By, Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar, Central University of South Bihar (Gaya).

Citation: IPRS v. Sanjay Dalia and Anr. MPR 2007 (3) 204, Bench: B. D Ahmed

Facts of the case

The case is of a dispute regarding territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court in entertaining the suit with regard to the matter of infringement of Copyright Act. The statement of jurisdiction empowered the court to hear the case by virtue of section 62(2) of Copyright Act, 1957, as the plaintiff “carries on business” through its branch office in New Delhi situated much within the limit of the High Court. The plaintiff is a company limited by guarantee and registered under Companies Act, 1956 and a registered society under Section 33 of Copyright Act, with its registered society at Mumbai which works for protecting and enforcing rights of authors, composers etc. Defendant No.1 is the Chief General Manager of Defendant No. 2, Cineline Cinemas. As per the facts, defendants have been indulging in continuous violation of rights of plaintiff by communicating to public, literary and musical works from plaintiff’s collection without obtaining license. The defendants have raised objections with regard to the territorial jurisdiction of the court in entertaining the suit filed by the plaintiff and has submitted that the entire cause of action has arisen in Mumbai with principal offices of both parties located in Mumbai.

Arguments on behalf of the defendants

The learned counsel for defendant submitted that section 62(2) of the Copyright Act provided an additional forum where a plaintiff could institute the suit and that does not mean that provisions of Section 20 CPC can be ignored. Section 20 CPC places an impediment based upon the places where the defendant actually or voluntarily resided or carried on business or personally worked for gain. He contented in the present case, that the plaintiff being a corporation, the expression “carries on business” has to be construed same as in explanation of Section 20 CPC. He referred to the case of Dhodha House v. S.K Maingi, AIR 2006 SC 730, wherein, the Supreme Court observed that the territorial jurisdiction conferred upon court in terms of the CPC shall apply to suit under the Copyright Act, and that the condition precedent for attracting Section 62(2) is that plaintiff must actually and voluntary reside or carry on business or work personally for gain. He also referred to the Judgment passed in Lok Nath Prasad Gupta v. Bijay Kumar Gupta,57(1995)DLT 502, wherein it was held that a suit filed with respect to infringement of the Copyright Act has to be read with Section 20 of the CPC.

Arguments on behalf of the plaintiff

The learned counsel for plaintiff submitted that it is stated in the plaint itself that plaintiff carries on business at Delhi through its branch office, and the documents like plaintiff’s annual report also prove the same. He further submitted that Section 62(2) of the Copyright Act is a radical departure from normal rules of jurisdiction provided under Section 20 of the CPC. Referring to Supreme Court’s decision in Exphar SA and Anr. v. Eupharma Laboratories Ltd. and Anr.,(2004)3 SCC 688, he submitted that the object and reason for introduction of Section 62(2) cannot be read as limiting the jurisdiction of District Courts only to cases where person instituting suit actually or voluntarily reside or carry on business or personally works for gain. It prescribed an additional ground for attracting the jurisdiction of a court over the “normal” ground as laid down in Section 20 of the CPC. To support this, he referred to Joint Committee Deliberation in respect to Copyright Bill.

Court’s Observation

The court decided the case in favour of the defendants by placing reliance on the case cited by both parties dealing with the interpretation of Section 20 of the CPC, stating that the cause of action was an aspect inseparable from the suit itself.  The learned Judge read Section 20 of the CPC conjunctively with jurisdictional provision contained in the Copyright and Trademark Act. It was held that merely having a branch office at Delhi would not mean that the plaintiff carries on business at Delhi, for the purpose of Section 20 of the CPC; and the suit may be filed at Delhi only if the cause of action had arisen in Delhi.. Therefore, it was found that pre-conditions for attracting Section 62(2) of the Copyright Act have not been satisfied and that the Court would not have territorial jurisdiction in respect of present plaint. The court ordered the plaint to be returned to the plaintiff for presentation to the proper court.