The conduct of the parties during trial determine question whether the suit instituted is bona fide or not – Madras High Court

Whether it had already been decided or not is a question that must be addressed, and one that can only be resolved depending on the nature of the investigation sought by the respondent. That will be determined by the substance of the explanation provided by the petitioner. These were stated by the bench of Honourable Mr. Justice C.V. Karthikeyan in the case M/s. Mugavai Indane Gas Agency v. The General Manager (W.P.(MD)No.9838 of 2021)

The gist of the case is, the sole proprietor(petitioner) gas agency was declared and selected for LPG distributorship at Ramanathapuram District by the respondent by order, dated 08.08.2016. As part of distributorship, it was necessary that the petitioner had lands for construction of godown for storing the LPG cylinders and independently, further lands for construction of a show room, where the gas cylinders can be actually exhibited and sold to customers. The petitioner did not have either of the two lands. The petitioner had stated that he had entered into lease deeds, with his relatives Mr. Muniyandi and Mrs. Subbulakshmi, respectively with respect to their lands to be utilised for the aforesaid purposes. He was permitted to put up a construction in the aforesaid lands. Two individuals, namely, M. Muniyandi and G. Subbulakshmi had prepared a partnership deed, in which, the petitioner was shown as first party/Managing Director and the other two were shown as second and third parties and that they had commenced the partnership firm calling “Mugavai Indane Gas Agency”. The petitioner claiming that the said partnership deed was the result of fraud being committed owing to his signatures in blank papers being utilised unauthorisedly. A further relief was also sought against the other two individuals, namely, M. Muniyandi and G. Subbulakshmi, with whom he had entered into lease deeds, seeking to restrain them from interfering with his possession of the properties which had been leased out to him, except by due process of law and a further permanent injunction was also sought against the signatories in the partnership deed, restraining them from interfering with the business, “Mugavai Indane Gas Agency”.

The learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner insisted that in the peculiar circumstances of the case, interference is warranted, particularly, because a reading of the show cause notice would clearly indicate that the respondent had come to a conclusion that the petitioner had actually violated the terms of the distributorship agreement and therefore, any explanation given would be only rejected. In this connection, the learned Senior Counsel placed reliance on a judgment of the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Siemens Limited vs State of Maharastra and others, (2006) 12 SCC 33.

Here in the case the bench of Honourable Mr. Justice C.V. Karthikeyan dismissed the Writ Petition and stated “In view of these facts, let me not enter into any further discussion on the relationship between the petitioner with his lessors or with those from whom he had borrowed money or with respect to the suit which had instituted, but rather confine myself to the show cause notice, which had been issued by the respondent and direct the petitioner to answer the show cause notice. In the show cause notice, it is mentioned that 15 days’ time is granted to the petitioner. The same time line is now confirmed by this Court and the petitioner is directed to give his explanation to the show cause notice within a period of fifteen days from the date on which a copy of this order is uploaded in the High Court website.

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Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan

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