This article is written by Adarsh Anand Amola of 7th Trimester of IIM Rohtak, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
This article explores the legal principles governing provisional remedies, specifically temporary injunctions, in the context of legal proceedings. It discusses the well-established doctrine that allows the court to grant provisional relief in support of the primary remedy available to parties upon the final determination of their legal rights. Temporary injunctions, issued during ongoing legal proceedings, are examined in detail. The article highlights the distinctions between prohibitory and mandatory injunctions and provides a notable legal case to illustrate these concepts.
Keywords: Order XXXIX, Temporary Injunction, Breach, Conditions, Principles
In accordance with established legal precedent, it is a well-accepted legal doctrine that provisional remedies can be granted in support of and supplementary to the principal remedy available to a party upon the final determination of their rights in a lawsuit or any other legal proceeding. Consequently, a court unmistakably possesses the authority to bestow provisional relief while a lawsuit is ongoing. Temporary injunctions, therefore, refer to injunctions issued during the pendency of legal proceedings.
An injunction represents a judicial process whereby a party is compelled to either perform a specific action or refrain from engaging in a particular act. This is a remedial measure in the form of a court order directed at an individual that either forbids them from engaging in or continuing a specific act (prohibitory injunction) or instructs them to execute a certain act (mandatory injunction).
In the case of Food Corporation of India v. Sukha Deo Prasad, the landlord secured a loan from a bank to construct storage facilities for the tenant. When the landlord defaulted, the bank initiated legal action to recover the outstanding loan amount along with interest. The bank sought a court order directing the tenant to deposit the arrears of rent and continue making rent payments to the court, with the provision that failure to comply would result in interest payment. This particular application did not fall within the purview of rules 1 and 2 of Order XXXIX. As a result, it was determined that the interim directive to the tenant to deposit rent arrears with the court and continue making rent payments to the court, with the condition that failure to comply would incur interest, did not constitute an injunction. An order to make a monetary payment, whether as a final judgment or a provisional order, does not fall under the category of injunctions.
Injunctions can be categorized into two types:
A permanent injunction permanently prohibits a party from engaging in a specified act and can only be granted based on the merits at the conclusion of the trial, following a thorough examination of the claims of both parties involved in the lawsuit. The relevant legal provisions governing permanent injunctions are found in sections 30 to 42 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.
Conversely, a temporary or interim injunction is one that temporarily restrains a party from performing a specified act and can only be granted until the lawsuit is resolved or until the court issues further orders. These temporary injunctions are subject to the provisions outlined in Order XXXIX of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and can be granted at any stage of the legal proceedings.
Who can apply temporary injunction?
An Injunction can be requested by both the plaintiff and the defendant in a legal dispute, with each party having the right to seek this remedy against the other. However, it’s important to note that an Injunction can exclusively be issued against a party involved in the case and cannot be directed towards individuals who are not part of the legal proceedings or third parties.
Additionally, it’s essential to understand that an Injunction cannot be sought against a court or its judicial officers, as this legal remedy is designed to regulate the actions of the parties involved in the dispute rather than those of the court or its officials.
When Temporary Injunction is Granted
The issuance of a temporary injunction falls within the discretion of the Court and is to be judiciously exercised in accordance with established legal principles.
Order XXXIX, Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, stipulates that in any lawsuit, it can be demonstrated by affidavit or other means that:
(a) there is a risk that any property in question may be wasted, damaged, or transferred by any party to the suit or wrongfully sold off as a result of a decree;
(b) the defendant is making threats or intends to dispose of their property with the intention to defraud creditors;
(c) the defendant is making threats to dispossess the plaintiff or otherwise cause harm to the plaintiff concerning any property in dispute in the suit; or
(d) when the court deems it necessary in the interest of justice [Manohar Lai v. Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hiralal]. It is essential to note that the application for an interim injunction is not restricted to the plaintiff alone; a defendant can also seek an injunction against the plaintiff.
Order XXXIX, Rule 2 allows for injunctions to prevent or restrain the continuation of breaches. In suits seeking to prevent the defendant from violating a contract or causing any form of harm, whether or not compensation is sought in the suit, the plaintiff may apply to the Court for a temporary injunction to prohibit the defendant from committing the alleged breach or harm, either before or after judgment, as the case may be. The Court has the authority to grant such an injunction with stipulations on its duration, the keeping of accounts, the provision of security, or any other appropriate terms.
Grounds for the Grant of Temporary Injunctions
In the case of Kashinath Sansthan v. Srimad Sudhindra Thirtha Swamy AIR 2010 SC 296, the court set forth the conditions for the grant of a temporary injunction as follows:
To secure an injunction, the party seeking it must establish a prima facie case meriting trial, demonstrate that the balance of convenience favors their position, and prove that they would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted. It is, however, firmly established that if a party fails to establish a prima facie case for trial, the considerations regarding the balance of convenience and the potential for irreparable harm to that party are immaterial. In other words, if a party does not establish a prima facie case warranting a trial, the court cannot grant an injunction in their favor, even if the balance of convenience and the likelihood of suffering irreparable harm weigh in their favor.
Principles Governing the Grant of Temporary Injunction
Prior to the issuance of a temporary injunction, the following prerequisites must be met:
(i) There must exist a prima facie case favoring the plaintiff and opposing the defendant.
(ii) The plaintiff must be at risk of suffering irreparable harm that cannot be compensated for with monetary relief.
(iii) The balance of convenience should favor the plaintiff rather than the defendant.
(iv) The plaintiff’s conduct must be characterized by fairness and honesty.
Elucidating the extent and purview of the term “prima facie” case, as articulated in Martin Burn Ltd. v. R.N. Banerjee, the Supreme Court expounded:
“A prima facie case does not signify a case proven beyond a doubt but a case that can be considered established if the evidence presented in support thereof were accepted. When determining whether a case is prima facie, the pertinent consideration is whether, based on the evidence provided, it was possible to arrive at the conclusion in question, not whether that was the sole conclusion possible based on that evidence.”
In essence, the Court must be convinced that the applicant has raised a genuine dispute and, based on the available facts, there is a likelihood of the applicant succeeding in obtaining the relief sought.
In Mandati Ranganna v. T. Ramachandra, it was established that when evaluating an injunction application, the Court must not only take into account the fundamental components thereof, namely the presence of a prima facie case, the balance of convenience, and the likelihood of irreparable injury but also consider the behavior of the parties. The issuance of an injunction is an equitable remedy. A person who has remained passive for an extended period and permitted another party to exclusively deal with the property ordinarily may not be entitled to an injunction order. The Court should not intervene solely on the basis of the property’s high value. In such matters, the Court should make every effort to safeguard the interests of all parties involved.
In Paidsetti Bhanknarayna v. Paidsetti Rajeshwar Rao AIR 1999 Ori 92, it was observed that it is not imperative for the plaintiff to substantiate their title to the property in question. It suffices for the plaintiff to demonstrate that they possess a reasonable question to raise regarding the existence of the right they assert and can persuade the Court that the disputed property should be maintained in its current state until such a question is resolved.
When temporary injunction cannot be granted?
As a general rule, the legal system provides courts with protection against temporary injunctions under the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) to preserve their independence and ensure the effective administration of justice. This foundational concept is based on the principle of judicial immunity, as it is crucial for courts and judges to have safeguards in place that allow them to carry out their duties without undue interference. Nonetheless, there exist specific and limited circumstances where an injunction may indirectly influence the actions or decisions of a court.
For example, if a court oversteps its jurisdiction or disregards established legal principles, a party may seek recourse from a higher court through means such as certiorari or prohibition. These legal remedies can indirectly impact the proceedings of the court in question. Furthermore, in situations where a court is engaged in administrative or non-judicial functions, it may become subject to injunctions in those particular contexts.
It is important to emphasize that such scenarios are infrequent and exceptional. In the broader context, the immunity from injunctions granted to courts serves the purpose of upholding the proper administration of justice and preserving the integrity of the judicial process.
Consequences of Disobeying or Breaching an Injunction
(1) In the event of non-compliance with or breach of an order issued under rules 1 and 2, the Court that granted the injunction or made the order, or any court to which the lawsuit has been transferred, may issue an order for the attachment of the property of the violator and may also order the detention of such individual in a civil prison for a period not exceeding three months, unless the Court directs their release in the interim.
(2) Any attachment established under this rule shall not remain in effect for more than one year. At the end of this period, if the disobedience or breach persists, the attached property may be sold, and from the proceeds, the Court may award appropriate compensation to the injured party, with any remaining amount being allocated to the entitled party.
In summary, the repercussions for breaching an injunction include:
(i) The potential attachment of the property in question.
(ii) The possibility of imprisonment in a civil prison.
(iii) In cases where the breach continues beyond a specified duration, the potential sale of the attached property.
It’s important to note that a person may be subject to legal proceedings under Order XXXIX, rule 2A, even if they were not directly involved as a party in the lawsuit, provided it can be demonstrated that they acted as an agent or servant of the defendant and violated the injunction order despite having knowledge of its existence [Ram Prasad Singh v. Subhodh Prasad Singh; Brijendra Prasad Narain Singh v. State of Bihar AIR 1963 Pat 449].
The term ‘person’ mentioned in sub-rule (2A) was used as a comprehensive label to encompass all individuals within the group, including the defendant, their agents, servants, and workers. This designation was not intended to exclude any defendant against whom the injunction order was originally issued. Otherwise, the injunction order would be rendered ineffective, and its enforcement mechanism would be futile if it did not extend to all parties subject to the injunction.
In the case of Shiv Kumar Chadha (Appellant) v. M.C.D. the Court considered appeals against an order of the Delhi High Court directing the issuance of notices for buildings with illegal constructions. The appellants sought the intervention of the Supreme Court to challenge the part of the order stating:
“No civil suit will be entertained by any Court in Delhi in respect of any action taken or proposed to be taken by the corporation with regard to sealing or demolition of any building or any part thereof.” However, individuals aggrieved by the order of sealing or demolition do have the right to appeal to the Appellate Tribunal under the Municipal Act, which has the authority to grant interim relief. The clear intention of this order is to exclude the jurisdiction of courts in Delhi to entertain suits related to the demolition of any part of a building considered unauthorized and illegal by the corporation.
Temporary injunctions play a crucial role in the legal landscape, allowing courts to provide interim relief to parties in ongoing legal proceedings. The article emphasizes the necessity of establishing a prima facie case, demonstrating irreparable harm, and balancing the convenience of the parties when seeking a temporary injunction. It also outlines the consequences of disobeying or breaching an injunction. This comprehensive overview sheds light on the legal intricacies surrounding temporary injunctions and their significance in the realm of provisional remedies.
 Food Corporation of India v. Sukha Deo Prasad AIR 2009 SC 2330
 The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, No. 5, Acts of Parliament, 1908 (India).
 The Specific Relief Act, 1963, No. 47, § 30-42 Acts of Parliament, 1963(India).
 supra note 2, at 2.
 supra note 2, at 2.
 Manohar Lai v. Rai Bahadur Rao Raja Seth Hiralal AIR 1962 SC 527
 supra note 2, at 2.
 Kashinath Sansthan v. Srimad Sudhindra Thirtha Swamy AIR 2010 SC 296
 Martin Burn Ltd. v. R.N. Banerjee AIR 1958 SC 79
 Mandati Ranganna v. T. Ramachandra AIR 2008 SC 229
 Paidsetti Bhanknarayna v. Paidsetti Rajeshwar Rao AIR 1999 Ori 92
 supra note 2, at 2.
 supra note 2, at 2.
 Ram Prasad Singh v. Subhodh Prasad Singh AIR 1983 Pat 278
 Brijendra Prasad Narain Singh v. State of Bihar AIR 1963 Pat 449
 supra note 2, at 2.
 supra note 14 at 6
 Shiv Kumar Chadha (Appellant) v. M.C.D. (1993) 3 SCC 161