Read Order: Vijay Kumar v. District Jail through Superintendent Jail & Others 

While dealing with a civil revision petition, the Bench of Justice Alka Sarin of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that  the grant of an interlocutory injunction during the pendency of the legal proceeding is a matter requiring the exercise of discretion of the Court. 

It was further held, 

“While exercising the discretion the Court normally applies the following tests: i) whether the plaintiff has a prima facie case; ii) whether the balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff, and iii) whether the plaintiff would suffer an irreparable injury if his prayer for interlocutory injunction is disallowed.” 

The present petition was filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India challenging the orders of the Trial Court and the lower Appellate Court, respectively, dismissing the application filed by the plaintiff-petitioner under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 CPC read with Section 151 CPC.  

In January 2022 the plaintiff-petitioner filed a suit for a permanent injunction restraining the defendant-respondents from installing a petrol pump at a site in the revenue estate of Premgarh on the Hoshiarpur- Chandigarh Road, Tehsil and District Hoshiarpur. The suit was also for a mandatory injunction directing the defendant-respondent to withdraw the NOC issued for the installation of the petrol pump. According to the plaintiff-petitioner, the site for the petrol pump was in violation of the norms issued by the Indian Roads Congress. 

The plaintiff-petitioner also averred that the site also violated the norms notified on January 24, 2019, by the Government of Punjab. Along with the plaint, an application under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 CPC read with Section 151 CPC was also filed. 

Contending the suit the defendant averred that the plaintiff-petitioner was also running a Hindustan Petroleum petrol pump opposite to the Central Jail, Hoshiarpur and that the suit had been filed only to harass the defendant-respondents. It was further stated that the petrol pump was being installed for the rehabilitation and motivation of the prisoners confined in Central Jail, Hoshiarpur. It was further stated that all the work for installation of the petrol pump has been carried out as per guidelines and rules framed by the Government.

Trial Court dismissed the application filed by the plaintiff-petitioner under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 CPC read with Section 151 CPC. The appeal of the plaintiff-petitioner against the order was also dismissed. Hence, the present revision petition. 

Before the High Court, the case of the petitioner was that the Courts below erred in dismissing the application under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 CPC read with Section 151 CPC and refusing to grant an ad-interim order in favour of the plaintiff-petitioner. Attention of the Court was drawn to the site plan which showed the intersection of the 13-meter wide road in front of Punjab National Bank and the office of Improvement Trust with the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh Road on which the site for the petrol pump is situated. The site, as per this site plan, is at a distance of 64 meters from the intersection. 

It was argued that the site for the petrol pump was in violation of the norms issued by the Indian Roads Congress and also against the norms notified by the Government of Punjab and, as such, the Courts below ought to have granted the ad-interim injunction in favour of the plaintiff-petitioner. 

The Court noted at the very outset that both the Courts below found that there was no prima facie case in favour of the plaintiff-petitioner and neither was the balance of convenience in his favour. Further, the lower court found that the plaintiff-petitioner did not suffer any irreparable loss or injury if the relief claimed for is not granted in his favour. 

Further, on the grant of an interlocutory injunction during the pendency of the legal proceeding, the Court opined that the same is a matter requiring the exercise of discretion of the Court and while exercising the discretion the Court held that normally the Court applies the certain tests, namely,  whether the plaintiff has a prima facie case; whether the balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff; and whether the plaintiff would suffer an irreparable injury if his prayer for interlocutory injunction is disallowed.  

Elaborating on this legal position, the Court opined that the decision of whether or not to grant an interlocutory injunction has to be taken at a time when the exercise of the legal right asserted by the plaintiff and its alleged violation are both contested and remain uncertain till they are established on evidence at the trial. The relief by way of interlocutory injunction is granted to mitigate the risk of injustice to the plaintiff during the period before which that uncertainty could be resolved, held the Court while adding that 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.

Also, on balancing the interest of the parties, the Court added that the need for such protection has, however, to be weighed against the corresponding 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. 

“The Court must weigh one need against another and determine where the “balance of convenience” lies”, held the Court. 

Additionally, after considering the law laid down by the Supreme Court of the grant of injunction, the Court asserted that since the granting of such an injunction to a party who fails or would fail to establish his right at the trial may cause great injustice or irreparable harm to the party against whom it was granted or alternatively not granting of it to a party who succeeds or would succeed may equally cause great injustice or irreparable harm, the Courts have evolved the guidelines as mentioned above. 

“Being essentially an equitable relief, the grant or refusal of an interlocutory injunction shall ultimately rest in the sound judicial discretion of the Court to be exercised in the light of the facts and circumstances in each case”, added the Court. 

Addressing the argument of the petitioner on the violation of government norms, the Court observed that the applicability or otherwise of the said norms can be considered at the stage of interim injunction only for the limited purpose of ascertaining whether there is prima facie case in favour of the plaintiff-petitioner and not for the determination of the question finally.

Further, the Court opined that there was also no specific averment that the Chandigarh Road, on which the site is located, is a national highway, thus the Court was of the opinion that whether the said norms are at all applications can be considered and determined only during the trial of the suit. Also, it was noted that even the NOC granted in favour of the defendant-respondents made no mention of the norms issued by the Indian Roads Congress and the norms notified in 2019 by the Government of Punjab upon which strong reliance was placed by the counsel for the defendant-respondents. Also, the fact that the NOC made no mention of the site being on a national highway and that there was already a petrol pump near the petitioner’s house, were taken note of by the Court. 

Lastly, the Court considered that as per the written statement, the petrol pump is being set up for rehabilitation and motivation of the prisoners confined in the Central Jail, Hoshiarpur after constituting the Punjab Prison Development Board which Board has been established by the Punjab Prison Development Board Act, 2020.

In view of the above, the Court found that the plaintiff-petitioner failed to make out a prima facie case for the grant of an interim prohibitory injunction; he was also not able to convince the Court that the interim prohibitory injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable or serious injury which normally cannot be compensated in terms of money and that the balance of convenience is in his favour.  

Accordingly, finding no merit, the present revision petition was dismissed.

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