The Thodu Tangle: The Karnataka High Court Validates Villagers’ Concerns on Bridge Construction.

Samad A.A. & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors.

Writ Appeal No.: 636 OF 2024

Court: High Court of Karnataka.

Coram: Hon’ble J. B.M. Shyam Prasad, J. T.G. Shivashankare Gowda.

The High Court of Karnataka delivered a judgment on May 2, 2024, on a writ appeal filed against an interim order dated 18.03. 2024. The interim order directed the Deputy Commissioner of Madikeri to remove a concrete road constructed on a thodu within four weeks.



The appellants are the residents of Mugatageri village in Kodagu District. A concrete road has been put up on the thodu (a small stream or water channel) in their locality, which might have resulted in the stagnation of water. The initial petition was filed by Sri K.K. Deepak against various state officials and local authorities responsible for the construction and maintenance of the road. After this, there were directions to remove the concrete road, but actions were yet to be taken due to the election.



  1. Whether the appellant’s rights would be affected by the implementation of the interim order directing the removal of the concrete land?
  2. Whether the appellants should have been impleaded as parties in the writ petition before passing the interim order?



  • Section 4  of the Karnataka High Court Act, 1961, under which the appeal was filed.
  • Rule 27 of the Writ Proceedings Rules, 1977, states that a certiorari writ petition must include certified or authenticated copies of the order to be quashed and, if applicable, copies of orders from all involved authorities.
  • Additionally, the case involves principles under environmental protection laws concerning water bodies.


The learned counsel for the appellants contended that the implementation of the interim order directing the removal of the concrete road would affect their rights as they were not made parties to the original writ petition. Thus, their rights and interests were only considered after passing the interim order. The petitioners argued that the construction of concrete roads over thodu may have led to significant water stagnation, affecting the local land properties. They also contended that despite the direction of the Tahsildar, the Panchayat Development Officer, to remove the concrete road, no action was taken.


The learned Additional Government Advocate, representing the respondents, submitted that the interim order could not be implemented due to the elections during the time of order. However, he did not oppose the appellant’s contention that they should have been included and heard before passing the interim order to address their concerns appropriately.


The Hon’ble High Court recognized the environmental issues resulting from the construction of the road over the thodu. It observed that the grievances of the appellants regarding the interim order and their concerns were valid as they were not given an opportunity to present their case in the original writ proceedings. The Court acknowledged the delay due to elections and deemed it necessary to provide the appellants an opportunity to file the applications.


The case above is an example of the importance given to the principles of natural justice by the courts. The courts allowed the appellants to be heard before the implementation of an order that might affect their rights. This case highlights the necessity of ensuring that all parties are heard in judicial proceedings. It also underscores the importance of maintaining natural environments and addressing the impact of infrastructure projects on the environment.

Judgement reviewed by Maria Therese Syriac.

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Delhi High Court Affirms ITAT’s Authority to Directly Remit Cases to TPO, Renders AO’s Second Reference Redundant

 Case Name: New Delhi Television Ltd. v. Dispute Resolution Panel 2 & Anr 

Case No.: W.P.(C) 2322/2021 

Dated: May20, 2024 

Quorum: Justice Yashwanth Varma and Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav 



The writ petitioner challenges the Dispute Resolution panel’s ruling. Panel from January 29, 2021, which has refuted its concerns about the preliminary evaluation order formulated on March 31, 2013. That particular draft the evaluation order was created in response to a directive issued by the Officer of Transfer Pricing on October 29, 2019. It appears that the petitioner to have argued before the DRP that, in essence, the reference to the TPO on December 27, 2018, was a follow-up reference to allegedly implement the Income Tax Appellate Court’s ruling tribunal on July 14, 2017.  

Despite having framed an order on October 17, 2017, the record would show that no equivalent order as required by Income Tax Act, 1961 Section 92CA(4) was framed. In order to give effect to the original ITAT order dated July 14, 2017, the petitioner had urged the DRP to consider that the reference made on December 27, 2018, as well as the consequential order dated October 29, 2019, framed by the TPO, were manifestly barred by the statute of limitations as embodied in Section 153(3) of the Act. 

Nevertheless, the DRP declined to consider the restriction challenge, pointing out that Section 144C(8) limits its authority to verifying, modifying, or improving the changes suggested in the draft order. It seems to have essentially adopted the stance that it could not consider a jurisdictional challenge brought forth as an objection under Section 144C(2) of the Act. It is offended by the aforementioned action, which led to the current writ petition being filed.  

According to the Special Bench’s previously stated opinion, it seems that the appeal itself was instructed to be presented before the suitable ITAT Bench for resolution with regard to the findings as produced. It would be relevant to remember that on July 14, the ITAT when discussing the topic of corporate guarantees in 2017, returned the matter with the warning for the TPO’s consideration. That the aforementioned query will be held until the decision was made by the Particular Bench in the ongoing case.  


  • Section 92CA(4) of the Income Tax Act, 1961- After receiving the order under sub-section (3), the Assessing Officer will calculate the assessee’s total income under section 92C, sub-section (4), taking into account the arm’s length price that the Transfer Pricing Officer determined under sub-section (3). 
  • Section 153(3) of the Income Tax Act– An order under section 254 or section 263 or section 264, setting aside or cancelling an assessment or an order under section 92CA, as the case may be, may be made at any time before the end of the nine-month period following the end of the fiscal year in which the order under section 254 is received by the Principal Chief Commissioner or Chief Commissioner or Commissioner or, as the case may be, the order under section 263 or section 264 is passed by the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner. 


The learned counsel for the appellants fiercely and strongly argued that a reading of the ITAT’s order dated July 14, 2017, makes it clear that the parties’ permission was obtained before the TPO was mentioned. Mr Jolly emphasised that the respondents had not contested the order dated July 14, 2017, insofar as it related to the referral to the TPO. As a result, they were ineligible to criticise or raise doubts about the propriety of the process used by the ITAT to make that referral. 

It was also emphasised that while the respondents filed appeals on January 02, 2018, against the ITAT’s order dated July 14, 2017, those appeals are limited to the merits of the several issues that were ultimately decided. Even in those appeals, which The learned counsel filed, the respondents do not criticise or cast doubt on the propriety of the ITAT’s decision to forward the case to the TPO.  

The learned counsel went on to say that a simple reading of the TPO’s first ruling, dated October 17, 2017, would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the aforementioned authority had acted in accordance with the ITAT’s instructions and to give effect to and carry out the order dated July 14, 2017.  

The TPO’s reference and assumption of jurisdiction were subsequently challenged on the basis of limitation as outlined in Section 153 of the Act. The learned counsel contended that the time frame within which the AO or the TPO could have concluded that exercise would be governed by Section 153(3) of the Act, unquestionably in terms of the order of July 14, 2017, and which would clearly be liable to be read as requiring a fresh assessment to be undertaken.  

When considering this, skilled counsel argued that the deadline for creating a draft appeal effect order would have ended on December 31, 2018. The learned counsel stated that this would logically follow from the Act’s Section 153(3)’s straightforward language.   


The arguments put forward by the learned counsel for the appellants were sharply and passionately rejected by the learned counsel for originally filed a preliminary objection, arguing that the writ petition should not be granted in defiance of the DRP’s directives. According to The learned counsel’s submission, Section 144C of the Act establishes a unique method to address situations in which alterations in transfer pricing may lead to variances. According to The learned counsel’s submission, qualified assessees are provided with a draft assessment order in all circumstances whereby they are entitled to file objections with the DRP under the Act. It was mentioned that after the DRP rejects those objections, the issue is brought before the AO, who would then decide whether to issue an assessment order.  

As per the advice of knowledgeable legal counsel, an assessee’s entitlement to challenge the respondents’ actions or pursue legal remedies will only be acknowledged upon the drafting of a final assessment decision that follows the DRP’s directives. The learned counsel argued that the DRP’s resolution of objections does not create a liability and is merely a step towards assessment in the event that the assessee is eligible. According to knowledgeable counsel, a tax liability wouldn’t materialise until after a final assessment decision was approved and was subject to an ITAT appeal.  

Subsequently, it was argued that the challenge to the DRP’s recommendations is misguided because it is evident that the aforementioned authority lacks the authority to consider any potential jurisdictional issues, including objections to limitations. It was argued that the DRP’s authority is limited to “confirming, reducing or enhancing the variations proposed,” as would be clear from Section 144C(8) of the Act. The learned counsel argues that this authority cannot be seen as equivalent to or similar to the authority to set aside.  


First, the court noted that the provisions included in the Finance Act, 2016 were the first to introduce and structure the “nine” and “twelve” month window governing assessments to be made post remit by the ITAT and in cases where a reference under Section 92CA(1) of the Act may be made during an ongoing assessment. Section 153 of the Finance Act, 2014 fully acknowledged and established provisions regarding assessments that may need to be made in compliance with the method outlined under Section 92CA of the Act. This is the second aspect of some relevance.  

After outlining the main points of contention, we believe it is fair to take a closer look at Mr. Hossain’s preliminary objection. Recall that Mr. Hossain had argued that the petitioner was only contesting a DRP order, which in any event carries no legal consequences. The main argument of the submission was that this Court would not be able to use the Article 226 of the Constitution’s jurisdiction if no corresponding order of assessment had been framed. For the following reasons, we are unable to support that objection.  

The court also noted that the Act’s Section 92CA(1) specifies that the concerned AO alone may refer to the TPO. Nonetheless, we see no reason to question the ITAT’s authority to make such a reference while reviewing an appeal that might be brought before it, given the stature and position that have been bestowed upon it. This is because, according to Section 253 of the Act, an assessee has the right to contest a directive that the DRP issued and that may have been converted into a real assessment order.  

The court also discovered that the ITAT’s order referring the case to the “Assessing Officer/Transfer Pricing Officer/Dispute Resolution Panel” was at issue in the ruling made by a knowledgeable single judge of the Karnataka High Court in the TE Connectivity case.  

In any event, the High Court finally ruled in favour of the assessee in that particular case. We are unable to find any observation or conclusion in that decision that might be interpreted as supporting the arguments made by the respondents in this particular process.  

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Judgment reviewed by Riddhi S Bhora. 

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A way towards transparency : CCPA on dark patterns

Introduction :

Dark patterns are a consumer tactic that is used to manipulate the choices of the user. For example, when someone is purchasing from an online store, the price of the product is exclusive of the taxes and delivery charges. The price the consumer opted for is more than what was shown in the initial stage. Dark pattern is a blanket term in which the user has to deliberately make a choice to consume what they need. There are many circumstances where exploitation of the consumer takes place due to these underlying dark patterns. Examples include unnecessary pop-up boxes which automatically drive the consumer away from the product or service they require[1].

The government of India has legislated the use of these patterns in the guidelines issued by the Consumer Protection Authority of India called the “Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023”

Other authorities on Dark Patterns :

In India, the major shield consumers have against any exploitation is the Consumer Protection Act, of 2019. Section 2(9)[2] defines consumer rights and it includes the right to be protected against harmful marketing and, right to be informed about the nature of the goods or services. The act of tricking a consumer into buying something or not providing the whole truth initially can be labelled as a violation of consumer rights along with unfair trade practices dealt with under Section 47[3] of the Act.

In the event of a violation of consumer rights, the Central Consumer Protection Authority issues guidelines to prevent unfair trade practices. Noncompliance with any orders passed by CCPA can lead to imprisonment of 6 months or a fine of up to Rs.20 lakhs or both[4]. In addition, the CPA punishes creating deceptive or misleading advertisements that harm customers’ interests. Penalties include up to two years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 10 Lakh. Moreover, a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of Rs.50 lakh may be applied for repeat offences. These penalties can also be applied for each additional violation[5].

The E-commerce Rules, 2020 is a regulatory framework which governs the goods and services bought online. It prohibits all sorts of unfair trade practices causing the dominant position of one particular company. Rule 4(3)[6] provides that “ No e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise.”

On June 15, 2023 the Advertising Standards Council of India, a self-regulatory body released the guidelines called the “Guidelines for Online Deceptive Design Patterns in Advertising”. It aimed to prevent drip pricing, which is the concept of deceiving the consumers from the actual prices at the end. The practice of baits in online advertisements were also prohibited by the guidelines or providing alternative products instead of the original one. Alongside these prohibitions, the guidelines also focussed on preventing disguised advertisements from other sites in the product page.

Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023

The central consumer protection authority exercises of its powers under Section 18 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019[7] and issued the guidelines on November 30th, 2023. The guidelines define dark patterns as :

“ “Dark patterns” shall mean any practices or deceptive design patterns using UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interactions on any platform; designed to mislead or trick users into doing something they originally did not intend or want to do; by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice; amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights;”[8]

Under Section 5 of the guidelines, if any person or platform does something that is under Annexure I, will be said to have engaged in dark patterns. Annexure I of the guidelines contains the specified dark patterns which are strictly prohibited. There are in total 10 specified dark patterns which are prohibited.

Specified Dark Patterns :

The CCPA has outlined specific deceptive designs or illustrations as to what constitutes a dark pattern, they are[9] :

  1. False Urgency : It means falsely implying the product is running out of stock or creating a sense of urgency to mislead a user into buying the product. For example, A website showing only 2 are in stock while 30 others are looking to buy the same thing falsely is prohibited.
  2. Basket sneaking : It means the inclusion of additional products which was not added by the user during checkout wherein the total amount payable has increased as a result. However, in the proviso it was mentioned that providing complementary samples is not basket sneaking.
  3. Confirm Shaming : It means when the provider uses shame, guilt or fear in the user for not buying or using their product. For example, A platform that adds a charity in the basket using a phrase “charity is for rich, I don’t care.” would be deemed as a dark pattern.
  4. Forced Action : It means when the user is forced to take some action which would require them to buy an additional product or sign up for a service. Eg: Forcing the user tp subscribe to a newsletter to purchase a product.
  5.  Subscription trap : This occurs when the user is unable to cancel their subscription or when the process is too lengthy or elaborate. It also includes forcing auto-debits without easy cancellation policy.
  6. Interface interference : It means designing a feature wherein the user is manipulated into doing something they normally wouldn’t do if not for the feature. For example, An ‘X’ icon on the top-right corner of a pop-up screen leads to opening-up of another ad rather than closing it.
  7. Bait and Switch : It refers to the practice of advertising a particular outcome based on the user’s action but deceptively serving an alternate outcome. Eg : A seller offers a quality product at a cheap price but when the consumer is about to pay/buy, the seller states that the product is no longer available and instead offers a similar looking product but more expensive.
  8. Drip Pricing : Means when the prices are changed or different while checkout would be referred to as a dark pattern.
  9. Disguised advertisement : It means a practice of posing, and masking advertisements as other types of content such as user-generated content or new articles or false advertisements.
  10. Nagging : It refers to when a website causes a lot of interruptions while browsing such as requests, options, information which are unrelated to the purchase disrupting the intended transaction. Eg : Websites asking a user to download their app, again and again.


This guideline can act as a step towards transparency in the e-commerce market regime of India. However, it also requires the authorities to keenly ensure companies follow it and in the right circumstances curb these actions. The objective of the guidelines is to provide a better online experience to users and prevent them from exploitation. The same can only be brought into reality if there is proper enforcement.

“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”

Written by- Sanjana Ravichandran

[1] Gargi Sarkar, Govt Issues List of 13 Dark Patterns Plauging Ecommerce Websites, INC42 (Dec 04, 2023) https://inc42.com/buzz/govt-issues-list-of-13-dark-patterns-plaguing-ecommerce-websites/

[2] The Consumer protection Act, 2019 No. 36, Acts of Parliament, 2019 (India)

[3] Sec 47, “unfair trade practice” means a trade practice which, for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, adopts any unfair method or unfair or deceptive practice. The Consumer protection Act, 2019 No. 36, Acts of Parliament, 2019 (India)

[4] Advait Luthra, Ananya Mishra, India: ASCI Guidelines On Dark Patterns And The Way Forward, MONDAQ, (Aug 29, 2023) https://www.mondaq.com/india/dodd-frank-consumer-protection-act/1358384/asci-guidelines-on-dark-patterns-and-the-way-forward#:~:text=Dark%20patterns%20are%20basically%20user,for%20reviews%2C%20and%20so%20on.

[5] The consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020.

[6] The consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020.

[7]  Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023

[8] Section 2(6) of Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023.

[9] Annexure 1 of  Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023.