News By/Courtesy: Akanksha Dash | 23 May 2020 13:30pm IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The petitioner questions the existence of copyright on Bare Acts.
  • It alleges that businessmen imposed extremely high prices.
  • It infringes the

On a Public Interest Litigation filed seeking directions to the Government concerning the availability of Bare Acts at a reasonable price the Supreme Court issued notice.
The notice was rendered by a three-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna, and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
The petitioner questions the copyright on the Acts and Rules of Parliament that is held by the government and how it has failed to effectively apply the provisions of the Copyright Act in the larger public interest.
This failure to ensure that such Bare Acts, Notification, Rules, etc. availability for a reasonable price violates a citizen’s right of right to know under the Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
"The Respondents cannot be allowed to infringe with impunity, the fundamental right of citizens of India being "Right to Know", which obliges Respondents to bring to the knowledge of citizens as regards the law that is prevalent as on date and to disseminate knowledge about the same by way of publishing Acts of Parliament, Rules, Notifications, Regulations, etc. which are not only reasonably priced but accurate and authentic as well".

Also, by allowing "some private businessmen" to publish these Bare Acts, the government has allowed the public to suffer, and consequently, those businessmen have created a monopoly and charging exorbitant prices for the Acts.
Also, the petitioner contends, as the "Acts of Parliament, etc. are admittedly in the public domain and under copyright ownership of Government, therefore, the same could not have been allowed to be used by selected few for commercial gains and at best, could only have been used for personal or professional use by the public at large….Therefore, such gross abuse of power cannot be allowed to supersede the larger public interest".
This petition is also challenging a Delhi High Court order of 2019 where a similar PIL was filed before the HC and the same was disposed of by the court stating that "as and when there is any violation of the Copyright Act 1957, especially Section 52 read with Section 52(K); 17(d) and other provisions of the Constitution of India, action will be taken by the Respondents following the law, rules, regulations and government policies applicable to the facts and circumstances of the case against erring publishers".
This PIL has been filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Arpit Bhargava, and it raises the following questions of law:

“A. Whether the government is duty-bound to publish and make available authentic, accurate, and reasonably priced hard copies of all Acts of Parliament, Rules, Notifications, Regulations, etc. along with amendments from time to time?

B. Whether "right to know" under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India extends to ensuring the availability of all Acts of Parliament, Rules, Notifications, Regulations, etc. along with amendments from time to time to public at large?

C. Whether the government is the copyright owner in the Acts of Parliament along with Rules, Regulations, Notifications, etc. in terms of provisions of Copyright Act, 1957, in particular Section 17(d)?

D. Whether the act of publishing "Bare Acts" by parties other than government constitutes an infringement of the copyright of government in terms of Section 52(1)(q) of Copyright Act, 1957?”

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 23 May 2020 15:57pm IST


Tags : bare act, copyright, public interest

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