The Delhi High Court has slapped a Rs 10 lakh fine on Policybazaar, an online platform that aggregates insurance plans and serves as a marketplace for policies, for concealing facts to obtain a favourable order in a trademark infringement case filed by it against an insurance company.
"The stature of a party or enormity of the claim should not be a constraint for the court to advance the cause of justice. Courts should not allow a party to get away with concealment of material facts when it comes to matters relating to grant of relief that are founded on principles of equity," Justice Sanjeev Narula said in a May 28 order while imposing fine.
The court asked the firm to deposit Rs 5 lakh with the Prime Ministers Relief Fund and other Rs 5 lakh with Delhi Legal-Aid Services Authority.
On May 16, the court had restrained Acko General Insurance from using the trademark 'policy bazaar' in any manner or form or combination or as an adword/key word programme through Google.
Later, Acko approached the court saying the Policybazaar had concealed and distorted material facts, made misrepresentations and false statements before this court to obtain the ex-parte ad-interim injunction order.
Acko told the court the Policybazaar had clandestinely approached this court alleging infringement on the part of Acko for making reference to 'POLICYBAZAAR' as a keyword when policybazaar themselves were making reference to Acko and its group company's registered trade mark 'ACKO' as a keyword.
The Policybazaar admitted to doing so but told the court it had stopped that since April 23.
"I have no hesitation to say the concealment has been deliberate in this case. Plaintiffs (Policybazaar) could have easily mentioned the true and correct facts before the court. Plaintiffs ought to have candidly disclosed all material facts which have a bearing on the issues of the present case," the court said.
Moreover, the Policybazaar owed a duty to the court and concealment of facts amounted to making an attempt to pollute the pure stream of justice, the court said adding the judiciary had repeatedly instructed that a party who didn't disclose all material facts won't have a right to be heard.
"Plaintiffs themselves for nearly one year were bidding for defendant's trademark 'ACKO' and were, therefore, acting in an unfair manner. This critical factor would have certainly weighed upon the court while granting ex-parte ad-interim injunction," the court said.
The court said by concealment of this material fact, the Policybazaar had taken the unfair advantage over the Acko and directed that the May 16 order of injunction should remain suspended till July 11, the next date of hearing.