The Reserve Bank of India recently directed several banks to start insolvency resolution proceedings against a list of identified companies, including Jaypee Infratech Limited, a leading real estate development company. The case has highlighted the need for the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 to recognise a wider class of creditors that can initiate an insolvency proceeding and participate meaningfully in such process. It has also emphasised the important role that financial creditors play.
The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018 was recently passed in the Lok Sabha. The new bill has been welcomed as it provides much-needed clarity regarding the use and storage of Aadhaar numbers. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has taken the bill's enactment as a cue to start providing clarity on the collection and storage of customers' Aadhaar data. It is hoped that the bill will be enacted quickly, as it is unenforceable in its present form.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Re-insurance) Regulations 2018 were notified on 12 December 2018 and came into force on 1 January 2019. As well as streamlining filing requirements and processes, the regulations consolidate the existing regulations for life and general reinsurance business into a uniform set of provisions for reinsurance business in India.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India recently introduced changes to the regulations governing motor insurance in India. Under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, insurance cover for third-party liability is mandatory for all motor vehicles at the time of purchase. However, until recently, this third-party liability insurance had a mandatory one-year cover term and had to be renewed by the policyholder each year.
Although blockchain is relatively new, India has seen a few segmental adoptions of the technology, with some public authorities – including the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India – acknowledging its potential benefits. Further, recent press reports have indicated that some insurers have already started contemplating various ways in which to implement the technology.
In recent years, the Indian insurance sector has been abuzz with the news of new players looking to acquire stakes in insurers and insurance intermediaries. While the Insurance Act 1938 provides for the manner in which insurers may carry out amalgamations and transfers of insurance business, the regulations governing the amalgamation or transfer of an insurance intermediary's business remain scattered and, in some cases, non-existent.
The Copyright Act specifically addresses authors' special rights, which comprise the right to claim authorship of a work and the right to prevent any distortion, modification or mutilation of a work which would be prejudicial to the author's reputation. While jurisprudence on moral rights is still relatively limited, a few foundational cases are emblematic of India's approach and the associated legal issues.
In Banyan Tree Holding v A Murali Krishna Reddy the Delhi High Court clarified the importance and scope of the special jurisdiction provision (ie, Section 62 of the Copyright Act 1957). However, there seems to be a school of thought that Section 62 vests Indian courts with untrammelled long-arm jurisdiction even in strictly extraterritorial situations.
The Supreme Court recently issued its much-anticipated decision in IPRS v Sanjay Dalia. The case considered the interpretation of the special jurisdiction provisions in Section 62 of the Copyright Act and Section 134 of the Trademarks Act. The court held that if a cause of action arises at the place where the plaintiff's principal office is located, it cannot rely on Section 62 or Section 134 to institute a suit where its branch office is located.
A streamlined framework for rectification of a company name is now available under the Companies Act 2013. Under the new act, the registered proprietor of a trademark can apply for rectification of a company name that is identical to or too closely resembles the registered trademark. In addition, the owner of an unregistered trademark which is used as a company name may use Section 16(1)(a) of the act as an alternative remedy to a passing-off suit.
Circular 41 was issued in order to clarify the rules regarding Customs' right to suspend the clearance of goods that allegedly infringe patents, designs or geographical indications. However, the circular is unclear, as it both clarifies that Customs must wait for a court order before suspending the clearance of allegedly infringing goods and states that Customs can suspend goods without a court order if it exercises extreme caution.
The Bombay High Court recently upheld the constitutionality of the Maharashtra Tax on Lotteries Act 2006. The legality and taxation of lottery schemes in Maharashtra has been at the centre of a catena of judgments, including State of Bombay v RMD Chamarbaugwala and Writ Petition 854/2007. The latest judgment clarifies that the taxation of lotteries falls within the ambit of the term 'betting and gambling' under Entry 62 of the State List of the Constitution.
In order to keep pace with rapid economic growth, the Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill 2017 proposes to introduce provisions to facilitate the enforcement of contracts. Among other things, the bill proposes to remove the courts' discretionary power to decree specific performance, permit substituted performance by a third party, set up special courts for dealing exclusively with suits relating to infrastructure claims and prevent the courts from granting injunctions in contracts relating to an infrastructure project.
The Supreme Court recently issued two judgments regarding consumer law. In the first, the Supreme Court held that the courts should take a pragmatic view of consumers' rights considering their relative disadvantage with regard to suppliers of goods or services. In the second, the court held that, in the context of a vehicle insurance policy, the mere failure of the vehicle owner to intimate the insurer immediately after the theft of the vehicle should not bar settlement of genuine claims.
In an important recent case regarding contract law, the Supreme Court held that the commercial courts should not seek to interpret the implied terms of a contract. In a second notable case, the court examined whether an increase in coal prices (due to a change in Indonesian law) could be cited as a force majeure event by certain power-generating companies that were sourcing coal from Indonesia. Finally, the court also recently issued an important decision in a suit for damages and wrongful termination.
The most important criminal law Supreme Court judgments in 2017 included a case which held that Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, on the grant of bail, violates the right to equality and right to life. Elsewhere, the court clarified the criteria for quashing criminal proceedings and issued certain guidelines in order to prevent the misuse of Section 498A of the Penal Code.
The recently constituted Shyam Benegal Committee has made recommendations on the functions of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in order to provide a holistic framework with a focus on limiting the CBFC's power to issue certificates, not censor films. It recommends that the CBFC should be a film certification body only, one whose scope is restricted to categorising the suitability of films on the basis of viewers' age and maturity.