India should continue time-bound arguments after the pandemic

30 April 2020

India should continue time-bound arguments after the pandemic

In the current pandemic situation, the Indian judiciary has developed new ways to administer justice. To ensure that justice is delivered, lawyers can now argue matters through video conferencing system like Cisco Webex or Zoom. However, the catch is that this system will only work if the arguments are taken up as online appointments and have a timeslot allotted. In other words, all the arguments would be ‘time-bound’.

It is proposed that limiting the time through such time slots can be the only possible way to dispense justice efficiently, and this model ought to be adopted by the courts for IP litigation even after the pandemic is over.

It is important to note that lifespan of a fully contested litigation in India has been reduced, thanks to the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. Apart from the fact that most of the matters are resolved through settlements or mediation, several time limits have also been strictly enforced under the act, including:


  1. Compliance under the proviso to Order 39 Rule 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (CPC) after an interim injunction is granted, of all the relevant court papers to the opponent and to file an affidavit within 24 hours. If not complied with, this threatens to vacate the interim injunction;
  2. The written statement must be filed within 30 days and, in any case, not exceeding 120 days from the service of summons. This has been interpreted to be a strict deadline closing the right of the party to defend its case;
  3. An affidavit of admission/denial must be filed along with the written statement or with the replication or else the pleading may not be taken on record; and
  4. A strict deadline for filing the replication within 30 days of receipt of the written statement, with a maximum of 15 days extension.


Similar deadlines exist for the filing of other documents, preferring of Chamber Appeals and Appeals to the Division Bench.

Despite having the aforesaid mechanisms in place, most of the contested matters remain stuck at the final stage, i.e., at a stage where the evidence is completed, and the matter is pending for arguments and judgement. Such matters are not taken up by the court because:


  1. Judges are already burdened with fresh matters and applications, including frivolous applications by defendants for rejection/return of plaint under Order 7 Rule 10 or Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC;
  2. In the absence of a time slot system, matters are often argued for long durations; and
  3. Effective working hours are consumed by fresh matters, which are argued for many hours.


At times, final matters are taken up by the court upon filing an application showing the grounds of urgency, and an hour or two is dedicated to the matter. However, the matter seldom gets concluded in the allotted time frame and is eventually adjourned, because:


  1. There is no time limit, and one side argues matters for hours;
  2. Adjournments occur due to paucity of time;
  3. A sudden change of roster; or
  4. The matter is released by the judges.


Upon cogitation, one realizes that the pending final matters before the Indian Courts have a lot to offer, once decided:


  1. There would be more judgments to guide litigants on esoteric and gray areas of the law;
  2. Cases would be concluded quickly, which would be a desired change; and
  3. There would be major cost savings. This is good not only for SME clients but also for large corporations, which are burdened with the crushing cost of fighting cases, where numbers are directly proportional to the “well-knownness” of their trademarks or the popularity of their patents, designs or copyrights.


Therefore, it is paramount to dispose pending final matters to obtain judgments, and the efficacious way to do that is by having time slots. For the convenience of readers, the mechanics are explained below:


  1. Slots of speaking time will be allocated to parties for advancing arguments;
  2. Each slot will be 10 minutes; and
  3. The number of time slots will depend upon the nature of hearing:
  1. Normal applications would receive a single slot;
  2. An injunction application would receive four slots;
  3. Recording evidence would receive 18-24 slots; and
  4. For final arguments, each side would receive 30 slots, with an additional 15 slots for rebuttal.


If a party wants more time, they must file an application before a hearing officer (who functions as a timekeeper) and convince the officer of the need for more time; accordingly, the hearing officer might or might not permit additional time slots. This time slot system will ensure that the hearing is concluded in time bound manner.

Time slots are thus sine qua non of an effective hearing and ought to be implemented with three clear understandings:


  1. That with passage of time, the habit to keep time will solidify;
  2. Parties that do not complete their arguments in the allotted time would be encouraged to provide written arguments; and
  3. In exceptional cases, courts would have the discretion to increase allotted time.


There is thus a key realization that the timely disposal of litigation matters alone can serve the ends of justice.

About the author

Mr Ashutosh Upadhyaya

Mr Ashutosh Upadhyaya

Ashutosh Upadhyaya (he/him/his) is a Senior Associate at Anand and Anand with over 6 years of experience in Intellectual Property Right Laws, with a focus on Customs Enforcement of IP rights, and IP Commercial Litigation. His practice areas also include advisory and consultation in the fields of Luxury Laws, Advertisement/Entertainment Laws, Legal Metrology Laws, Packaging and Food Safety Laws. He writes regularly for leading publications and has authored/co-authored several articles.

Pravin Anand

Pravin Anand is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation at Anand and Anand.


Awarded the AIPPI Award of Merit, INTA’s President’s Award and recognised the “Most Innovative Lawyer” for Asia Pacific by Financial Times, Pravin has appeared in 2500 plus cases in over 42 years' practice as an IP lawyer.


Some landmarks:


(i)         Patent lawsuits transforming Indian pharmaceutical and bio-technology enforcement regime-Merck Vs. Glenmark;Roche Vs. Cipla;the Monsanto case; large number of suits on behalf of Pfizer, BMS, AstraZeneca, etc.


(ii)        India’s Ist Anti-anti-suit injunction (InterDigital v Xiaomi); Software Patent lawsuit (Ferid Allani case); Nokia-Lenovo multi-year, multi-technology agreement; development of damages culture in cases recognizing compensatory, exemplary and aggravated damages (Philips Vs. AmazeStore); India’s first post-trial SEP judgment; unique remedies such as “Tree Planting Order” (Merck case); and order benefitting adolescent girls (Hermes case).



  • INTA President’s Award 2021
  • Ranked amongst Top 15 IP lawyers in Asia by Thomson Reuters Asian Legal Business
  • Ranked amongst Top IP lawyers in India by Thomson Reuters Asian Legal Business
  • Ranked as "Though leader" in IP Patents, Trademarks and Life Sciences in Who's Who Legal 2022 edition
  • Managing Partner of the Year - Asian Legal Business India Law Awards 2021
  • Patent Lawyer of the Year - Legal Era India Legal Awards 2021
  • Leading IP lawyers of the Decade - Legal Era India law Awards 2020
  • Managing Intellectual Property IP Star - Patent 2017-21
  • Chambers and Partners Top Ranked lawyer in IP Litigation and Life Sciences - 2017-22
  • Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific Dispute Resolution Star 2021
  • World’s Leading Practitioners - IAM Patent 1000 (2016-21)
  • World’s Leading IP Strategists - IAM Strategy 300 (2016-21)
  • Inducted in Legal 500 Hall of Fame
  • AsiaIP IP Expert


Professional Associations:

  • Ex-Member-INTA Board of Directors
  • Past President AIPPI, APAA and FICPI (Indian Groups)
  • Member-INTA Enforcement Committee


Spreading Message of IP:

  • Raj Anand Moot Court Competition since 1997;
  • ‘Anaryst’ - IP Board Game;
  • ‘Brainchild' - First IP-themed play;
  • ‘Adventures of Mr. IP’ – IP Comic
  • Coffee Table Book ‘IPONOMICS’

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