IPAB has been in the eye of the storm since its inception. While there are ardent believers of the institution (See here and here), there are equally strong arguments by the ones against it (few of them advanced by the former Chairperson of the institution itself!) (See here here and here). A few months ago, the Executive seemingly laid the debate to rest by introducing the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill 2021, proposing to scrap IPAB. However, the bill was not passed in the session it was introduced and is now seemingly pushed to the next session for fruition. In a recent development surrounding this event, the President, apparently being satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, on 04/04/21 promulgated the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance 2021 (pdf) using the powers under Article 123 (1) of the Constitution.
While a detailed post on the assessment of the ordinance shall follow soon, it is pertinent to note that the ordinance has effectively scrapped the IPAB and have transferred the powers and duties of the Board to the High Courts, under Chapter V (for patents) Chapter VII (for Trademarks) Chapter VIII (for GI) Chapter IX (for Plant Varieties) and to Commercial Courts under Chapter III (for Copyright).
But what about the matters pending before the IPAB? The ordinance under clause 15 makes available the remedy in form of the Transitional Provisions. It states that-
- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, any person appointed as the Chairperson or Chairman or President or Presiding Officer or Vice-Chairperson or Vice-Chairman or Vice- President or Member of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal, or, as the case may be, other Authorities specified in the Schedule and holding office as such immediately before the notified date, shall, on and from the notified date, cease to hold such office, and he shall be entitled to claim compensation not exceeding three months’ pay and allowances for the premature termination of term of his office or of any contract of service.
(2) The officers and other employees of the Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and other Authorities specified in the Schedule appointed on deputation, before the notified date, shall, on and from the notified date, stand reverted to their parent cadre, Ministry or Department.
(3) Any appeal, application or proceeding pending before the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal or other Authorities specified in the Schedule, other than those pending before the Authority for Advance Rulings under the Income-tax Act, 1961, before the notified date, shall stand transferred to the Court before which it would have been filed had this Ordinance been in force on the date of filing of such appeal or application or initiation of the proceeding, and the Court may proceed to deal with such cases from the stage at which it stood before such transfer, or from any earlier stage, or de novo, as the Court may deem fit.
(4) The balance of all monies received by, or advanced to, the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal or other Authorities specified in the Schedule and not spent by it before the notified date, shall, on and from the notified date, stand transferred to the Central Government.
(5) All property of whatever kind owned by, or vested in, the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal or other Authorities specified in the Schedule before the notified date, shall stand transferred to, on and from the notified date, and shall vest in the Central Government.
Huge thanks to the anonymous readers of the Blog for immediately sharing a copy of the Ordinance with us so we could write on it.
edit: edit: Interesting observation- does it mean this ordinance overrules the newly announced Copyright Rules? The ordinance doesn’t expressly refer to the new Rules at all. See Nikhil’s question on this raised here.