Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. v. Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd.
2012 (50) PTC 225 (SC)
Whether on a complaint made to the Copyright Board under Section 31 of the Copyright Act, 1957, the said Board under Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) can pass an interim order in the pending complaint.
In other words, whether the Copyright Board has powers to pass interim orders under Section 31 of the Copyright Act, 1957 towards grant of compulsory license and payment of royalty.
On 28th March, 2011, on a Complaint filed by the Respondent, Copyright Board held that it did not have the power to grant an interim compulsory licence. On 1st September, 2011, the Delhi High Court reversed the order passed by the Copyright Board. Aggrieved by the said order, the Appellant filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.
• Impugned order is not dependent upon a specific statutory empowerment to this effect. The power is a common law principle and is not founded on any statute or legislation.
• High Court had erred in holding that even in the absence of an express conferment by statute, the Copyright Board had the power to grant an interim compulsory licence.
• Copyright Board is created Under Section 11 of the Copyright Act, 1957 and being a creature of statute, its powers were confined to the powers given to it by the statute.
• While Section 12 of the Act vested the Copyright Board with the authority to regulate its own procedure and Section 74 conferred certain limited powers of a civil court on the Board, the same were procedural in nature and did not vest the Board with a substantive right to grant interim orders under Section 31 of the Act.
• Being a creature of statute, the Copyright Board could only exercise such powers as were expressly vested in it by the statute.
• Notwithstanding the fact that the Copyright Board was discharging quasi-judicial functions, it did not possess inherent powers to pass interim orders, since it continued to be a tribunal governed by the statute under which it had been created.
• Supreme Court had held on several occasions that while entertaining matters, final relief ought not to have been granted at the interim stage.
• The courts will not imply a power in a particular provision of the statute if the legislative intent behind the statute suggested a contrary view.
• Implying such a power would transform compulsory licensing to statutory licensing without any statutory mandate to do so.
• High Court erred in holding that the Copyright Board had power to grant an interim compulsory licence and that when there was a dispute as to the quantum of fees payable by the licencee, an interim compulsory licence had to be given.
• Section 31 may not have expressly vested the power to pass interim orders on the Copyright Board, but the same would have to be read into the Section as being incidental to the powers granted by the Statute to the Board to grant compulsory licences.
• Copyright Act is a Code in itself and matters relating to copyrights and grant of licences had been left to the Copyright Board for decision, which only lend strength to the submission that the Board is vested with incidental and ancillary powers under Section 31 to give effect to the final relief.
• Copyright Board discharges quasi-judicial functions and has been vested with the power to determine the reasonableness of royalties claimed by performing rights societies and to fix the rates thereof and to consider applications for general licences for public broadcasting of works.
• Copyright Board is to be deemed to be a Civil Court for certain purposes and all proceedings before the Board are to be judicial proceedings.
• Section 19-A of the Copyright Act (in regard to disputes with respect to assignment of copyright) clearly indicates that the Board is an adjudicating authority in regard to disputes between the parties and would, therefore, be deemed to be vested with ancillary powers to make interim orders in aid of the final relief.
• Courts have categorically held that powers to pass certain interim orders were incidental and ancillary to the exercise of powers conferred on a Tribunal by the Statute.
• Section 75 of the Copyright Act provides that the orders for payment of money passed by the Registrar of Copyrights, the Copyright Board or by the High Court would be deemed to be decrees of a Civil Court and would be executable in the same manner as a decree of such Court.
• Powers of the Board had been gradually increased by legislation from time to time.
• Copyright Act is a Code by itself and matters relating to copyright and grant of licences in respect of copyright have been left to the Copyright Board for decision.
• The language used in the Section 31 clearly contemplates a final order after a hearing and after holding an inquiry to see whether the ground for withholding of the work from the public was justified or not. There is no hint of any power having been given to the Board to make interim arrangements, such as, grant of interim compulsory licences, during the pendency of a final decision of an application.
• A Tribunal is a creature of Statute and can exercise only such powers as are vested in it by the Statute. There is a second school of thought that since most Tribunals have the trappings of a Court, it would be deemed to have certain ancillary powers, not provided by the Statute, to maintain the status-quo as prevailing at the time of filing of an application, so that the relief sought for by the Applicant is not ultimately rendered otiose.
• In the absence of any specific vesting of power, no interim relief could be granted, not even of an ad-interim nature.
• Various decisions cited on behalf of the Respondent and the interveners were in the context of the question as to whether a Tribunal has incidental powers, which were inherent though not specifically vested, in order to preserve the status-quo, till a decision was reached in the pending matter.
• In the instant case, the power being sought to be attributed to the Copyright Board involves the grant of the final relief, which is the only relief contemplated Under Section 31 of the Copyright Act. In the instant case, such a power is not even vested in the Copyright Board and hence the question of granting interim relief by grant of an interim compulsory licence cannot arise.
• To grant an interim compulsory licence during the stay of the proceedings would amount to granting the final relief at the interim stage, although the power to grant such relief has not been vested in the Board.
• Tribunals discharging quasi-judicial functions, 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.
• Such incidental powers could at best be said to exist in order to preserve the status-quo, but not to alter the same, as will happen, if an interim compulsory licence is granted.
• If the legislature had intended that the Copyright Board should have powers to grant mandatory injunction at the interim stage, it would have vested the Board with such authority.
Appeal was allowed.