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It has been exactly two years since the Madras High Court admitted two PILs challenging the constitutionality of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and the Copyright Board; the first filed by Shamnad and the second by the South Indian Music Companies Association (SIMCA).
While the petition against the Copyright Board was rendered infructuous when Parliament amended the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 last year, the petition challenging the constitutionality of the IPAB is very much alive since absolutely nothing has changed in the two years since the PIL was first filed.
There have of course been minor victories, like the report of Justice Sridevan about the Central Govt.’s apathy towards the IPAB and the fact that the DIPP at least made an attempt to find new office space for the IPAB. But what about the qualification criteria of the members being appointed to the IPAB? What of the terms and conditions of their appointment? What of the support and infrastructure being provided to the IPAB? These were the main issues raised in the PIL.
For reasons, which I can’t comprehend, this PIL is simply not making any progress before the Madras High Court. This unbelievably slow progress is in complete contrast to the lightning speed with which the Madras High Court heard and struck down large portions of the legislation creating the National Company Law Tribunal. That challenge was heard and disposed by the Madras High Court in less than year. On appeal, the Supreme Court took five years to hear and deliver judgment in the appeal. This is one of the reasons that the Madras High Court was chosen as the forum for the challenge against the IPAB.
It is a full time job being an optimist in India these days but with the Indian judiciary even the most die-hard optimist will have to work over-time.