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December 20, 2019

Copyright Infringement Re-affirmed As Being A Non-Cognizable Offence

Author: Andri Shukla

In the matter of Anurag Sanghi v. State and Ors. [W.P. (Crl.) 3422/2018 and Crl. M.A. 35858/2018], the Delhi High Court, vide its judgement dated November 25, 2019, held that the criminal offence of infringement of copyright under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957, is non-cognizable.

The Petitioner filed the instant Writ Petition praying for quashing of the FIR and resulting criminal proceedings against him. The FIR was registered for violation of an ex-parte injunction restraining the Petitioner from manufacturing “Lykke Knitting Needles” and thus infringing Knit Pro’s (Respondent No. 2) copyright therein. The Petitioner contended that Section 63, which provides for imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years, falls within the third category under Part II of the First Schedule to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which states that offences punishable with imprisonment less than three years are non-cognizable and bailable.

The Respondents countered that the offence falls within the second category, which provides that offences punishable with imprisonment for 3 or more years and up to 7 years, are cognizable and non-bailable.

The Delhi High Court, while considering the punishment under Section 63, observed that “the maximum term of sentence that can be imposed must be considered”, which in the instant case being three years, would render the offence cognizable. However, inspite of this obiter, the Court relied on the decisions in Avinash Bhosale v. Union of India, (Supreme Court, 2007) and State Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Naresh Kumar Garg (Delhi High Court, 2013), according to which an offence punishable by imprisonment of upto 3 years is non-cognizable and bailable.

Thus, the Court, while admitting that the Supreme Court “has not indicated any reasons for its conclusion/observation” in Avinash Bhosale, held that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act was non-cognizable, thereby quashing the FIR registered against the Plaintiff.

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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