sri. Rajendra Goyel, 2014(3) ARC 427
  3. AIR 1993 SC 276,
  4. 2005 (1) CHN 582
  5. David Bean, Injunctions, 1st Edn., at Page no. 30
  6. Colgate Palmolive India Limited v. Hindustan Lever Limited and Lanco Kondapalli, 1999 7 SCC 1
  7. O. 43, r. 1(r) of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908
  8. (1995) 97 BOM LR 273, ¶7
  9. Ibid, ¶7
  10. 1975 AC 396: (1975) 2 WLR 316
  11. Ibid, at p. 406 (AC): at pp. 321-22 (WLR)
  12. David Bean, Injunctions, 1st Edn., at Page no. 22
  13. Mahadeo Savlaram Shelke & Ors. v. The Puna Municipal Corporation. & Anr, [13] (1995) 97 BOM LR 273

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