Madras High Court directs centre not to appoint bureaucrats in Copyright Board

Chennai: The Madras High Court has directed the central government not to appoint any bureaucrat as chairman or member of the Copyright Board and directed that its earlier order on appointments in quasi-judicial boards be followed.

Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh before which the PIL filed by Chennai-based South Indian Music Companies Association came up, said, “Bureaucrat or lesser qualified candidates as chairman and members of Copyright Board should not be appointed and our earlier order on appointing judicial members to quasi-judicial boards, should be followed by government.”

Copyright Board’s judicial functions include determining rate of royalty payable to copyright-holders, revoking copyright granted by the registrar and hearing appeals regarding copyright ability of products/works. As per rules, a chairman and two members are to be nominated to the Board.

The PIL said the Centre had set improper qualification criteria such as Grade I bureaucrats of Indian Legal Services with three years experience be made eligible for the post of Chairman of Copyright Board and no formal qualification was stipulated in case of appointment to the post of members instead of restricting eligibility only to persons with judicial experience.

The First Bench, which issued notice to the Centre, made it clear that the three posts should not be filled without following the consultative mechanism and procedures laid by the court in an earlier case.

In that case settled last month, the court had made it clear only those people with judicial qualification and experience should be appointed as judicial members, and that they alone should be in majority on the bench hearing disputes.

“Judicial functions of hearing appeals and hearing compulsory licences in a quasi-judicial proceeding, where disputes between two parties are resolved resulting in proprietary right of one, cannot be left to be handled by persons who are not judicially trained,” the PIL said.

Inputs with PTI