In the given case of GE Power India Limited vs. NHPC Limited, the petition was filed claiming the violation of Copyright. However, the Delhi High Court decided that Civil Court lacks territorial limits to entertain these matters concerning insolvency proceedings. In this blog, we will pen down the facts, finding, and how the Judge has dismissed the petition considering section 230,231 & Section 60(5) of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.”
Background of the Case- GE Power India Limited vs. NHPC Limited
In the case of GE Power India Limited vs. NHPC Limited, The Plaintiff company GE Power Limited (Before name change called Alstom India Ltd.) entered into a contract with Lanco Infratech Limited (LIL) for designing, producing, examining, remitting, and enlisting the facilities for Hydro Electric Project for Teesta VI. Afterward, the Teesta VI project transferred to Lanco Teesta Hydropower Limited (LTHPL). Initially, the agreement was between Alstom and Lanco Infratech Limited regarding the supply of engineering drawings protected under copyrights.
After the liquidation of Lanco Infratech Limited, the project was acquired by NHPC limited (“Defendant”). NHPC (Defendant Company) sent an intimation to offer Individual Vendor Tender of Teesta VI Project to LTHPL. Further, the bid of the LTHPL was rejected as the price quoted by the LTHPL was higher than the price quoted on tender control documents. Consequently, Defendant issued an open tender for Teesta VI in that respect, the company disclosed the Copyright and classified drawings to the third parties. Therefore, the present case was filed by the plaintiff company claiming the violation of Copyright.
Finding of the case- GE Power India Limited vs. NHPC Limited
The experienced commission for Plaintiff declared that Plaintiff has exclusive copyrights over the drawings. Furthermore, the graphics being confidential, the exclusive rights over the pictures were illicitly possessed by Defendant, and the same was published internationally without any permission. Further, it is relevant to note that Defendant had understood the secrecy and Plaintiff’s absolute right over the drawings.
Talking about the jurisdiction, the learned commission submitted that Defendant had distributed the proposal drawings on Central Public procuring, an active acquisition website in India, by uploading drawings on the said portal. Therefore, Defendant had violated the exclusive right of Plaintiff.
On the contrary, the learned commission for Defendant claimed that the present Court lacks territorial limit to consider the present case as registered office of Plaintiff and Defendant are at different places, i.e., Plaintiff registered office at Mumbai and Defendant registered office at Faridabad. Further, it was claimed that mere publishing the tender on the Central Public Procurement Portal website would not trouble the territorial jurisdiction of this Court. The learned commission further stated that the relevant occurrence arises from the insolvency resolution process, and the NCLT can take the decision. Consequently, the jurisdiction of the civil Court is barred.
As per Section 60(5) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, any issue that occurred concerning the insolvency resolution or further proceedings of the corporate debtor or corporate person under IBC will not be entertained under the administration of Civil Court. Further, it is pertinent to note that the provisions of IBC override the provision of other Acts.
During the proceeding, the learned commission claimed that Plaintiff has failed to explain how the Copyright owned by Alstom Projects India Ltd. vested in Plaintiff. Without disclosure, Plaintiff cannot claim any copyright in the drawings on the plea that it is a successor in the interest of Alstom.
Furthermore, the learned commission alleged that the case filed by Plaintiff in respect of the Copyright is dubious, and they do not possess the Copyright. The provision of the Copyright Act provides against the perseverance of any competitive rights in industrial drawings in the form of Copyright.
Judgment by the Court in case of GE Power India Limited vs. NHPC Limited
Considering the Defendant’s plea of the Delhi High Court lacking territorial limit to seek the case based on neither both the parties residing or working for profit in Delhi and the Defendant’s website not particularly targeting Delhi consumers, the Delhi High Court observed the fact that the copies of the Plaintiff’s claimed work was published on the portal and distributed to the entire public inclusive of Delhi public, the situation arose at Delhi. The Delhi High Court, while setting aside the Defendant’s allegation, observed that the cause of action as alleged by Plaintiff was not the publishing of the bid by Defendant in Delhi but that while publishing the bid, the Plaintiff’s copyright in the drawings had been infringed at Delhi by placing the same in the electronic medium, making copies of the same and uploading the same on the website to be viewed all over India including Delhi and thus, the act of the Defendant in publishing and transmitting the work of the Plaintiff to the public inclusive of Delhi Public amounts to the arising in Delhi.
The High Court considers the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the various relatable case and the facts of the present case, is of the opinion that, if the Copyright appears in relation to insolvency proceedings, NCLT has the proper authority to decide on the respective matter. Conclusively, the learned Judge dismissed the petition by taking shelter under Section 230, 231 & 60(5) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
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Read our article:Ownership and Authorship of Copyright in India