Appellant: In the absence of hard copy of the copyrights certificate, it will be difficult for the start ups to challenge infringement of their copyrights in a Court - PIO: Digital registration certificate is admissible - CIC: No action warranted
The Appellant filed an online RTI application dated 30.07.2020 seeking the following information pertaining to Public Grievance No. DOIPP/E/2020/00360, the DRoC in his letter F. No. -10-01/2020-CO dated 27/07/2020 claims (it is to inform you that the extracts of Copyright registration certificate bearing ROC No. 1-89122/2020 of the Diary no. 18019/2019-CO/L, had already been sent to your registered e-mail id on 27/01/2020). In this regard, provide the information:
1) I request a hardcopy of the same duly signed by the authorized or delegated authority.
2) Copyright registration is stated to be incomplete if the registration details are not shared vide Section 70 (13 & 14) of Copyright Rules.
3) Certificate of Roc is denied for a work filed in year 2019, whereas given for a work filed in year 2020 (when both were filed online).
The CPIO furnished point wise reply to the appellant on 13.08.2020 stating as follows:-
“Query no. 1:- it is to inform you that the Diary no. 18019/2019-CO/L has been filed by you through online mode therefore no hard copy of registration certificate was forwarded to you.
Query no. 2:- it is to further inform you that the extracts of Copyright registration certificate bearing ROC No. L-89122/2020 of the Diary no. 18019/2019-CO/L which was approved and duly signed by the Deputy registrar of copyrights had already been sent to your registered e-mail id i.e firstname.lastname@example.org. on 27.01.2020 through online mode and complied with the sub- rules (13 & 14) of Rule-70 of the Copyright Rules 2013.
Query no. 3:- it is stated that no details is given by you hence unable to provide the information.
Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 24.08.2020. FAA’s order dated 23.09.2020 upheld the reply of CPIO. Furthermore, the grievance of the applicant has also been addressed by dispatch of hard copy of the said certificate which has been received by the applicant on 17.09.2020.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio conference.
Respondent: Iqbal Singh Juneja, Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks & CPIO present through audio conference.
The Appellant stated that through this appeal he aims to bring out the inconsistency in the procedure followed by the Respondent office in issuing copyrights registration certificate and problems faced by start-up entrepreneurs. In the absence of hard copy of the copyrights certificate, it will be difficult for the start ups to challenge infringement of their copyrights in a Court of Law based on mere digitised proofs and the litigation process will thus incur unwarranted costs.
The Commission apprised the Appellant about the mandate of the RTI Act and facilitated a brief discussion on the issues raised by him to which the CPIO responded and attempted to clarify that digital registration certificate is issued as per their procedure and is indeed an admissible document in a Court of Law.
The Commission based on a perusal of the facts on record observes that the Appellant has gone beyond the mandate of the RTI Act in seeking additional information at the First & Second Appeal stage based on the reply received from the CPIO in response to the instant RTI Application while bringing up issues concerning the merits of the administrative processes of the Respondent office.
The issues thus raised by the Appellant are not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Commission under the RTI Act and the superior Courts have made observations to this effect in a catena of judgments over the course of time.
In particular, reference may be had of a judgment of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of Hansi Rawat and Anr. v. Punjab National Bank and Ors. (LPA No.785/2012) dated 11.01.2013 wherein it has been held as under:
"6. The proceedings under the RTI Act do not entail detailed adjudication of the said aspects. The dispute relating to dismissal of the appellant No.2 LPA No.785/2012 from the employment of the respondent Bank is admittedly pending consideration before the appropriate fora. The purport of the RTI Act is to enable the appellants to effectively pursue the said dispute. The question, as to what inference if any is to be drawn from the response of the PIO of the respondent Bank to the RTI application of the appellants, is to be drawn in the said proceedings and as aforesaid the proceedings under the RTI Act cannot be converted into proceedings for adjudication of disputes as to the correctness of the information furnished."
The aforesaid rationale finds resonance in another judgment of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the matter of Govt. of NCT of Delhi vs. Rajender Prasad (W.P.[C] 10676/2016) dated 30.11.2017 wherein it was held as under:
“6. The CIC has been constituted under Section 12 of the Act and the powers of CIC are delineated under the Act. The CIC being a statutory body has to act strictly within the confines of the Act and is neither required to nor has the jurisdiction to examine any other controversy or disputes.”
While, the Apex Court in the matter of Union of India vs Namit Sharma (Review Petition [C] No.2309 of 2012) dated 03.09.2013 observed as under:
“20. …While deciding whether a citizen should or should not get a particular information “which is held by or under the control of any public authority”, the Information Commission does not decide a dispute between two or more parties concerning their legal rights other than their right to get information in possession of a public authority….” (Emphasis Supplied)
In view of the foregoing observations, no action is warranted in the matter. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: Ramesh Balasubramaniam v. Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks in File No: CIC/CGPDT/A/2020/688343, Date of Decision: 20/01/2022