Cement companies’ appeals
Referring a bunch of four appeals filed by Tamil Nadu-based cement companies to a larger bench, the Supreme Court has flayed the firms for their “wholly bald and vague assertions” in their petitions and also the Tamil Nadu government for “callous, imprecise counter”. However, it allowed the companies and the state to file all the details in a clear manner and tagged their appeals with another similar appeal, Mineral Area Development Authority & Ors vs Steel Authority of India & Ors, pending before it since 1999. The issue to be decided by the apex court is about the true legal character of the expression royalty under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, and whether it is a tax or a consideration for a contract of mining lease?
The Tamil Nadu government had in May 1982 addressed a letter to the collectors asking them to stop sharing 50% of the royalty and dead rent with the patta land holders in respect of mining leases and to collect the whole amount due as royalty and dead rent prescribed in the second and third schedules to the Act. Pursuant to the letter, the collectors called upon these companies to remit royalty and the dead rent at the rates prescribed under the Act. This was challenged by the firms in the Madras High Court on the ground that as a matter of right they were liable to pay only 50% of the royalty payable on extraction of the minerals as the right emanated from the law prevalent in regard to the subsoil rights.
IPAB to decide afresh
Setting aside the Intellectual Property Appellate Board’s (IPAB) decision, the Supreme Court has asked the board to decide afresh on merits a trademark dispute between the proprietor of Kundan Cables India and Balar Marketing Ltd. In this case, Lakha Ram Sharma vs Balar Marketing P Ltd & Ors, the former (the proprietor of Kundan Cables India) manufactured electric accessories and fittings under the trademark Kundan since 1980. It supplied its products with that name to Balar Marketing. In 1994, Kundan Cables came to know that Balar had been using the trade name Kundan. It filed a suit for injunction in a trial court in Delhi. During the pendency of the suit, Balar obtained registration of the trade mark in its favour. This prompted Sharma to move the Delhi High Court for cancellation of the registered trade