Temporary Injunctions in Civil Proceedings

Temporary Injunctions: Principles, Essentials, and Impact in Civil Proceedings

Principles and Essentials of Temporary injunction


The object of a preliminary or temporary injunction is merely to preserve the “property in dispute in status quo and to protect it from injury until the right of the parties can be finally adjudicated. The Court will not, therefore, on the hearing of an application to grant or vacate a preliminary injunction, decide questions of the title to the property in dispute, but will reserve such questions until the final hearing upon the merits. Only such restraint will, therefore, be imposed as may suffice to stop the mischief complained of and preserve matters in status quo.

A temporary injunction is a judicial order that restrains a party from engaging in a particular act or mandates them to perform a specific action until the court reaches a final decision on the matter. It is an essential tool for preserving the status quo, preventing irreparable harm, and ensuring justice is served during the pendency of a civil suit.

Relevant Provisions 

The principles governing the grant of temporary injunctions are defined within the Civil Procedure Code and the Specific Relief Act of 1877. Order 39 of the Code of Civil Procedure enacts the law relating to the grant of temporary injunction.

Conditions for The Grant of Temporary Injunction 

The grant of an injunction is at the discretion of the Court, which means judicially sound discretion, it has been held that the plaintiff must satisfy the following conditions before the Court would issue a temporary injunction.

(1) Plaintiff Must Establish a Prima Facie Case 

The applicant seeking a temporary injunction must establish a prima facie case, meaning they must present sufficient evidence to convince the court that they have a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their case. The applicant must demonstrate that their claim is not frivolous and possesses a reasonable chance of success. This requirement ensures that injunctions are not granted in baseless or weak claims.

In order to entitle a plaintiff to a temporary injunction pending the disposal of the suit, the plaintiff must make out a prima facie strong case in support of the right which he claims and must show that irreparable damage will result to him if the injunction is not granted. But the rule that before the issue of temporary injunction the court must satisfy itself that the plaintiff has a prima facie case, does not mean that the Court should examine the merits of the case closely and come to a conclusion that the plaintiff has a case in which he is likely to succeed. This would amount to prejudicing the case on its merits.

All that the Court is to see is that on the face of it, the person applying for an injunction has a case, which needs consideration and which is not bound to fail by virtue of some apparent defects. A probability of right is sufficient to sustain an injunction. It would be sufficient if it is shown that the plaintiff in the suit has a fair question to raise as to the existence of the right alleged.

What is a prima facie case?

Literal Meaning of prima facie case:

(prI-ma fay-sha or fay-shee)

  • [Latin] At first sight; on first appearance but subject to further evidence or information. 
  • Sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted.

Legal Meaning of prima facie case:

  • The establishment of a legally required rebuttable presumption. 
  • A party's production of enough evidence to allow the fact-trier to infer the fact at issue and rule in the party's favor.

(2) Actual or Threatened Injury 

If the legal right is not disputed, a man who seeks the aid of the Court must be able to show that the act complained of is, in fact, a violation of the right, or is at best an act which, if carried into effect, will necessarily result in a violation of the right. The mere prospect or apprehension of injury, or the mere belief that the act complained of can be shown to exist, or if a man insists on his right to do, or begins to do, or threatens to do, or gives notice of his intention to do, an act which must, in the opinion of the Court, if completed, provide a ground of action, there is a foundation for the exercise of the jurisdiction.

The mere denial by a man of his intention to do an act or to infringe a right will not prevent the court from interfering; but if a man who claims a right to do a certain act asserts positively that before proceeding to do the act, he will give reasonable notice of his intention to do it, and there is no reason to doubt the truth of his assurance, the Court will not interfere. [Kerr on Injunction (P. 16)]

(3) Irreparable Loss 

A man who seeks the aid of the Court by way of the interlocutory injunction, must, as a rule, be able to satisfy the Court that its interference is necessary to protect him from that species of injury which the Court calls irreparable before the legal right can be established upon trial.

By the term "irreparable injury" or "Irreparable Loss" it is not meant there must be no physical possibility of repairing the injury; all that is meant is, that the injury would be a material one, and one which could not be adequately remedied by damages; and by the term, the inadequacy of the remedy by damages’ is meant that the remedy by damages is not such compensation as will, in effect, though not in specie, place the parties in the position in which they formerly stood, If the act complained of threatens to destroy the subject-matter in question, the case may come within the principle, even though the damages may be capable of being accurately measurement.

(4) Balance of Convenience

The court must consider the balance of convenience when deciding whether to grant a temporary injunction. This principle involves weighing the potential harm to the applicant if the injunction is denied against the potential harm to the respondent if the injunction is granted. The court seeks to minimize the overall prejudice caused to both parties and maintain the equilibrium until a final judgment is rendered. The court should strive to ensure that neither party suffers disproportionately as a result of the injunction.

“In doubtful cases where the question as to the legal right is one on which the Court is not prepared to pass an opinion, or the legal right being admitted, the fact of its Violation is denied, the course of the court is either to grant the injunction pending the trial of the legal right or to order the motion to stand over until the legal right has been tried.

In determining which of these two alternatives it shall adopt, the Court is governed by the Consideration as to comparative mischief or inconvenience to the parties which may arise from granting or withholding the injunction and will take care so as to frame its order as not to deprive either party of the benefit he is entitled to, if in the event it turns out that the party in whose favor the order is made shall be in the wrong.

In doubtful cases, if it appears, upon the balance of convenience and inconvenience, the more significant damage would rise to the defendant by granting the injunction in the event of its turning out afterward to have been wrongly granted, than to the plaintiff from withholding it in the event of the legal right proving to be in his favor, the injunction will not be granted, but the motion will be ordered to stand over until the hearing. If, on the other hand, it appears that more significant damage would arise to the plaintiff by withholding the injunction, in the event of legal right proving to be in his favor, than to the defendant by granting the injunction proving afterward to have been wrongly granted, the injunction will issue.

Balance of Convenience is that if an injunction is not granted and the suit is ultimately decided in favor of the plaintiff, the inconvenience caused to the plaintiff would be greater than that would be caused to the defendant if the injunction is granted. [2023  CLC  954]

(5) Conduct of Applicant

The injunction is an equable relief and is based upon well-known principles of equity, namely

  • (a) he who seeks equity must do equity, and
  • (b) he who comes into equity must come with clean hands.

The Court, where its summary interference is invoked, always to the conduct of the party who makes and will refuse to interfere, even in cases where it acknowledges a right unless his conduct in the matter has been fair and honest, and free from any taint of fraud or illegality. While a court of equity endeavors to promote and enforce justice, good faith, uprightness, fairness, and conscientiousness on the part of the parties who occupy a defensive position in judicial controversies, it no less stringently demands the same from the litigant parties who come before it as plaintiffs or actors in such controversies,

(6) Acquiescence 

Thus parties who, possessing full knowledge of their rights, but have chosen to remain inactive and, by their conduct, have encouraged others to expend money or after their condition in contravention of the rights for which they contend,  cannot seek swift intervention from the courts. Acquiescence by one of several co-plaintiffs in the act complained of precludes the interference of the court by injunction, and the rule is the same although some of the plaintiffs are infants. 

(7) Delay or Laches 

“Laches in legal significance is not mere delay, but delay that works as a disadvantage to another. “So long as the parties are in the same condition, it matters little whether one presses a right promptly or slowly, within limits allowed by law; but when knowing his rights, he takes not step to enforce them until the condition of the other party has, in good faith, become so charged that he cannot be restored to this former state if the right be then enforced delay becomes inequitable, and operates as estoppel against the assertion of the tight. The disadvantage may come from loss of evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes; but when the court sees negligence on one side and injury therefrom on the other, it is a ground for denial of relief.

(8) Duration of Injunction  

Procedural norms prescribed in O.XXXIX, Rr.l and 2, Civil Procedure Code, 1908, which would entail grant of temporary or ad interim injunction by the Court either until the disposal of the suit or till further orders. An injunction granted pendente lite, until the disposal of the suit or until further orders, will end in any case on the disposal of the suit or any earlier date, on which further orders may be passed, the reference to further order not applying to anything after the disposal of the suit.

Under Section 53 of the Act, such injunctions are granted at any period of the suit and are regulated by the Code of Civil Procedure. If a bill praying for an injunction is dismissed, an injunction granted (on the merits or otherwise) on that bill falls with it, and no express motion or order is necessary to dissolve the injunction. The dismissal of a bill for an injunction does not prejudice the right of the plaintiff to file a new bill, founded on a new or altered state of circumstances or upon new facts. An interim injunction should not ordinarily exceed fifteen days if passed in the absence of the defendant.

(9) Terms of Granting Temporary Injunction 

Order XXXIX, rule 2(2) lays down that the Court may by order grant such injunction, on such terms as to the duration of the injunctions, keeping an account, giving security, or otherwise, as the Court thinks fit. The grant of injunction is in the nature of equitable relief and conditions can be imposed so that the interest of other party may also be safeguarded. There is no prohibition in the Code of Civil Procedure that a condition cannot be attached to an injunction. On this subject Kerr observes as follows:

(a) Term Imposed on Defendant 

“The Court may often by imposing terms on one party, as the condition of either granting or withholding the injunction, secure the other party from damage in the event of his proving ultimately to have the legal right. If the Court feels that it can by imposing terms on the defendant secure the plaintiff, in the event of the legal right being determined in his favour against damage from what may be done by the defendant in the meantime, and the defendant is willing to accede to the terms required by the Court, an injunction will not issue. The terms imposed on the defendant as the condition of withholding the injunction vary with the circumstances and the exigencies of the case.

(b) Terms Imposed on Plaintiff 

On the one hand, the court may, in doubtful cases, as a condition of withholding an injunction, require the defendant to enter into terms, so, on the other hand, it will, as a condition of granting an injunction, require the plaintiff to enter into an undertaking as to damages in the event of the right at law being determined in favor of the defendant, and the injunction proving to have been wrongfully granted. The undertaking was formerly required only in cases where the application was ex parte, but the present practice is to require the undertaking as well where the motion is on notice as where it is ex parte.

(10) Injunction is Granted only in Suit 

As necessitated by Order 37 Rule of the Code of Civil Procedure, an injunction can only be granted where the suit, in which it is asked for, is pending in the Court, and the suit covers the same ground as the application for temporary injunction. The Court will Only see the legality of the action after it is brought before it by the defendant. While granting injunction known and generally-accepted principles governing exercise of discretion should be abided by, for if it is not done, miscarriage of justice would be occasioned. After the dismissal of the suit no ad interim injunction under O. 39, R. 1 purporting to be for the benefit of the suit itself can be granted in an appeal against an order refusing the interim injunction.

Cases in which Temporary Injunction is Granted

Under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, temporary Injunction can be granted in the following cases:

(1) Danger of Alienation, Waste or Damage

The Court can grant a temporary injunction when it is proved that any property in dispute in a suit is in danger of being wasted, damaged or alienated by any party to the suit.

(2) Danger of Being Wrongfully Sold in Execution of Decree

A Court is not debarred from restraining a party, in cases covered by Rules I and 2  from executing his decree in another Court merely by reason of the fact that such Court is of a superior grade to the Court which issues the injunction. The provisions of this rule will only apply if the property is in danger of being wrongfully sold in the execution of a decree. Where a case comes under this rule, an application for an injunction is the proper remedy and Not an application to the executing Court for a stay of execution. Where the sale has already taken place, no injunction will be granted restraining such sale.

(3) Disposal of Property in Fraud of Creditors

An injunction can be granted to restrain a threatened disposal of property in fraud of creditors. Any such threat or intention must be proved by definite evidence.

(4) Breach of Contract

Rule 2 of C.P.C regulates the grant of a temporary injunction in suits for an injunction against the apprehended breach of contract or other injuries of any kind arising out of the same contract or relating to the same property or right.

Case Laws on Temporary Injunction

2022  SCMR  366  Supreme-Court of Pakistan

For the grant of an interim injunction the party approaching the Court must show a prima facie case, Balance of Convenience, and irreparable loss.

A temporary injunction, by its nature, is a preventive remedy with the object to maintain the status quo and prevent irreparable damage or preserve the subject matter of the litigation until the trial is concluded. In order to succeed in obtaining a temporary injunction in a case, a plaintiff has to establish co-existence of three conditions/ingredients i.e.,

  • (i) prima facie case;
  • (ii) possibility of suffering an irreparable loss if the temporary injunction is declined; and
  • (iii) the Balance of Convenience leans in his favor

of the three conditions, the existence of a prima facie case is foundational and the other two conditions are considered once the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case in his favor.

2021  MLD  747 Islamabad:

It was held that Irreparable loss meant such loss which could not be adequately remedied by award of damages and balance of convenience meant the balance of mischief or inconvenience to parties. Where a claim of loss and recovery was ascertainable, then such loss could not be said to be "irreparable" and a monetary loss could not be considered to be an irreparable loss for the purpose of grant or refusal for application for temporary injunction. Loss, therefore, if the same was measurable in terms of money, then the question of suffering "irreparable loss" did not arise.

The burden of proof existed upon the applicant seeking temporary injunction to satisfy the court regarding the existence of essential ingredients.

Apprehensions, dishonor, and humiliation were irrelevant considerations for granting or refusing of application under O.XXXIX, C.P.C.

Where there existed a threat of infringement of right vested in a litigant, then a temporary injunction could be granted.

Temporary injunctions were not to be granted solely on the basis of prima facie cases and other ingredients must be taken into account including S.56 of the Specific Relief Act, 1877 where applicable. Grant of temporary injunction was a discretionary relief to be exercised upon sound reasons and by application principles after assessing all circumstances and was to be issued in aid to equity and justice.

2020  YLR  2239 Lahore:

Temporary injunction by its nature was a preventive remedy. The first condition for the grant of temporary injunction was "prima facie case" and such condition was foundational and a court was to consider the other two conditions thereafter. In a suit for specific performance to sell immoveable property on the basis of an oral agreement claimed by plaintiff, if the same is denied by the other side, then there would not exist any prima facie case

American Cyanamid Co (No. 1) v Ethicon Ltd [1975] AC 396:

This case established the modern test for granting interim or temporary injunctions in the UK. The court held that the applicant must show a serious question to be tried, demonstrate that damages would not be an adequate remedy, and consider the balance of convenience between the parties. The judgment emphasized the need to strike a fair balance while considering the potential harm to both parties.

eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. (2006)

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the appeals court's general rule was an unwarranted departure from the traditional four-part test applied to determine whether an injunction is necessary. That test requires the plaintiff to prove (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that the law does not provide other adequate ways to compensate it; (3) that considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, an injunction is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be harmed by a permanent injunction.

2019  YLR  815 Karachi High Court Sindh

Relief of injunction was discretionary and an equitable relief which a party could not claim as a matter of right and he who seeks equity must come to the court with clean hands. Before the grant of such relief, the conscience of the court had to be satisfied that the party seeking such relief had not acted inequitably and concealment of the factum of earlier litigation was contumacious and inequitable and such concealment disentitled a party to grant of discretionary relief of injunction.

The party seeking temporary injunction was duty bound to bring necessary facts about any previous litigation before the Court and complete disclosure about previous connected, related or relevant proceedings and orders was essential and unless non-disclosure of the same could be satisfactorily explained, a claimant should not, as a matter of general principle, be granted interim relief.

The party seeking temporary injunction must also satisfy the court that interference was necessary to protect it from the species of injury which the court called "irreparable loss" before the legal right could be established. For the adjudication of the question of granting or withholding preventive equitable relief, an injury was set to be irreparable either because no legal remedy furnished full compensation for it or if there was no adequate redress for such injury or there existed inherent ineffectiveness of legal remedy for such injury.

Dorab Cawasji Warden vs Coomi Sorab Warden & Ors 1990 AIR 867, 1990 SCR (1) 332

Supreme Court of India HELD:

(1) The courts can grant an interlocutory mandatory injunction in certain special circumstances.

(2) The relief of interlocutory mandatory injunction is granted generally to preserve or restore the status quo of the last non-contested status which preceded the pending controversy until the final hearing when full relief may be granted.  But since the granting or non-granting of such an injunction may cause great injustice or irreparable harm to one of the parties, the Courts have evolved certain guidelines.

(3) Generally stated, the guidelines are:

  • (1) The plaintiff has a strong case for trial. That is, it shall be of  a higher standard than a prima facie case that is normally required for a prohibitory injunction;
  • (2) It is necessary to prevent irreparable or serious injury  which normally cannot be compensated in terms of money;
  • (3) The balance of convenience is in favor of the one seeking such relief.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: What do you know about temporary injunction? Explain the conditions and cases in which this kind of injunction is granted.

A temporary injunction is a judicial order that restrains a party from engaging in a particular act or mandates them to perform a specific action until the court reaches a final decision on the matter. It is an essential tool for preserving the status quo, preventing irreparable harm, and ensuring justice is served during the pendency of a civil suit.

Q: In which Cases temporary injunction may be granted?

The principles governing their grant, as outlined in the Civil Procedure Code and the Specific Relief Act of 1877, ensure that such injunctions are granted in situations where there is a strong likelihood of success, irreparable injury, no alternative remedies, and good faith on the part of the applicant.

Q: What is a temporary injunction in a suit for a permanent injunction?

In a suit for permanent injunction, a temporary injunction is a provisional relief sought by the plaintiff during the lawsuit to prevent the immediate harm or maintain the status quo until a final decision on the permanent injunction is reached. It serves as an interim measure, granting temporary relief until the court finalizes the case.

Q: What are the 3 essentials of injunction?

Essentials for grant of interim injunction, all three ingredients, i.e. (i) prima facie arguable case (ii) irreparable loss and (iii) Balance of inConvenience must co-exist, and if one ingredient was missing, injunction could not be granted. [2022  CLC  1153 Lahore]

The three essentials of an injunction can be summarized as follows: First, there must be a prima facie case, meaning the party seeking the injunction must present sufficient evidence to demonstrate the validity of their claim. Second, there should be a likelihood of irreparable harm, indicating that if the injunction is not granted, the party would suffer damage that cannot be adequately compensated through monetary means. Third, the balance of convenience must be considered, weighing the potential harm to the party seeking the injunction against the potential harm to the other party if the injunction is granted.

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