In Kerala State Road Transport Corporation v. Varghese, (2003) 12 SCC 293, observing that recovery after retirement amounts to cut from retiral dues and causes irreparable loss and injury to a retired employee, as retirement dues are the only source of livelihood. Apex Court in the case of Ram Dayal Rai v. Jharkhand State Electricity Board, (2005) 3 SCC 501, held that even 5% cut out from the total amount of pension payable to the appellant was an irreparable loss and injury. Court in this case while dealing with a recovery due to overstay in official accommodation, had held:
“If the petitioner’s benefit is cut at 5% out of the total amount of pension payable to the appellant, the appellant will suffer an irreparable loss and injury since, after retirement, the pensionary benefit is the only amount available to eke out a livelihood for the retired employees of the Government.”
Similarly, recovery of an amount from the dues of deceased employee to which his widow is entitled, on the ground that he was paid an excess amount due to wrong fixation of pay cannot be justified after his death. Moreover, in the absence of any finding forthcoming that deceased employee was wrongly benefited for his representation and fraud, no such amount already paid is liable to be recovered. Savitri Pathak v. State of U.P., 2018 (2) AWC 3056.
Fraudulently obtained order of appointment or approval can be recalled by the authority concerned. In such cases, merely because the employee continued in service for a number of years, on the basis of fraudulently obtained order, cannot get any equity in his favour or any estoppels against the employer/authority. When appointment or approval has been obtained by a person on the basis of forged documents, it would amount to misrepresentation and fraud on the employer. It would create no equity in his favour or any estoppel against the employer to cancel such appointment or approval since “Fraud and justice never dwell together.” Committee of Management v. State of U.P., (2018) 1 UPLBEC 610.
Certain Principles that govern the law of passing-off have been considered by the Hon’ble Apex Court Court in S. Syed Mohideen v. P. Sulochana Bai, (2016) 2 SCC 683 in the context of the right of a registered owner of a particular mark to bring an action for passing-off against another registered owner of an identical or largely similar trade mark. It was further held:
“that the action for passing-off which is premised on the rights of prior user generating a goodwill shall be unaffected by any registration provided under the Act.”
Which proposition actually stood approved in an earlier decision of the Court in N.R. Dongre v. Whirlpool Corporation, (1996) 5 SCC 714. The trinity test laid down in Reckitt & Colman Ltd., (1990) 1 WLR 491 was again reiterated by the Court in S. Syed Mohideen v. P. Sulochana Bai, (2016) 2 SCC 683 by holding that to prove and establish an action of passing-off, three ingredients are required to be proved by the plaintiff i.e. his goodwill, misrepresentation and damages. Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha v. Prius Auto Indutries Limited, (2018) 2 SCC 1.
In Bhaurao Dagdu Paralkar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 7 SCC 605, it was held as under:
“By fraud is meant an intention to deceive; whether it is from any expectation of advantage to the party himself or from ill will towards the other is immaterial. The expression “fraud” involves two elements, deceit and injury to the person deceived. Injury is something other than economic loss, that is, deprivation of property, whether movable or immovable, or of money and it will include any harm whatever caused to any person in body, mind, reputation or such others. In short, it is a non-economic or non-pecuniary loss. A benefit or advantage to the deceiver, will almost always cause loss or detriment to the deceived. Even in those rare cases where there is a benefit or advantage to the deceiver, but no corresponding loss to the deceived, the second condition is satisfied.
A fraud is an act of deliberate deception with the design of securing something by taking unfair advantage of another. It is a deception in order to gain by another’s loss. It is a cheating intended to get an advantage.
Fraud, as is well known, vitiates every solemn act. Fraud and justice never dwell together. Fraud is a conduct either by letter or words, which induces the other person or authority to take a definite determinative stand as a response to the conduct of the former, either by words or letters. It is also well settled that misrepresentation itself amounts to fraud. A fraudulent misrepresentation is called deceit and consists in leading a man into damage by willfully or recklessly causing him to believe and act on falsehood. It is a fraud in law if a party makes representations, which he knows to be false, and injury ensues therefrom although the motive from which the misrepresentations proceeded may not have been bad. An act of fraud on court is always viewed seriously. A collusion or conspiracy with a view to deprive the rights of others in relation to a property would render the transaction void ab initio. Fraud and deception are synonymous. Although in a given case a deception may not amount to fraud, fraud is anathema to all equitable principles and any affair tainted with fraud cannot be perpetuated or saved by the application of any equitable doctrine including res judicata. DDA v. Bankmens Cooperative Group Housing Society Limited. (2017) 7 SCC 636.
In P. Dasa Muni Reddy v. P. Appa Rao, (1974) 2 SCC 725 it was held as under:
“Waiver is an intentional relinquishment of a known right or advantage, benefit, claim or privilege which except for such waiver the party would have enjoyed. Waiver can also be a voluntary surrender of a right. The doctrine of waiver has been applied in cases where landlords claimed forfeiture of lease or tenancy because of breach of some condition in the contract of tenancy. The doctrine which the courts of law will recognize is a rule of judicial policy that a person will not be allowed to take inconsistent position to gain advantage through the aid of courts. Waiver sometimes partakes of the nature of an election. Waiver is consensual in nature. It implies a meeting of the minds. It is a matter of mutual intention. The doctrine does not depend on misrepresentation. Waiver actually requires two parties, one party waiving and another receiving the benefit of waiver. There can be waiver so intended by one party and so understood by the other. The essential element of waiver is that there must be a voluntary and intentional relinquishment of a right. The voluntary choice is the essence of waiver. There should exist an opportunity for choice between the relinquishment and an enforcement of the right in question. It cannot be held that there had been a waiver of valuable rights where the circumstances show that what was done was involuntary. There can be no waiver of a non-existent right. Similarly, one cannot waive that which is not one’s right at the time of waiver. Some mistake or misapprehension as to some facts which constitute the underlying assumption without which parties would not have made the contract may be sufficient to justify the court in saying that there was no consent.”
It is important to note that waiver is an intentional relinquishment of a known right, and that, therefore, unless there is a clear intention to relinquish a right that is fully known to a party, a party cannot be said to waive it. But the matter does not end here. It is also clear that if any element of public interest is involved and a waiver takes place by one of the parties to an agreement, such waiver will not be given effect to if it is contrary to such public interest. All India Power Engineer Federation v. Sasan Power Ltd., (2017) 1 SCC 487.
“Fraud” is a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his detriment. Fraud can be of different forms and hues. Its ingredients are an intention to deceive, use of unfair means, deliberated concealment of material facts, or abuse of position of confidence. The Black’s Law Dictionary defines “fraud” as a concealment or false representation through a statement or conduct that injures another who relies on it.
The issue of arbitrability of fraud has arisen on numerous occasions and there exist conflicting decisions of the Apex Court on this issue. While it has been held in Bharat Rasiklal Ashra v. Gautam Rasiklal Ashra, (2012) 2 SCC 144 that when fraud is of such a nature that it vitiates the arbitration agreement, it is for the court to decide on the validity of the arbitration agreement by determining the issue of fraud, there exists two parallel lines of judgments on the issue of whether an issue of fraud is arbitrable. In this context, a two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court while adjudicating on an application under section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 in N. Radhakrishnan v. Maestro Engineers, (2010) 1 SCC 72, held that an issue of fraud is not arbitrable. The decision was ostensibly based on the decision of the three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Abdul Kadir Shamsuddin Bubere v. Madhav Prabhakar Oak, AIR 1962 SC 406. However, the said three Judge Bench decision (which was based on the finding in Russel v. Russel, (1880) LR 14 Ch D 471) is only an authority for the proposition that a party against whom an allegation of fraud is made in a public forum, has a right to defend himself in that public forum.
A distinction has also been made by certain High Courts between a serious issue of fraud and a mere allegation of fraud and the former has been held to be not arbitrable. The Supreme Court in Meguin GmbH v. Nandan Petrochem Ltd., (2016) 10 SCC 422 in the context of an application filed under Section 11 has gone ahead and appointed an arbitrator even though issues of fraud were involved. A. Ayyasamy v. A. Parmasivam, (2016) 10 SCC 386.
When fraud, misrepresentation or undue influence is alleged by a party in a suit, normally, the burden is on him to prove such fraud, undue influence or misrepresentation. But when a person is in a fiduciary relationship with another and the latter is in a position of active confidence, the burden of proving the absence of fraud, misrepresentation or undue influence is upon the person in dominating position and he has to prove that there was fair play in the transaction and that the apparent is the real, that the transaction is genuine and bona fide. In such a case the burden of proving the good faith of the transaction is thrown upon the dominant party , that is to say, the party who is in a position of active confidence. A Person standing in a fiduciary relation to another has a duty to protect the interest given to his care and the court watches with jealousy all transactions between such persons so that the protector may not use his influence or the confidence to his advantage. When the party complaining shows such relation, the law presumes everything against the transaction and the onus is cast against the person holding the position of confidence or trust to show that that the transaction is perfectly fair and reasonable, that no advantage has been taken of his position. This principle has been engrained in Section 111 of the Evidence Act, 1872. The rule here laid down is in accordance with a principle long acknowledged and administered in Courts of Equity in England and America. This principle is that he who bargains in a matter of advantage with a person who places confidence in him is bound to show that a proper and reasonable use has been made of that confidence. The transaction is not necessarily void ipso facto nor is it necessary for those who impeach it to establish that there has been fraud or imposition, but the burden of establishing its perfect fairness, adequacy and equity is cast upon the person in whom the confidence has been reposed. The rule applies equally to all persons standing in confidential relations with each other. Agents, trustees, executors, administrators, auctioneers and other have been held to fall within the rule. The section requires that the party on whom the burden o proof is laid should have been in a position of active confidence. Where fraud is alleged, the rule has been clearly established in England that in case of a stranger equity will not set aside a voluntary deed or donation, however improvident it may be, if it be free from the imputation of fraud, surprise, undue influence and spontaneously executed or made by the donor with his eyes open. Where an active confidential, or fiduciary relation exists between the parties, there the burden of proof is on the done or those claiming through him. It has further been laid down that where a person gains a great advantage over another by a voluntary instrument, the burden of proof is thrown upon the person receiving the benefit and he is under the necessity of showing that the transaction is fair and honest. Pratima Chowdhury v. Kalpana Mukherjee, (2014) 4 SCC 196.