India: Court’s Powers Under Section 114 Read With Order 47 Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code - Narrow And Confined- Delhi High Court

Last Updated: 28 June 2011
Article by Sonam Lhamu Bhutia

The Delhi High Court while dismissing the Indian Performing Right Society's (IPRS) review application [seeking to recall the order dated 19.03.2010, which disposed of its application for amendment of the suit I.A. No. 3509/ 2010] in the case Indian Performing Rights Society (Plaintiff) Vs Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. (Defendant) stated that it is trite law that while exercising its powers under Section 114 read with Order 47 Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code (CPC), the Court's jurisdiction is narrow and confined. Re-appreciation of new points of arguments or questions of law are excluded from the scrutiny of the Court in valid exercise of review jurisdiction.

The IPRS is a registered society under the Copyrights Act, with eminent authors, composers and publishers of Indian literary and musical works as members. Such members have assigned their public performing rights/broadcasting rights to the IPRS. In the suit I.A. No. 3509/ 2010, the IPRS had claimed that Entertainment Network had violated its copyright by unauthorized broadcast of its repertoire without authorization or license and despite knowledge that such rights belonged to the IPRS. It had been alleged that Entertainment Network had infringed copyright by broadcasting musical works from three FM Radio Stations- Bangalore, Jaipur and Hyderabad. It was further alleged that as a consequence of a policy change in the Central Government, the defendant was, during the pendency of the suit permitted to set-up and operate more FM radio stations as opposed to three. This application was dismissed by the Court which opined that the said application at best laid out a subsequent cause of action, which if allowed would enlarge the scope of the suit and further delay it.

The IPRS argued their case in the subsequent review application in the following manner:

  1. It was argued that the order ought to be reviewed since the only alternative that remained with them would be to resort to multifarious litigation for adjudication of the same disputes. They further claimed that it was an important aspect that had been overlooked by the court, as rejection of the request for amendment could potentially lead to conflicting judgments which could be avoided by adopting a liberal approach and allowing the amendments sought.
  2. It was submitted that assuming that the Court had committed a mistake or error, for the purpose of furthering the ends of justice, the Court could review the previous order as a corrective measure.
  3. It was lastly argued that addition of new radio stations amounted to extension of the existing cause of action and could be brought within the existing pleadings in the IPRS's suit, in order to avoid multifarious ness and conflicting judgments. It would therefore be in keeping with the needs of justice to review the previous order and to allow for the amendments.

Entertainment Network in response emphasized that the court would review its order if there is a mistake of fact or error apparent from the face of the record and not on the ground of overlooking a judgment or appreciation of a legal submission or principle. That, they contended should be covered under an appeal and the Court cannot constitute itself as a second chamber of appeal over its previous order.

It was further contended that the IPRS had taken no steps to apply to the Court for amendment despite the fact that they were aware of the 22 radio stations in 2001-2008. Thus, it was stated that the stand taken by the court was neither illegal nor unjust since the amendments sought to be included in the pleadings were subsequent to the filing of the suit. Also, allowing the review petition would mean that the Plaintiffs would acquire the right to extend the scope of the litigation each time the defendant's business expanded, which would mean that the concept of time-bound resolution of disputes would have no sanctity.

The Court noted that the IPRS's assertion that allowing the amendments could potentially eliminate multifarious litigation, although legitimate to an extent, however, what ought to be given importance is that the amendments as framed did not claim any additional relief by way of damages, on account of establishment of the new radio stations or the alleged infringement by the defendant on that score. The Court therefore opined that in light of these facts, the subsequent events afforded a fresh cause of action to the IPRS, and the review if allowed, would cause grave hardship to Entertainment Network as the present suit would be prolonged. The Court therefore found no reason to exercise its review jurisdiction and while doing so stated that its jurisdiction, while exercising its powers under Section114 read with Order 47 Rule 1, CPC, is narrow and confined.

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