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Breaking: Finance Minister Proposes a Draft Bill in Lok Sabha to Shut Down IPAB


image from here

Just hours ago we broke the story about the Supreme Court judgement (pdf) dismissing the application seeking extension of the incumbent IPAB Chairperson and now we are in knowledge of an immensely interesting Draft Bill (pdf) introduced in the Lok Sabha which proposes to shut IPAB for good! The Bill was introduced the day before yesterday (11.02.2021) by the Union Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, bearing the title “The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation And Conditions Of Service) Bill, 2021”. While seeking to dismantle the IPAB, the Bill proposes to transfer its powers to High Courts (for patent, trademarks, GI, Plant Varieties related issues) and to Commercial Courts (for copyright matters). (see here, here, here and here for the previous debate  between Prashant and Arun on scrapping/ keeping IPAB.)

Those of you who have followed the 2021 Union Budget, might be aware that the government sought to reform the tribunal system in the country to ensure “speedy justice”. The bill seems to be in furtherance of this endeavor. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the proposed bill under para 3 and 4  accords the reasons for shutting down IPAB and 4 other appellate authorities and I am not surprised to see that they resonate well with the reasons which Prashant suggested in his posts here and here. The two para (s) are reproduced here for your reference:

  1. In the second phase, analysis of data of the last three years has shown that tribunals in several sectors have not necessarily led to faster justice delivery and they are also at a considerable expense to the exchequer. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has deprecated the practice of tribunalisation of justice and filing of appeals directly from tribunals to the Supreme Court in many of its judgements, including S.P Sampath Kumar versus Union of India (1987) 1 SCC 124, L. Chandra Kumar versus Union of India (1997) 3 SCC 261, Roger Mathew versus South Indian Bank Limited (2020) 6 SCC 1 and Madras Bar Association versus Union of India and another (2020) SCC Online SC 962. Therefore, further streamlining of tribunals is considered necessary as it would save considerable expense to the exchequer and at the same time, lead to speedy delivery of justice. Accordingly, it is proposed to abolish some more tribunals and transfer the jurisdiction exercised by them to the High Court.
  2. The tribunals that are proposed to be abolished in this phase are of the kind which handle cases in which public at large is not a litigant or those which neither take away any significant workload from High Courts which otherwise would have adjudicated such cases nor provide speedy disposal. Many cases do not achieve finality at the level of tribunals and are litigated further till High Courts and Supreme Court, especially those with significant implications. Therefore, these tribunals only add to another additional layer of litigation. Having a separate tribunal requires administrative action in terms of filling up of posts and such other matters, and any delay in such action further delays disposal of cases. Reducing the number of tribunals shall not only be beneficial for the public at large, reduce the burden on public exchequer, but also address the issue of shortage of supporting staff of tribunals and infrastructure.

Though the bill has only been proposed in the lower house as of now, I don’t think it will face any resistance in becoming an Act owing to the majority enjoyed by the NDA in both the houses of the Parliament. We are saving the discussion on the nitty gritties of the Bill for a later post along with the separate post on the above Supreme Court ruling, however, one cannot help but notice the uncanny coincidence that just the day after the proposal of this bill, the apex court dictates a judgement dismissing the request for extension of the incumbent Chairperson of the Board!

5 comments.

    1. Praharsh Gour Post author

      Hey Mr. Sagar,
      Thank you for your comment and pointing this out.
      I went through the text of the bill, the bill neither expressly declares that its a “finance bill” nor does it say that it has been introduced on “the recommendation of the President of India” (which is a requisite for a finance bill).

      Reply
  1. Anonymous

    We always compare ourselves with America or Europe whenever we achieve little in comparison to these countries but when we are fail to deliver the system then we avoid comparing with other developed systems purposely so on one is able to pinpoint or bring deficiencies creeping in our system but actually that is our fault, we have ruined the our well built up systems to satisfy our egos I know few of amongst us and their behind the scene director must b rejoicing by now

    Actually, the IPAB started with its 1st bad choice of selecting a place Chennai in place of Delhi that was itself was a wrong choice from its inception, which went all the way to create ditch for its down fall, the decision of establishing it HQ on on deep south was a political brownie point may b politically earned by a poiltician but alas what a coincident one minister from south established it in Chennai and the other minister from south brought down IPAB to its grave.

    Any of lawyers those who go n participate in the high sophisticated PR hotel events in USA of INTA must b knowing fairly working of TTAB where they usually present themselves as not as attorneys in but agents of weak judicial system of India but they do not leave a stone to cry and shout when they hold a pamphlet letter of a poor agent who sends it as a promotional letter to clients for developing work but these so called high flying attorneys get together and start crying on promotional material but they forget their own conduct of attending these events and organising late evening parties in these high profile PR events of ITAA to fetch multinational companies as clients and attract foreign attorneys as clients then they forget altogether all framed BCI Rules

    In USA how TTAB has been effectively managing the appellate affairs of TM applications rejected or accepted by the USA trademark registry, how the US trademark registry officials represent in TTAB hearings, if you compare with Indian system, even our attorneys appearing in the cases before IPAB prefer ex parte orders against the TM registry and at that moment nor any one of the petitioner counsels insists for their presence even board is also in a such hurry that some heaven will fall and eagerly gives desired one sided orders to counsels with out TM officials representing the case.

    We can not shrug off our contribution as attorneys in closure of the IPAB as most of the attorneys were sitting as lame duck for last more than one year and they have allowed irregularities to happen in terms if listing n hearings of cases by a member who was otherwise not qualified to hear matter in IPAB rather few of black sheep’s went further filed Personal interest litigation (PIL) in courts to get favourable orders from higher courts for a particular individual functionary of IPAB.

    This, in a way other attorneys also saw a opportunity to take advantage of higher court orders, wherein working of the IPAB brought contrary to statute spirit and every rules were brought to tailspin. The petitions were listed on call and the tribunal working reached to new heights by taking tribunal to the house / office door of attorneys, overall attorneys also enjoyed new working style where tribunal is available 24 hours on call no need to serve other party nor registry carried any scrutiny nor numbering on petitions was not required any more just go n file case in Chennai a day before n get orders next day morning in Delhi . No one will ask Anup thing just present half baked petition n take order like ATM machine with the premise that the petitioner counsel is messenger of god whatever petition says it is gospel truth but noting else, as such we all attorneys are to be equally blamed and responsibility’s is also rest on our shoulders as 70% of attorneys were sitting as lame duck and enjoying abundance water of flowing from river by obtaining orders and the rest of attorneys having high profiles were part of its illegal continuance,

    But no one thought that as attorneys, we have responsibilities to plug illegality n to tame the government to ensure that this tribunal works fairly and properly n no one had brought a petition for bringing systematic working of Tribunal but intervened in the court with their sole aim n interest was to get relief for a particular chairman continuance in IPAB nothing more or nothing less then one single sole relief of his continuation that petition was intently wrong facts were inserted to take favourable orders n that coterie of lawyers succeeded in obtaining orders too now final judgement of 12th February judgement unfolds that one group was working in tandem, so that group of lawyers with their backside directors holding strings is also responsible for bringing closure of IPAB no individual is indispensable persons come and go institution remains but by these attorneys actually succeeded in making this tribunal working made to go on knees for one ambition of one sole individual.

    That history will not forgive n erase their contributions they have made in closure of IPAB as the names of few black sheep’s amongst ipr attorneys will be always remembered who have played a major part in its closure and it is known fact that how few attorneys played a pivotal role in closure of this tribunal.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Dear Anon
      To certain extent you are right. But I think functioning of IPAB itself is also responsible. On many occasions IPAB seems to have exceeded its jurisdiction. For Instance, any amendment proposed by the litigant at IPAB can not be allowed by IPAB rather such amendments have to be sent to the controller for taking his opinion. But recently in many decisions ,IPAB itself seems to have assumed the power and allowed the amendments without the opinion of the controller.Kindly note that IPAB and High Court have power under section 58 to allow amendment in patent specification without the opinion of controller oONLY in the proceeding relating to Revocation of patent ,NOT Otherwise. Therefore dismantling of IPAB is not just in the interest of litigants but also IN THE INTEREST OF COUNTRY. RIGHT STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION to develop more stronger IP System in India

      Reply

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