Trademark

CIC recommends disciplinary action against errant CPIO at Trademark Registry


In a landmark decision on the 24th of November, 2011, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has recommended disciplinary action against an errant Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) for repeatedly violating the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The decision of the CIC can be accessed over here. We were pointed towards this decision by an anonymous commentator who left a comment on an earlier post of ours involving the same CPIO. Image from here.
The Central Information Commission hears appeals and complaints against CPIOs of the Central Government who unlawfully deny information requested for under the RTI Act. The CPIO in this particular case is the same CPIO who was fined a sum of Rs. 25,000 by the CIC just a few months ago. In the present case the CPIO had once again denied the applicant information without any cogent reasons. Two such unsubstantiated denials within the same period of time are obviously bound to raise eyebrows. 
The CIC notes that the repeated errant conduct of the CPIO required a punishment greater than a fine and therefore ordered the Controller General of Patents, Trademarks and Designs to initiate disciplinary action against the CPIO. In pertinent part the CIC notes in its order: 
The Commission feels that such lackadaisical attitude of the Respondent CPIO cannot be changed by merely levying penalties one after another, under Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act. The citizenry is concerned with access to information at the end of the day and if an officer such as the CPIO, who is otherwise appointed to act as a statutory facilitator for providing information to the citizenry, starts acting like a resistor instead; then the citizenry will have to eventually suffer. Such a situation must be prevented from arising or subsisting and therefore, the background leading to the present case demands disciplinary action against the Respondent CPIO.” 
This decision of the CIC is an extremely welcome decision and will hopefully serve as a deterrent against any future misconduct by errant CPIOs. The appeal leading to this decision was filed by Mr. Mohan Vidhani, a respected IP attorney practicing in New Delhi. The earlier appeal against the same CPIO was filed by Advocate Kamal Kishore Arora. It is heartening to see the IP bar finally taking up the cause of the RTI Act and moving ahead with such determined action against the erring officers. A few more courageous lawyers like them will ensure that the system cleans itself up in no time.
Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

6 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    There is also increase in number of fraudulent practitioners in the field of Patents, which the patent examiners have ignored/overlooked it several times. I have one reference application in which lawyer has taken POA reciting himself as a agent, which was not questioned by examiner. Are there any equations there-between needs to searched.

    Reply
  2. AvatarPrashant Reddy

    That’s interesting – Could you email me the name of the lawyer in question. My email ID is [email protected]. Alternatively you could leave it in the comments section, we will however not release the comment on the blog until we confirm the status of the lawyer in question.

    Reply
  3. AvatarAnonymous

    It is sad to know that lawyers had to resort to filing of complaint/appeal to CIC. This shows the attitude of the CPIO or the state of affairs in the IP Office. As what I think lawyers would be the last persons to file complaints/appeals before CIC and to seek the penalties and disciplinary actions against an officer before whom they appear.
    HOWEVER, it has been noticed that the lawyers did not appear before the CIC. In the second order where the disciplinary action has been recommended by CIC, it is clearly mentioned that the appellant was absent. From this what is understood is that the CIC has taken the matters very seriously.
    People are forbidden to meet the officials, the officials would not reply to the letters written by applicants/lawyers, what other remedy with the people/lawyers remains except to file the RTI applications. If the CPIO does not reply in response to RTI where should the applicants/lawyers go. In your earlier blogs it has been noticed that the opinion of the CPIO is that lawyers are not entitled to the information under RTI. This is strange. What do you say prashant?

    Reply
  4. AvatarPrashant Reddy

    Its nothing but a result of poor training and under-staffing at the Trademark Office. The CPIO should ideally be a fulltime officer, however most departments depute an existing officer as a CPIO and the poor officer has to now manage two workloads. This can be a nightmare in cases where the Govt. records are badly kept. Having said that I have to say that most Central Government Ministries have been very prompt in handling most of my RTI queries.

    Best,
    Prashant

    Reply
  5. AvatarAnonymous

    Prashant,

    If you think proper, would you please disclose the name of the lawyer which has been sent to you in your mail box (of course unless the sender of the information has stopped you from doing so).

    12/12/2011

    Reply

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