M/S.Tata Finance Ltd.
Now Tata Motors Ltd Vs. N.Poongodi & ANR.  INSC 69 (15 January 2009)
JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 286 OF 2009 (Arising out of S.L.P.(C)
No.12422/2008) M/s. Tata Finance Ltd. now Tata Motors Ltd. ...Appellant(s)
Versus N. Poongodi & Anr. ...Respondent(s) ORDER Leave granted.
In this case, vide
the impugned judgment, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices
Commission ('Commission' for short) has dismissed the application,
C.A.No.7/2007, filed by the appellant herein for deciding the issue of
maintainability of the Compensation Application bearing No. M.A.No.7/2007 as a
preliminary issue, hence, this Civil Appeal.
a non-banking financial institution. Respondents had entered into four hire
purchase agreements with the appellant, the details of which are given in
synopsis 'D' to the S.L.P. paper book. Disputes arose between the parties which
went to arbitration. Two Awards were given. Ultimately the matter came to this
Court by way of Special Leave Petition and the Awards stood confirmed. In the
process, a period of almost ten years elapsed. Pursuant ...2/- CA @ SLP(C)
to the Awards,
execution proceedings, including insolvency proceedings, have been taken. We do
not wish to comment about those proceedings as the matter is sub judice.
Suffice it to state
that after ten years, the Commission has been moved claiming damages in which
appellant herein raised the contention that it should decide the question of
maintainability of the above Compensation Application No.7/2007 as a
According to the appellant,
the said Compensation Application No.7/2007 amounts to abuse of process and it
is this issue which the appellant wanted the Commission to be decided as a
When the matter came
for hearing, we have examined the voluminous record threadbare. After examining
the entire record, without commenting on the merits of the case, we are of the
view that the Commission has erred in holding, vide para 11, that the question
of maintainability of Compensation Application No.7/2007 is a question of fact
and law which can be decided only when the evidence is led. It is important to
note that in this case what the Commission ought to have done is to have
examined the scope of the arbitration proceedings. It ought to have examined
the pleadings before the Arbitrator before coming to the conclusion as stated
hereinabove vide para 11 of the impugned judgment. The bare fact remains that
...3/- CA @ SLP(C) 12422/08 contd...
-3- after ten years
and after the parties have gone through the entire gamut of the various
proceedings, the matter has been moved before the Commission alleging unfair
trade practice. There are various nuances of the concept of abuse of process,
which includes moving the Commission after ten years. None of these aspects
have been examined by the Commission.
On the facts and
circumstances of this case, we are of the view that the Commission should frame
and decide the issue of the Complaint being an abuse of the process as a
preliminary issue before proceeding further in the matter. We do not wish to
express any opinion on that issue or on the merits of the case. We make it
clear that all contentions on the preliminary issue are kept open. Any
observation made in the impugned judgment as well as herein on merits will not
bind the Commission while deciding the preliminary issue.
Before concluding, we
are constrained to observe that certain allegations have been made in the
Compensation Application against the Chairperson of the Appellant Company. It
would be open to the Commission to examine at the threshold whether those
allegations have any relevance to the Complaint filed before the Commission
and, if it comes to the conclusion after hearing the parties that such
allegations have no relevance to the Compensation Application, then, it may
consider ordering deletion of such allegations.
Subject to what is
stated hereinabove, the impugned ...4/- CA @ SLP(C) 12422/08 contd...
-4- judgment is set
aside and the matter stands remitted to the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade
Practices Commission to frame and decide the above issue as a preliminary issue
within a period of four months.
Civil appeal is
allowed accordingly with no order as to costs.
...................J. (H.L. DATTU)
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