Commercial Courts (Amendment) Act, 2018 Cannot Be Applied Retrospectively: Delhi High Court

Commercial Courts (Amendment) Act, 2018 Cannot Be Applied Retrospectively

Case: Satyanarain Khandelwal V. Prem Arora And Other Connected Matters

Coram: Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad

Case No.: TR.P.(C.) 47/2021

Court Observation: “Furthermore, interpreting the Amending Act to be retrospective in nature will affect the substantive rights of the parties who have already filed their suits in ordinary Civil Courts before the Amending Act was enforced. Holding it otherwise will and also lead to administrative and practical difficulties which cannot be said to be the intention of the Legislature while promulgating the said Amending Act. Had the Legislature intended for the Amending Act to be retrospective in nature, there is nothing that could have prevented the Legislature from explicitly specifying the same,”

“In order to ensure that statutes that are being newly promulgated do not disturb such previously settled matters, a strong presumption exists that the law is prospective in operation, unless explicitly made retrospective,”

“Furthermore, the golden rule of interpretation is that words of the statute must prima facie be given their ordinary meaning and when the words of a statute are clear, plain and unambiguous, then the Courts are bound to give effect to their meaning, irrespective of the consequences. It is not sound principle of construction to brush aside words in a statute and thereby substitute the intention of the legislature. It is well settled that Judges must refrain from legislating, and that they have to remember that there is a line, though thin, which separates adjudication from legislation.”

“This Clause saves all the rights that were previously there; it does not create any new rights. In light of this, the Petitioners cannot take advantage of the Saving Clause in Section 19 of the Amending Act to state that the Amending Act applies retrospectively to Section 15 of the 2015 Act and that the disputes pertaining to the lowered specified value of Rs.3 lakhs, which are pending before the District Courts, will come under the purview of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015,”

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Commercial Courts (Amendment) Act, Cannot Be Applied Retrospectively