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Tampering With Goods Seized By A Local Commissioner And Contempt Of Court

Court orders got some meaning, when the court passing such orders, has means to get it executed in case of violation. If the court is not equipped with authority to punish the violators, then court orders will become redundant. That's why there is provision for punishing a party for contempt of court, in case the same does not obey the court orders.

Order 26 Rule 9 of Code of Civil Procedure, provides for appointment of Local Commissioner for carrying out some specific duty directed by the Hon'ble Court. The same is reproduced as under:

Order 26 Rule 9 CPC. Commissions to make local investigations
In any suit in which the Court deems a local investigation to be requisite or proper for the purpose of elucidating any matter in dispute, or of ascertaining the market-value of any property, or the amount of any mesne profits or damages or annual net profits, the Court may issue a commission to such person as it thinks fit directing him to make such investigation and to report thereon to the Court".

The court can not visit the subject matter property or investigate into the matter directed itself. Hence Local Commissioners are appointed by the Court to carry out local investigation etc.

In matters pertaining to Intellectual Property Rights, the Local Commissioners are appointed by the Court to investigate into the violating activities of the Defendants.

The Local Commissioners are normally tasked with the responsibility to ascertain the extent of infringing activities of the Defendants and to seize the same under their seal, so that they can be produced to the Hon'ble Court as and when directed.

When products are sealed by the Local Commissioner , then it is duty of the Defendant to keep the seal intact. What happens in case defendant disobeys it. What is the sanctity of local commission executed in compliance of court order? How the court can make the relevant party to follow the orders passed by it?

In case the goods seized by the Local Commissioner during the course of local commissioner, are tampered then what remedy is available to the right holder?

An order with having sufficient authority to make others to obey it, is useless. If the violators are rest assured that there is no any plenary consequences, in case of defiance of the court order, they will keep on violating the court orders fearlessly.

Naturally the court must have sufficient authority to make others obey its command. An order , without having authority to make others to follow it, is useless. An order, without having plenary consequences , in case of violation, is teeth less.

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi , vide its ordered dated 21.07.2022 passed in Commercial Suit bearing CS Comm No. 264 of 2019, titled as Burnett Research Laboratory vs Burnett Homeopathy Pvt Ltd. answered this question.

In this subject matter Suit, not only the ex parte injunction was passed, but the Local Commissioner was appointed to visit the premise of Defendant for the purpose of seizing the violating products.

Accordingly the the Local Commissioner visited the premise of the Defendants and violating products of the defendant was seized.

In such a situation, the court does have power to enforce contempt of court proceedings against such violators. In case a defendant tampers with the goods seized during the execution of local commission, he may be held guilty of contempt of court. The hands of the court are equipped with sufficient authority to make others to follow its.

In this subject matter Suit, In spite of injunction order passed therein and in spite of being aware of that , the Defendant had not only tampered with the goods seized by the Local Commissioner but also removed the goods seized by the Local Commissioners. (Para 22)

As in the present case, the Defendant was found guilty of disobeying the court order , the same was held to be guilty to be published with contempt of court. (Para 23)

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi accordingly imposed a penalty of Rs. 25 Lakh upon the Defendants. Thus it it clear that hands of Court are not limited only to passing the order, but also are also well equipped to make others to follow it too.

If a Local Commissioner has been appointed to execute a particular work, the relevant party must comply with the direction passed during the course of local commissioner.

The goods seized by a local commissioner during the execution of Local Commission does amount to be contempt of court , for which a party can be held guilty to be punished for contempt of court.

Case Law Discussed:
Date Of Judgement: 21.07.2022
Case:Cs(Comm) 264/2019
Name Of Hon'ble Court: High Court Of Delhi
Name Of Hon'ble Judge: The Hon'ble Justice Navin Chawla
Case Title: Burnett Research Laboratory Vs Burnett Homeopathy Pvt. Ltd.

Written By: Ajay Amitabh Suman, IPR Advocate - Hon'ble High Court of Delhi
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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