Topic: Shree Devendra Somabhai Naik vs Accurate Transheet Pvt. Ltd - Copyright

Shree Devendra Somabhai Naik vs Accurate Transheet Pvt. Ltd
Equivalent citations: (2003) 1 GLR 589, 2002 (25) PTC 434 Guj - Bench: R R Tripathi - DATE OF JUDGMENT: 5 July, 2002

JUDGMENT

Ravi R. Tripathi, J.

1. Admit. Mr. Acharya, learned Advocate, appears and waives process of admission on behalf of the respondent.

At the request of the learned Advocates for the parties, the Appeal is taken up for final disposal.

2. The present First Appeal is filed under Section 72 of the Copyright Act, 1957 challenging the order passed by the Copyright Board dated 7th September, 2001, whereby it is held that Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is not applicable to the application filed under Section 50 of the Copyright Act, 1957. The Board also held that the Copyright Board is, deemed to be the "Civil Court" only "for limited purpose" otherwise for all other purposes, Copyright Board is a Tribunal and a quasi-judicial authority. Therefore, Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963 has no application to any petition or application made under Section 50 of the Act.

3. Mr. R.K, Shah, learned Advocate for the appellant, submitted that the respondent herein filed an application under Section 50 of the Copyright Act, 1957, on 4th May, 2000. According to him, it is filed beyond the time prescribed under Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963. In the alternative, he submitted that the application was filed after five years of the suit filed by the present appellant. He contended that the Copyright Board ought to have rejected the application on the ground of delay and latches. He submitted that the respondent had the knowledge of the suit, which was filed in the year 1995. They had filed a written statement in the said suit. He submitted that the respondent has not explained the delay by setting out any reason for not filing or not taking any action for long five years. He submitted that the Copyright Board has erred in holding that the provisions of Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963, are not applicable to the application made under Section 50 of the Copyright Act. He submitted that the wordings in Article 137 are,

"any other application for which no period of limitation is provided elsewhere in this division".

Mr. Shah submitted that as the application filed by the respondent falls in the category of 'any other application for which no specific period of limitation is provided'. Article 137 will be applicable as 'residue clause'. He relied upon judgments of the Apex Court in the matter of P. Sarathy v. State Bank of India, (2000) 5 SCC 355 in the matter between Corporation Bank and Anr. v. Navin J. Shah, AIR 2000 SC 761 and in the matter of Canara Bank v. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Ors., (84) Comp. Cases 70.

4. Mr. Shah pointed out the observations of the Hon'ble Apex Court made in the matter of Corporation Bank v. Navin J. Shah (supra), which read as under:

"what is reasonable time to lay a claim depends upon the facts of each case. In the legislative wisdom, three years period has been prescribed as the reasonable time under the Limitation Act to lay a claim for money. We think, that period should be the appropriate standard adopted for computing reasonable time to raise a claim in a matter of this nature. For this reason also, we find the claim made by the respondent ought to have been rejected by the Commission."

Mr. Shah submitted that period of three years is held to be a reasonable period by the Hon'ble Apex Court in number of matters and, therefore, assuming without admitting that the provisions of Article 137 are not applicable, the Copyright Board ought to have rejected the application filed by the respondent on the ground that the same was filed beyond a period of 3 years.

5. Mr. Acharya, learned Advocate appearing for the respondent herein, raised a preliminary contention that the present appeal is not maintainable under the provisions of Section 72 of the Copyright Act. Mr. Acharya submitted that Sub-section (1) of Section 72 provides as under:

"Any person aggrieved by any final decision or order of the Registrar of Copyrights may, within three months from the date of the order or decision, appeals to the Copyright Board.

Sub-section (2) of Section 72 provides as under:

"Any person aggrieved by any final decision or order of the Copyright Board, not being a decision or order made in an appeal under Sub-section (1), may within three months from the date of such decision or order, appeal to the High Court within whose jurisdiction the appellant actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or personally works for gain."

He submitted that this being neither a final decision nor a final order, the appeal is not maintainable. He also contended that the Copyright Board is not a 'Civil Court', as rightly held by the Copyright Board in its order dated 7th September, 2001.

6. The learned Advocate for the respondent invited the attention of this Court to the provisions of Section 12(7) which reads as under:

"The Copyright Board shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purposes of Sections 345 and 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) and all proceedings before the Board shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)."

He also invited the attention of the Court to the provisions of Section 72 wherein the jurisdiction of Court in the matters arising under the Chapter is provided and finally, he submitted that even under Section 74 of the Copyright Act, "Registrar of Copyrights and Copyright Board to possess certain powers of Civil Court". He submitted that in view of these specific provisions wherever the Legislature wanted to confer status of the Civil Court on the Copyright Board, it has made a provision for the same. He submitted that there being no general provision to the effect that the Copyright Board shall be a Civil Court for all purposes, the Copyright Board was right in holding that the Copyright Board is a Tribunal and a quasi-judicial authority for all other purposes than the purposes mentioned in specific in the Copyright Act.

7. The learned Advocate for the respondent submitted that under Section 50 of the Copyright Act, a person aggrieved is given a right to file an application for rectification of the register by Copyright Board, but Section 50 does not provide any time limit. He submitted that in the present case, when the respondent felt it necessary, they approached the Copyright Board by filing an application.

8. The submissions made by Mr. Shah did not find favour with this Court for the reason that the order passed by the Copyright Board is an order whereby it is held that the provisions of Article 137 of the Limitation Act are not applicable and the Board has also held that the Copyright Board is a Tribunal and quasi-judicial authority for all other purposes except for the purposes, which are specifically provided in the Copyright Act. It is an order by which an application under Section 50 of the Copyright Act is entertained and the same will be decided on merits by the Copyright Board. The delay alleged by the present appellant is not believed by the Copyright Board. Entertaining an application is a matter of discretion. In the present case, the Copyright Board in its wisdom, overruling the contention that the application was barred by limitation, decided to entertain the application. It is a discretionary order. It may happen that in the same set of facts, this Court might have taken a different view, but when this Court is examining the decision of the Copyright Board, the same is not required to be set aside without there being an error warranting interference at the hands of this Court.

9. In the alternative, there is a normal trend in favour of condonation of delay so that the party concerned gets an opportunity to put forward its case on merits. It is right also because not condoning the delay shuts down an opportunity to the party as the matter is thrown away right at the threshold without there being an opportunity to contest the matter on merits. So far as the contention of Mr. Shah that in the present case, the party, while filing an application under section 50, has not filed any application for condonation of delay is concerned, it is rightly explained by Mr. Acharya that the same was not filed because according to the party, there being no prescribed period of limitation, there was no delay in filing the application and therefore, the party had not to file any application for condonation of delay. It was only when the present appellant took an objection that the application filed under Section 50 is barred by limitation, the Copyright Board has to pass the order under challenge. Therefore, this contention of Mr. Shah also fails.

10. No doubt, Article 137 deals with filing of applications, but then the applications, which are contemplated to be filed, are the applications filed before the Civil Court. The appellant is also not successful in convincing this Court to hold that the 'Copyright Board' is a 'Civil Court'. In view of the aforesaid discussion, the present appeal fails. The Court has not found any error in the order under challenge. The appeal is dismissed with no order as to costs.

11. In view of the dismissal of the main First Appeal, the Civil Application No. 11134 of 2001 does not survive and the same is disposed of. Notice is discharged.