A short while ago, I was given to understand that today the Supreme Court of India has ruled that the Copyright Board does not have the power to pass interim orders in proceedings instituted under Section 31 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Section 31 deals with the power of the Copyright Board to grant compulsory license in respect of copyrighted works.
The said decision was passed in a Special Leave Petition against a decision of Justice Vikramjit Sen of the Delhi High Court delivered on September 1, 2011.
Justice Sen in his order of September 2011 had ruled thus:
“We make it clear that the Copyright Board is free to come to its own conclusion in respect of an interim arrangement as well as final terms of a compulsory licence, if it finds no impediment in doing so, without being influenced in any manner by the interim arrangement devised by us.”
I tend to agree with the decision of Justice Sen because a body such as the Copyright Board, which is vested with the power to fix final royalties must be logically deemed to have the power to decide interim royalties as well until a final decision is taken. It is surprising that the Supreme Court is of the opinion that the Board does not have the inherent equitable power to fix interim rates.
Before commenting any further, we will await the release of the final copy of the written order.