M/s Knit Pro International vs The State of NCT of Delhi & Anr.

M/s Knit Pro International vs The State of NCT of Delhi & Anr.

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 807 of 2022 
M/s Knit Pro International   ...Appellant 
Versus
The State of NCT of Delhi & Anr.                       ...Respondents
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 25.11.2019 passed by the High
Court of Delhi at New Delhi in Writ Petition (Crl.) No.3422 of
2018   by   which   the   High   Court   has   allowed   the   said   writ
petition and has quashed the FIR bearing No.431 of 2018 filed
against the respondents for the offences under Sections 63
and 65 of the Copyright Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as
‘Copyright Act’), the original complainant has preferred to the
present appeal.
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2. That   the   appellant   herein   filed   an   application   under
Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. and sought directions from the learned
Chief   Metropolitan   Magistrate   for   the   registration   of   FIR
against the respondent No.2 herein for the offences under
Sections 51, 63 & 64 of the Copyright Act read with Section
420 of the IPC.  By order dated 23.10.2018, the learned CMM
allowed the said application and directed the concerned SHO
to register the FIR under the appropriate provision of law.
That pursuant to the said order, FIR bearing No.431 of 2018
came   to   be   registered   with   PS   Bawana.     That   thereafter
respondent no.2 herein – original accused filed the present
petition before the High Court with a prayer to quash the
criminal proceedings on various grounds.   However, at the
time of hearing, the original writ petitioner – accused prayed
to quash the criminal proceedings on the sole ground that the
offence   under   Section   63   of   the   Copyright   Act   is   not   a
cognizable and a non­bailable offence.
2.1 By the impugned judgment and order the High Court has
allowed the said writ petition and has quashed the criminal
proceedings and the order passed by the learned CMM passed
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in   Criminal   Application   under   Section   156(3)   Cr.P.C.   by
holding that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act
is a non­cognizable offence.
3. Mr. R.K. Tarun, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the appellant has vehemently submitted 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
non­cognizable offence and it does not fall within Part II of the
First Schedule of the Cr.P.C.
3.1 It is submitted that while holding that the offence under
Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a non­cognizable offence,
the High Court has not properly appreciated the decision of
this Court in the case of  Rakesh  Kumar  Paul  vs.  State  of
Assam,   (2017)  15  SCC  67  and has misinterpreted the said
judgment.   
3.2 It is submitted that in the case of Intelligence Officer,
Narcotics  Control  Bureau  vs.  Sambhu  Sonkar,  AIR  2001
SC 830, it is specifically observed and held by this Court that
the maximum term of imprisonment that is prescribed for the
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said   offence,   cannot   be   excluded   for   the   purpose   of
classification of the offence.
3.3 It is submitted by learned counsel for the appellant that
for the offences under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, the
punishment shall be imprisonment for a term which shall not
be less than six months but which may extend to three years.
It is submitted that therefore the punishment of three years
can be imposed for the said offence.  It is submitted therefore
that Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C. would be
applicable.   It   is   submitted   that   only   in   a   case   where   the
offence   punishable   with   imprisonment   for   less   than   three
years or with fine only offence shall be non­cognizable.  It is
submitted that as per Part II of the First Schedule of the
Cr.P.C,. if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for
three years and upwards but not less than 7 years, the offence
would be cognizable.  It is submitted that in that view of the
matter   the   High   Court   has   committed   a   grave   error   in
quashing the FIR while holding that the offence under Section
63 of the Copyright Act is a non­cognizable offence. 
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4. Present   appeal   is   vehemently   opposed   by   Shri
Siddhartha   Dave,   learned   Senior   Advocate   appearing   on
behalf of respondent no.2.
4.1 Shri   Dave,   learned   Senior   Counsel   has   heavily   relied
upon the decision of this Court in the case of Rakesh Kumar
Paul (supra).  It is submitted that in the aforesaid decision the
expression “not less than 10 years” has been interpreted by
this Court and it is held that the said expression would mean
punishment should be 10 years and therefore, Section 167(2)
(a)(i) would apply.   It is submitted that in that view of the
matter the High Court has not committed any error in holding
that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a
non­cognizable offence.
4.2 In   the   alternative,   it   is   prayed   by   Shri   Dave   learned
Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of respondent no.2 that if
this Court holds that the offence under Section 63 of the
Copyright Act is a cognizable offence, in that case, the matter
may be remanded to the High Court to decide the writ petition
on merits on other grounds, as no other grounds were pressed
into service.
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5. We have heard learned counsel for the respective parties
at length.
5.1 The   short   question   which   is   posed   for   consideration
before this Court is, whether, the offence under Section 63 of
the Copyright Act is a cognizable offence as considered by the
Trial Court or a non­cognizable offence as observed and held
by the High Court.
5.2 While answering the aforesaid question Section 63 of the
Copyright Act and Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C.
are required to be referred to and the same are as under:
"63.   Offence   of   infringement   of   copyright   or
other rights conferred by this Act. ­ Any person who
knowingly infringes or abets the infringement of­ 
 (a) the copyright in a work, or 
  (b) any other right conferred by this Act, except
the   right   conferred   by   section   53A   except   the   right
conferred   by   section   53A   shall   be   punishable   with
imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than
six months but which may extend to three years and
with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand
rupees   but   which   may   extend   to   two   lakh   rupees:
Provided   that   where   the   infringement   has   not   been
made for gain in the course of trade or business the
court   may,   for   adequate   and   special   reasons   to   be
mentioned   in   the   judgment,   impose   a   sentence   of
imprisonment for a term of less than six months or a
fine of less than fifty thousand rupees.  
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Explanation ­ Construction of a building or other
structure which infringes or which, if completed, would
infringe the copyright in some other work shall not be
an offence under this section."
II – CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCES AGAINST OTHER LAWS
Offence Cognizable or
non­cognizable
Bailable or
noncognizable
By what
court triable
If   punishable
with   death,
imprisonment
for   life,   or
imprisonment
for more than
7 years
Cognizable Non­bailable Court of
Session
If   punishable
with
imprisonment
for   3   years
and   upwards
but not more
than 7 years.
Cognizable Non­bailable Magistrate of
the first class
If   punishable
with
imprisonment
for   less   than
3   years   or
with   fine
only.
Non­cognizable Bailable Any
Magistrate
5.3 Thus, 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.  Therefore, the maximum
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punishment   which   can   be   imposed   would   be   three   years.
Therefore, the learned 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.  In view
of the above clear position of law, the decision in the case of
Rakesh Kumar Paul  (supra)  relied upon by learned counsel
appearing on behalf of respondent no.2 shall not be applicable
to   the   facts   of   the   case   on   hand.     The   language   of   the
provision in Part II of First Schedule is very clear and there is
no ambiguity whatsoever.
6. Under the circumstances the High Court has committed
a grave error in holding that the offence under Section 63 of
the Copyright Act is a non­cognizable offence.   Thereby the
High  Court  has  committed a  grave error  in quashing and
setting aside the criminal proceedings and the FIR. Therefore,
the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court
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quashing   and   setting   aside   the   criminal   proceedings/FIR
under Section 63 of the Copyright Act deserves to be quashed
and set aside.
7. In view of the above discussion and for the reason stated
above, 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.  
Present   appeal   is   allowed   to   the   aforesaid   extent.
However, in the facts and circumstances of the case there
shall be no order as to costs.
…………………………………J.
                (M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
 (B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
May 20, 2022.
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