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Section 63 Copyright Act - Copyright Infringement Is A Cognizable & Non Bailable Offence: Supreme Court

Ashok KM
21 May 2022 4:11 PM GMT
Section 63 Copyright Act - Copyright Infringement Is A Cognizable & Non Bailable Offence: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court held that the offence of copyright infringement under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable and non ­bailable offence.

If the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years and onwards but not more than seven years the offence is a cognizable offence, the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna observed.

Background

The appellant had filed an application under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. and sought directions from the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for the registration of FIR against the the respondent- accused for the offences under Sections 51, 63 & 64 of the Copyright Act read with Section 420 of the IPC. Allowing the said application, the CMM directed the concerned SHO to register the FIR under the appropriate provision of law. FIR was registered pursuant to this order. Thereafter the accused filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court with a prayer to quash the criminal proceedings mainly on the ground that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is not a cognizable and a non-­bailable offence. The High Court allowed a writ petition and quashed an FIR registered against the writ petitioners for the offences under Sections 63 and 65 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Contentions

Before the Apex Court in appeal, the appellant contended that the High Court has committed a grave error in observing and holding that the offence punishable under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a non-­cognizable offence and it does not fall within Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C. The respondent contended that that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a non-­cognizable offence.

Issue

The issue was therefore whether, the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable offence as considered by the Trial Court or a non­ cognizable offence?

The bench referred to Section 63 of the Copyright Act and Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C.

Section 63 of the Copyright Act

The court noted that for the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, the punishment provided is imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine.

Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C.

As per the part II, an offence, if punishable with imprisonment for less than 3 years or with fine only is non­ cognizable and bailable. If punishable with imprisonment for 3 years and upwards but not more than 7 years, the offence is cognizable and non ­bailable.

No ambiguity whatsoever

The court noted that the maximum punishment which can be imposed under Section 63 would be three years and therefore, the Magistrate may sentence the accused for a period of three years also.

"In that view of the matter considering Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C., if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years and onwards but not more than seven years the offence is a cognizable offence. Only in a case where the offence is punishable for imprisonment for less than three years or with fine only the offence can be said to be non­cognizable. The language of the provision in Part II of First Schedule is very clear and there is no ambiguity whatsoever."

The accused- respondent had relied on the judgment in Rakesh Kumar Paul vs. State of Assam, (2017) 15 SCC 67 where, the expression "not less than 10 years" in Section 167(2) (a)(i) CrPC was interpreted to mean punishment should be 10 years. The court, however, held that this decision, shall not be applicable to the facts of the case on hand.

While allowing the appeal and setting aside the High Court judgment, the bench observed thus:

...It is observed and held that offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable and non­bailable offence. Consequently, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court taking a contrary view is hereby quashed and set aside and the criminal proceedings against respondent no.2 for the offence under Sections 63 & 64 of the Copyright Act now shall be proceeded further in accordance with law and on its own merits treating the same as a cognizable and non­bailable offence.


Case details

Knit Pro International vs State of NCT of Delhi | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 505 | CrA 807 of 2022 | 20 May 2022

Coram: Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna

Headnotes

Copyright Act, 1957 ; Section 63 - Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Part II of First Schedule - Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable and non­bailable offence. (Para 7)

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Part II of First Schedule - If the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years and onwards but not more than seven years the offence is a cognizable offence. Only in a case where the offence is punishable for imprisonment for less than three years or with fine only the offence can be said to be non­cognizable. [Distinguished Rakesh Kumar Paul vs. State of Assam, (2017) 15 SCC 67 ] (Para 5.3)





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