CB search-cum-selection committee unconstitutional: MHC

In a recent ruling, the Madras High Court struck down the constitution of a search-cum-selection committee for making recommendations for appointment of members of the Copyright Board as unconstitutional as being violative of the basic structure of the Constitution of India.  

The Court was hearing a writ petition that challenged Sections 11, 12, 31 and 31-D of the Copyright Act, 1957, Rule 3 of the Copyright Rules, 2013, and the Copyright Board Salaries and Allowances and the other terms and conditions of service of the Chairman and other Members Rules, 2014, as ultra vires Articles 14, 19 (1) (g), 50, 245 and 300-A of the Constitution of India.  

The Court said that even though Rule 3 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 speaks about appointment to the post of Chairman with the consultation of Chief Justice of India, the rules are silent qua the procedure for appointment to the members. “Thus, an attempt is being made to fill up the same with an executive order. Though we do not find anything wrong in the process, the Committee constituted with the overdose of Executive cannot be sustained in the eye of law”, a Division Bench of the Court said.  

The Court, however, ruled that, other than the constitution of a search-cum-selection committee for making recommendations for appointment of members of the Copyright Board, provisions as they stand now are not violative of the basic structure of the Constitution of India.  

The Court summarized as below: –  

(i) The provision contained in Section 11, 12, 31 and 31D of the Copyright Act, 1957 and Rule 3 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 are declared as constitutionally valid;  

(ii) The Copyright Board Salaries and Allowances and other terms and conditions of service of the Chairman and other members Rules, 2014 is declared as constitutionally valid;  

(iii) The Copyright Board shall consists of at least one Member having the qualification under Rule 3(2)(ii)(a), (b) and (d) of the Copyright Rules, 2013, out of the two. In case it consists of Chairman and two others, one of the two members will have to be one having qualification aforesaid;  

(iv) The Constitution of Search-cum-selection Committee for making recommendations for appointment of members of the Board is declared as unconstitutional.

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