Trust a case over depilation products to bring out prickly observations from one of India’s wittiest judges. Gillette India and Reckitt Benckiser—respectively, makers of a women’s razor brand and a hair removal cream—are battling it out at the Bombay High Court over a defamatory ad. The plaintiff (Gillette) had requested a three-week extension after having missed the deadline for filing a rejoinder; it claimed a “substantial” reply from the defendant needed a substantial rejoinder.
Only, the judge hearing the matter, Justice GS Patel, is known for his sharp wit, and Gillette ended up getting cut bad. Irked at the delay, on February 23, Patel scheduled the next hearing on November 3, 2020—a good 192 weeks and five days later! Not only that, it was to be posted “very low on (the) board”.
Anticipating copious follow-up filings, Patel set a July 15, 2017, deadline. He then reasoned that the court would need time till November 2020 to read the 2,000 pages of filings likely to have accumulated. Cocking a snook at plaintiff’s tardiness, he said that the fact that the plaintiff had sought three weeks just to submit a rejoinder is evidence that “there is not the slightest urgency”. And, to penalise the waste of “scarce judicial time”, no request for priority hearing will be entertained until the plaintiff deposits R10 lakh as costs.
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Gillette should have known better than to get on the wrong side of this judge. When Go Air went to court against Indigo to get it to drop the first ‘go’ from goindigo.com claiming it was an IPR violation, Patel had observed that Go being fine with the trailing ‘go’ was “a small mercy”; otherwise, “Indigo should be rechristened Indi.” Similarly, with Google India also a party to the case, though not because of the ‘Go’ in its name, the judge had sarcastically observed that had been the case, all would have been forced to “ogle the web”!