Trappings of court do not a court make

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | Updated: Jun 13 2012, 06:01am hrs
Copyright Boards powers

Putting an end to a much debated copyright issue, the Supreme Court has held that the Copyright Board does not have powers to grant compulsory licence while deciding a complaint under Section 31 of the Copyrights Act. There is no provision in the Act granting the board the power, though it is a quasi-judicial body, it said, adding that such an interim order will have the colour of a final order in copyright disputes. It is no doubt true, that tribunals discharging quasi-judicial functions and having the trappings of a court, are generally considered to be vested with incidental and ancillary powers to discharge their functions, but that cannot surely mean that in the absence of any provision to the contrary, such tribunal would have the power to grant at the interim stage the final relief which it could grant, the apex court said in the case of Super Cassettes Industries vs Music Broadcasting Pvt Ltd. In this case, MBPL was broadcasting sound recordings owned by Super Cassettes under a mutually agreed license. After the Copyright Board granted a compulsory license against PPL in a separate order, MBPL asked Super Cassettes to license the sound recordings at the same rate. MBPL approached the Copyright Board after Super Cassettes rejected its request. The Board rejected MBPLs plea saying it did not have powers to grant any interim relief. On appeal, the Delhi High Court reversed the Boards order by holding that where the dispute is over the quantum of licence fee, an interim compulsory licence had to be granted.

Protect Lakshadweep

Setting aside the Kerala High Courts decision that allowed tourist sites to come up in Lakshadweep islands without obtaining necessary environment clearances, the Supreme Court has appointed an expert committee headed by its former judge Justice RV Raveendran to give a comprehensive report on all aspects of development of the islands. The apex court in the case of Union Territory of Lakshadweep vs Seashells Beach Resorts said that the high court had proceeded on humanitarian and equitable considerations, neglecting more important questions that have an impact on the future development of the islands. It further said the High Court had failed to appreciate that equitable considerations were wholly misplaced when the very erection of the building to be used as a resort violated the CRZ requirements or the conditions of land use diversion.

Experts & Customs

Dismissing the Commissioner of Customs (Imports) appeal against the 2003 ruling of the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal in a case involving M/s Konkan Synthetic Fibres, the Supreme Court said that in a fiscal or taxation law, while ascertaining the scope or expressions used in a particular entry, the opinion of the expert in the field of trade, who deals in those goods should not be ignored; rather it should be given due importance. In this case, the Revenue authorities had denied duty benefits to the firm on the grounds that the imported goods were not in consonance with the exemption notification. However, the tribunal found that the firm, which had imported Kari Mayer High Speed Draw Warping Machine, was eligible for exemption for its import of High Speed Draw Warping Machine. CESTAT had relied on the view of the textile commissioner who was well conversant with these machines. The apex court also endorsed the tribunals view holding that when there is no statutory definition of a particular machinery, the opinion of experts should be accepted by the department.