On 10th December, 2021, the Delhi High Court issued a public notice containing the finalized rules of procedure for its Intellectual Property Rights Division, in exercise of its powers under the Delhi High Court Act, 1966, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and various intellectual property statutes.
The Delhi High Court had published the draft of the ‘Delhi High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, 2021’ on 8 October 2021, inviting comments/suggestions from the Bar and other stakeholders from the IP community. In view of several requests, the deadline to receive such comments was extended from 22 October 2021 to 10 November 2021. The Committee was pleased to receive wide ranging and detailed comments from practitioners, law firms as well as industry organizations. The Committee has considered the comments/suggestions received and has finalised the Rules.
The Rules will come into force on such date as notified by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in the Official Gazette.
Apart from laying down rules for procedure and practice, the Delhi High Court has included a provision which specifically deals with accessibility and reasonable accommodations.
Rule 36, titled “Accessibility and Reasonable Accommodations”, reads as follows:
i. All filings before the IPD shall be in a Portable Document Format with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) enabled with image resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi);
ii. The Court, suo motu or upon a request made by way of application, may issue such direction(s) that it deems necessary for providing reasonable accommodation to such person(s) with a specified disability as recognized under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 for the sole purpose of participating in the proceedings before the IPD.
Section 2(y) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, defines “reasonable accommodations” to mean “necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments, without imposing a disproportionate or undue burden in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise of rights equally with others.”
Further, Section 12 requires all Tribunals and Authorities to make their facilities, systems and documents accessible to persons with disabilities to facilitate their full and equal participation before Courts, Tribunals and Administrative Authorities. This can be done by ensuring that:
(a) all their public documents are in accessible formats;
(b) the filing departments, registry or any other office of records are supplied with necessary equipment to enable filing, storing and referring to the documents and evidence in accessible formats; and
(c) all necessary facilities and equipment are available to facilitate recording of testimonies, arguments or opinion given by persons with disabilities in their preferred language and means of communication.
It is well-established that all persons, including persons with disabilities have the right to equality, right to freedom of profession, and the right to life, which includes the right to live with human dignity under Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India. The Honourable Supreme Court has held that arbitrary denial of equal opportunity to persons with disabilities amounts to discrimination, and that affirmative action has to be taken to avoid such discrimination. The Honourable Supreme Court has also stated that facilities and services must be made available and accessible to persons with disabilities, and the non-availability of such facilities violates their right to equality and human dignity.
BananaIP is very happy to note that the Delhi High Court has given appropriate importance to attorneys with disabilities by incorporating provisions relating to accessibility and reasonable accommodations. It is our understanding that these are among the first rules applicable to an IP tribunal which expressly require accessibility and reasonable accommodations. It has been our observation that there is a lack of awareness of the issues faced by persons with disabilities in appearing before various tribunals and adjudicatory authorities. These Rules will go a long way towards improving awareness among IP practitioners, and facilitating full and equal participation in the IP process. The Indian IP office is yet to take such a step, and we honestly hope they will do the needful at the earliest possible.
Final comments/suggestions, if any, may be sent to [email protected] by 17 December 2021 (Friday). The notice states that earlier comments/suggestions have already been considered and the same may not be repeated.
A copy of the Rules may be accessed here:
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