New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed a firm to pay Rs 2 crore as damages to pharma giant Pfizer Inc for committing “wilful” and “contumacious” contempt of court by disobeying its order. The court said if the director of the firm, Triveni Interchem Pvt Ltd, fails to pay the amount in two weeks, he shall be taken into custody and detained in a civil prison for two weeks at Tihar jail here.
The court, in an interim order, had restrained the firm from making, selling, distributing, advertising, exporting or importing or dealing with any product having compound ‘Palbociclib‘ or any pharmaceutically acceptable salt as it would infringe the patent of plaintiff Pfizer.
As the firm was found continuing to sell Palbociclib, the court held the defendants guilty of wilful disobedience of its order and committing contempt of court.
“In these circumstances, as the defendants were completely unwilling to acknowledge the fact that it was selling Palbociclib, the court was constrained to hold the defendants guilty of wilful and contumacious disobedience of its orders and, therefore, found the defendants guilty of having committed contempt of this court..,” Justice C Hari Shankar said in an order passed on January 24.
The judge further said, “In view of the aforesaid, I am of the opinion that, as the defendant has clearly committed wilful and contumacious contempt of this court, the defendant through Kamlesh Singh (director), he has rendered himself liable to punishment.”
In its October 2021 interim order, the high court had directed Triveni to remove all the listings from various places. However, since the instances of the sale of Palbociclib continued, Pfizer filed a contempt petition before the court.
Advocates Pravin Anand, Tusha Malhotra and Richa Bhargava, representing Pfizer, said Triveni Interchem Private Limited and Triveni Chemicals were found advertising and offering “for sale” generic Palbociclib in active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) form on their websites and IndiaMART (e-commerce platform), without any permission or authorisation from Pfizer.
Pfizer contended that Triveni entities were merely altering the packaging in which Palbociclib was being sold by it and continued to indulge in the sale of the compound on its website as well as on a third-party website and sought that the director be punished for contempt.
The firm filed an affidavit tendering an apology, however, the court said it was not acceptable as it was coming from a person who was completely unwilling to disclose the exact quantity of Palbociclib which Triveni dealt with.
“It is impossible for this court to believe that the defendant continued to show Palbociclib as a product in which it was dealing, on its own website as well as on third party websites, and never purchased or sold any Palbociclib whatsoever.
“If the present affidavit is to be believed, even in the absence of any stock of Palbociclib with it, the defendant was advertising Palbociclib for sale on the internet. This is a clearly unacceptable position and is contrary to basic principles of trade,” the court said.
It also said that Triveni has absolutely no regard for the truth and it appeared that, with stark impunity, it was resorting to misstatement after misstatement before the court.