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The balance of convenience does justify for passing an interim injunction order reiterates: SC


The appeal was brought to the Supreme Court of India before the bench consisting of Honourable Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Honourable Justice N.V. Ramana and Honourable Justice Krishna Murari who delivered such judgment allowing the appeal in the aforesaid terms.

The present appeal impugned the judgment and order dated 9th January 2019 passed by the High Court of Bombay, which dismissed Writ Petition No. 19175 of 2018, and thereby affirms the order passed by the trial court and the first appellate court restraining the appellant and the second respondent by way of temporary injunction from “making holes for erecting poles on any part of the suit lands without following due process of law”.

A number of issues and contentions were raised before the court but they only focused on an interim injunction order and were inclined to grant relief to the appellant subject to certain conditions, leaving the main issues to be decided and adjudicated in the civil suit and under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (‘Telegraph Act’ for short) read with the Electricity Act, 2003 (‘Electricity Act’ for short).

Use of land belonging to a third party for setting up of the electricity transmission line

To answer this question, the court referred to the judgment of this Court in Power Grid Corporation of India Limited v. Century Textiles and Industries Limited and Others wherein a Division Bench of this Court while examining Section 164 of the Electricity Act had observed that the appropriate Government may by order in writing for the purpose of placing of electric lines or electrical plant for the transmission of electricity necessary for the proper coordination of works, confer on any public officer, licensee or any other person engaged in the business of supplying electricity under the Electricity Act any of the powers that the telegraph authority possesses under the Telegraph Act with respect to the placing of the posts and lines for the purposes of a telegraph. This conferment of powers would be subject to such conditions and restrictions if any, that the appropriate Government may impose and the provisions of the Telegraph Act.

Reference was made to Sections 10 and 16 of the Telegraph Act which postulates the power of the telegraph authority to maintain telegraph lines and posts and the provisions relating to compensation in the exercise of those powers.

Clause (d) to Section 10 requires that the telegraph authority shall do as limited damage as possible in the exercise of powers to place and maintain telegraph lines and posts, and full compensation shall be paid to all persons interested in any damage sustained by them. Sub-section (1) to Section 16 states that in case of resistance or obstruction in respect of powers exercised by the telegraph authority under clause (d) to Section 10, the District Magistrate may in his discretion make an order that the telegraph authority shall be permitted to exercise the powers. Sub-section (3) to Section 16 states that if any dispute arises with regard to the Sufficiency of the compensation to be paid under clause (d) to Section 10, the District Judge within whose jurisdiction the property is situated shall determine the compensation.

The appellant has highlighted and the MSEDC affirms that 80% of the work of laying the transmission line is already over and but for the injunction order under challenge the transmission line would have been activated and operationalised. Clearly, therefore, the balance of convenience does not justify passing of an interim injunction order in favour of the first respondent

Thus, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case at hand, the Honourable Court delivered its judgment as under,

“We are, therefore, inclined to set aside the impugned order as also the injunction order subject to the appellant making an ad hoc payment of Rs. 20,00,000/- (rupees twenty lakhs only) in addition to the payments already made. On the said payment being made to the first respondent, the MSEDC and their contractors would be entitled to continue and complete the work of the erection of the electricity transmission towers on the land of the first respondent. The payment made would be subject to the outcome of the civil suit or the proceedings under the Telegraph Act for quantifying the compensation payable to the first respondent. The appeal is allowed in the aforesaid terms without any order as to costs. All pending applications stand disposed of.”

Tanvi Srivatsan



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