Copyright Board and Constitutional Infirmities: Failure of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 and Suggestions for Reforms
Volume 5 Issue 4 (2012)
Tribunalisation has been accorded constitutional legitimacy by the courts in India. It has evolved from serving as an alternate institutional mechanism, to one that is integrated within the judicial framework. However, even in their supplemental roles, tribunals have been used as a tool by the executive to undermine judicial independence. It is in the background of such unfettered transfer of judicial power to quasi-judicial bodies, and the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 that the paper examines the constitutionality of two specific tribunals, namely, the Copyright Board and the Intellectual Property Appellate Board. The two bodies are vested with judicial powers to effectively discharge their functions. Their competence is however undermined by their lack of independent and transparent mechanisms. The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, while claiming to enhance the competence of the Copyright Board, seems to have done little to iron out the constitutional infirmities. In fact, its silence on specifications of stringent qualification requirements for the members of the Board and the issue of their tenure only seeks to increase the infirmities. The issue is further compounded by the fact that the Amendment seeks to vest the Board with unbridled powers. In order to ensure effective adjudication, the systemic overhaul of these infirmity ridden institutions is imperative. The law should strive towards structuring a transparent and an independent institution, as opposed to one with unbridled powers but no mechanism to control such power.