Delhi High Court’s division bench (appeal court) has passed a landmark ruling relating to the jurisdiction of courts. The decision concerns the right of a party to choose the court in which its dispute will be heard. The division bench held that a plaintiff is dominus litis (master of proceedings), and that its choice cannot be overridden by a court, as long as the court has jurisdiction to try the suit under the Civil Procedure Code (CPC).
In reaching its verdict, the bench reversed an earlier decision made by a single judge of Delhi High Court, who had ruled that a court could, in rare cases, refuse to entertain a suit (even though it had jurisdiction to hear it) on the grounds of forum non conveniens (inappropriate forum, that is, deeming another court more appropriate to try the litigation).
The matter arose in a dispute between Glaxo Consumer Healthcare, the owner of the Horlicks brand, and Heinz, the owner of a competing product, Complan. Glaxo (the plaintiff) accused Heinz of disparaging the Horlicks brand in an advertisement, which it alleged made unfair comparisons between the two products.
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