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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Explained: Why and how Ogden Nash and the Gita entered a Delhi court judgment

To substantiate the need to "save precious time by focusing on the areas of actual dispute", the court relied on the poems.

Written by Anand Mohan J , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 9, 2021 8:39:58 am
Delhi courtThe court, in its judgment, cited Ogden Nash's poems and verses from the Bhagavad Gita.

A Delhi court while dismissing a suit on trademark infringement earlier this month borrowed from poems written by American poets, and a verse from the Bhagavad Gita.

The District Judge (Commercial Court) at Tis Hazari court, Man Mohan Singh, passed the order on December 1, ruling in favour of the defendant, Hiveloop Technology Private Ltd, which was taken to court by the plaintiff, TTK Prestige Ltd, a kitchen appliances manufacturer, for allegedly selling its products without consent.

The court passed a summary judgment in which it decided the issue without ordering a trial. However, to substantiate the need to “save precious time by focusing on the areas of actual dispute”, the court relied on the poems.

Which poems did the judge mention, and why?

To illustrate the need for a summary judgment, the court relied on a poem by the 20th century American writer and poet Shel Silverstein.

The judge said that it was the court’s “duty to show the exit door to a litigation without following the entire ritual of trial”, and referred to a poem which is part of Silverstein’s collection of poetry for children, ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’.

The relevant extracts quoted by the judgment read:

“Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

Would not take the garbage out!

She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans, Candy the yams and spice the hams…From New York to the Golden Gate. And there, in the garbage she did hate, Poor Sarah met an awful fate,

That I cannot now relate

Because the hour is much too late. But children, remember Sarah Stout And always take the garbage out!”

While deciding there was no compelling reason to proceed with a trial, the court relied on the poem “One Times One Is Eight” by another 20th century American poet, Ogden Nash.

The judgment quoted the relevant extracts:

“Either old magic or new math

Into our house has beat a path

How else could Einstein or Diogenes

Explain an exploit of our progeny’s?

While at the table with his ilk

A child upsets a glass of milk.

The glass held half a pint when filled

And half a gallon when it spilled.”

Who was Shel Silverstein, and what was his work like?

Silverstein was an American cartoonist, humorist, singer, writer, composer, and lyricist. He was born on September 25, 1932 and passed away in May 9, 1999 at the age of 66.

He served in the Korean war in 1952, after which he returned to his country and established himself as a cartoonist and writer with ‘Playboy’.

Throughout the 1960s, Silverstein wrote children’s books and composed poems. In 1969, he composed a poem which he gave to the American musician Johnny Cash before he was due to perform at the San Quentin State Prison on February 24, 1969. The song went on to win the Grammy award for best country song in 1970.

 And who was Ogden Nash?

Nash was born on August 19, 1902 in New York. He attended Harvard College for a year before he dropped out to earn a living.

He taught at a school for a year, went on to work at Wall Street as a bond salesman, and then wrote advertisements for street cars while writing poetry on the side. He was known for writing light poetry.

Nash managed to sell a few of his poems to The New Yorker, and subsequently quit the advertising industry.

He went on to collaborate for musical plays in a brief stint at Hollywood, eventually making his way to television as a member of panel shows.

He died on May 19, 1971 aged 68.

Where did the Bhagavad Gita come into the judgment?

The court said that while undertaking the task of considering a case or a claim for summary judgment, one must weigh and evaluate a host of factors.

The court said that the situation could be aptly described by referring to Verse 17 from Chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita, which translates as, “logic for an action must be known, so also the logic for inaction and that the logic for a prohibited action must also be known, therefore the practice of ‘karma’ is profound”.

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What is a summary judgment that the court passed?

The provision of summary judgment gives a right to any party to a commercial dispute instituted under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 to get a claim decided in its favour without going through the process of recording the oral evidence.

It is an effective tool for deciding cases where it can be clearly demonstrated that a trial is unnecessary.

The right to get a summary judgment can be claimed by any of the parties at any stage after the service of summons of the suit upon the defendant till the stage of the framing of the issues. Once the issues have been framed, the window is shut.

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