The Delhi High Court, recently, resolved the issue of what shall be the appropriate quorum of a bench for hearing writ petitions filed against orders passed by the erstwhile Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), in rectification petitions, prior to its abolition. The court held that a single judge would have undisputed jurisdiction to decide such writ petitions and that there will not be any conflict even if the same judge also hears original rectification petitions in other cases.
Objections were raised to the listing of writ petitions against orders of the IPAB before a single judge. These objections were premised on the ground that since, pursuant to the abolition of the IPAB, single judges are hearing original rectification petitions, it would be incongruous if writ petitions assailing orders passed by the IPAB in rectification petitions were also heard by single judges, and that propriety commands that they be decided by a bench of two judges.
The court rejected these contentions and observed that a single judge would be the appropriate court for deciding such matters as it was beyond question that the present writ petitions were writs of certiorari (in which a higher court reviews a case tried in a lower court/quasi-judicial authority) which are necessarily decided by a single judge both under the Delhi High Court’s IP Divion Rules as well as under the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules. The court noted that the single judges of the Delhi High Court are unquestionably judicially superior to the IPAB, and merely because such judges are now vested with the power of deciding original rectification petitions pursuant to the abolition of the IPAB, it would not make them hierarchically or judicially equivalent to the IPAB. The court ruled that no incongruity could possibly be said to arise if the power to hear both original rectification petitions and writs impugning orders passed by the IPAB in rectifications is exercised by a single judge since the jurisdiction exercised in each situation is completely distinct. While, in the former case, a single judge exercises original jurisdiction vested by a statute, in the latter scenario, the single judge acts as a court having supervisory jurisdiction and that of judicial review under the Constitution of India. For these reasons, the court rejected the objections raised and cleared the path for adjudication of these writs on merits.
Ayur United Care LLP v. Union of India & Anr. [2023:DHC:7556]