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The Film Federation of India Vs. Union of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.A. No. 30 of 1985
Judge
Reported inAIR1986Mad43
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1984 - Sections 4, 5, 7 and 9; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 1, Rule 10
AppellantThe Film Federation of India
RespondentUnion of India
Appellant AdvocateP. Chidambaram, Adv. for ;Vijay Narayan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateP. Narasimhan, Central Govt. Standing Counsel, ;Govt. Pleader and ;V.P. Raman, Adv.
Cases ReferredSouth Central Railway Secunderabad v. A.V.R. Siddhanti
Excerpt:
.....assistance to the court when determining the question of validity. it is clearly not la necessary party. such a party in a case like the instant one is only the union of india. in para 6 the supreme court pointed out that it is not only the shareholders who have supplied capital who are interested in the enterprise which is being run by a company but the workers who supply labour are also equally, if not more, interested because what is produced by the enterprise is the result of labour as well as capital. 439. the reason for that decision is also apparent from the observations made in para 8 where the supreme court pointed out -if the interest of the workers has to betaken into account, the workers must have a say because they know best where their interest lies and they must have an..........that any number of persons who are beneficiaries of the statute would come forward wanting to be joined as parties and this will necessarily involve a cumbersome procedure and the court will then be bound to hear each of the individual beneficiaries which would involve waste of time. the learned counsel also pointed out that the sole object of the appellant forgetting impleaded is to have the stay vacated. this position is not in dispute. according to the learned counsel, it is for the appropriate government to decide whether and how far it will agitate the contest involving the validity of an enactment.11. there is no doubt that the amending act was sought to be enacted by way of an anti-piracy measure to protect the interests of the several persons connected with the production and.....
Judgment:

Chandurkar, C.J.

1. This is an appeal against the order of S. Natarajan J. by which the appellant's petition for being joined as a party respondent in W. P. 9745 of 1984 has been rejected by the learned Judge. The original petitioner, the 3rd respondent, has filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1084. The petitioner carries on the business of running a video library where it hires out to its members video cassettes on a fixed hire to enable the hirers to view these cassettes in the privacy of their homes through a video cassette player attached to a television unit.

2. The respondents in the petition are the Union of India and the Commissioner of Police. It appears that the Commissioner of Police has been joined as a party because the offences provided for in the Copyright Act have been made non-bailable and punishable with harsh and disproportionate penalties without the owner of the copyright complaining about any infringement.

3. The learned Judge heard the petition and has granted a stay of the provisions of Ss. 4(2) 5, 7 and 9 of the Amending Act.

4. The appellant filed two petitions before the learned Judge, one for being impleaded as a party respondent to the petition and the other for vacating the stay order. The appellant is a Company known as Film Federation of India and claims to be an apex federating body of several associations from different States, such as Producers Councils, Distributors Councils etc. The appellant claims to be directly and intimately connected with the film industry whose members earn their livelihood through the film industry. The appellant claims that the amendment, which is an anti-piracy measure, is enacted for the benefit of the cinema industry. The appellant has stated that it would be the most appropriate body to espouse the cause of the film industry since the film industry is interested in upholding the validity of the Act, and, therefore, the appellant is a necessary and proper party.

5. In a common affidavit filed, the appellant has asked for vacating of the stay order because the continuance of the stay order would cause grave prejudice to the film industry and would frustrate the objects for which the Parliament has enacted the Amending Act.

6. The prayer for being joined as a party and for vacating the stay order was strenuously opposed on behalf of the original petitioner. The learned Judge has rejected both the petitions holding that though the amendment has been made with a view to safeguard the revenues of the public exchequer as well as the interests of the producers, it is only the concerned Government which is entitled to defend a legislation made by the Union Parliament or State Legislature, when it is attacked on the ground of unconstitutionality. The learned Judge held that private parties, however, much interested they may be in the outcome of the proceedings, cannot seek parity of status or treatment with the Government in such matters. The learned Judge took the view that the appellant could at best be an intervener or an observer and render assistance to the Court when determining the question of validity. Taking any other view, according to the learned Judge, would mean that in every petition filed to challenge the validity of a Central or State Act, the beneficiaries under the Act would seek impleadment in the proceedings and take the litigation to a personal level between it or themselves, on the one hand, and the petitioners, on the other.

7. Though the petition for impleading was rejected, the learned Judge directed that the appellant could be heard in the proceedings, but without a right to get itself impleaded as a party-respondent and be given an opportunity to make its representations on the merits of the case. Having made the above observations, the learned Judge dismissed the petition for vacating the stay order on the ground that the appellant will not have any status to file such a petition.

8. Challenging the view taken by the learned Judge, it is vehemently contended by Mr. Chidambaram that the appellant is vitally interested in sustaining the validity of the Amending Act because the members of the appellant-company are the beneficiaries for whose benefit the amendment in the Copyright Act was made. The learned counsel also contended that the Amending Act has also been challenged in the Supreme Court and the appellant-company has already been allowed to be impleaded at its instance in the writ petition pending in the Supreme Court by order dt. 29-11-1984, made during the vacation. According to the learned counsel, since the Supreme Court has allowed the appellant company to be joined as a party to a petition pending in the Supreme Court, in which the same Amending Act has been challenged, there is no reason why the appellant-company should be given a different treatment in this Court when the subject matter of the writ petition is the same as in the Supreme Court.

9. By way of a precedent, it is pointed out that when a similar legislation, namely, the Tamil Nadu Exhibition of Films on Television screen through Video Cassette Recorders (Regulation) Act, 1984 (hereinafter referred to as 'Tamil Nadu Act') was challenged in this Court, one of us (Sathiadev, J.) had allowed the appellant-company to be added as a party respondent. It may be noted that the Division Bench of this Court struck down certain provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act and in the appeal pending in the Supreme Court the judgment of this Court has been stayed. In addition to this, it is also urged that the concept of locus standi is now given a very wide interpretation, and if the appellant is interested in sustaining a legislation, which is made for their benefit, the appellant should be joined as a party-respondent.

10. Mr. Raman has vehemently opposed the petition for the appellant being impleaded as a party-respondent. According to him, the appellant is neither a proper nor a necessary party and has no right to be made a party. Mr. Raman has vehemently contended that it is for the State or the Union of India, as the case may be, to satisfy the Court that the impugned statute is a valid statute, and if a private litigant or a citizen is allowed to be joined as a party in a case where a legislative enactment is challenged, then it is possible that any number of persons who are beneficiaries of the statute would come forward wanting to be joined as parties and this will necessarily involve a cumbersome procedure and the Court will then be bound to hear each of the individual beneficiaries which would involve waste of time. The learned counsel also pointed out that the sole object of the appellant forgetting impleaded is to have the stay vacated. This position is not in dispute. According to the learned counsel, it is for the appropriate Government to decide whether and how far it will agitate the contest involving the validity of an enactment.

11. There is no doubt that the Amending Act was sought to be enacted by Way of an anti-piracy measure to protect the interests of the several persons connected with the production and distribution of cinematograph films. It is also true that the concept of locus standi is a growing concept but the locus standi as a growing concept has been interpreted with a view to enable an easy approach to a Court of justice for relief. In our view, a matter involving the constitutional validity of a statute must be considered on a different footing than cases where either rights of private parties are involved or some members of the public are seeking to agitate the enforcement of certain rights on behalf of a section of the public who are entitled to the benefit of those rights. A legislation, whether it is a State Legislation or Central Legislation, is always intended for the benefit of the citizens generally or of a section of the public. But so far as the constitutional validity is concerned, primarily it is the State Government or the Union Government as the case may be, which is not only interested but is duty bound to have the validity of the legislation sustained, when its constitutional validity is challenged. If a principle is accepted that every person for whose benefit a legislation is made is entitled to be heard with regard to the constitutional validity it would be difficult to distinguish between a beneficiary or set of beneficiaries and another beneficiary or set of beneficiaries, the interests of the public may be represented by More than one Association and if one Association is allowed on a matter of principle to be joined as a respondent enabling it to canvass the constitutional validity of the impugned enactment, then it would be difficult to prevent any other Association or even an individual not to allow itself or himself to be joined as parties, such a course, if adopted is beset with innumerable difficulties in so far as such matters are concerned. We are concerned here more with a matter of principle than the limited question as to whether the appellant is entitled to be joined as a party respondent. Admittedly, the ground on which the appellant wants to be joined as a party respondent is that it is vitally interested in seeking that the validity of the Amending Act be sustained because the members of the appellant company are beneficiaries of the Amending Act. It is only if the principle is accepted that a beneficiary of a statute is entitled to be heard in addition to the State or Union Government, as the case may be, in support of a statutory enactment that the appellant can be allowed to be joined as a party. We are afraid if this principle is accepted in the case of a statutory enactment, there will be numberless persons or Associations who may claim to be joined as parties as they are beneficiaries of the impugned enactment, and once they are joined as parties, the Court cannot decline to hear them because they will have right to be heard. Such a course, in our view, would be wholly improper because at the very threshold such persons or associations are not at all either proper or necessary parties to a petition when the statute is challenged. The appellant cannot be considered either as party or a necessary party. It is clearly not la necessary party.

Relief is claimed only against Union of India and no other party. This is not a matter involving any individual rights and it is enough that the Union of India is a respondent when the question of validity of the Central enactment is to be adjudicated upon. It is enough if the Union of India is on record even if a declaration of invalidity is to be granted. The presence of any additional party is wholly unnecessary.

12. The appellant cannot also be considered as a proper party because for the adjudication of the validity of a State or Central enactment the presence of any other party is not at all necessary. The question as to whether a person is a proper party arises only when the rights canvassed by the plaintiff or the petitioner are to be adjudicated, and it is not possible to properly adjudicate those rights in the absence of some other party. In that sense, such a question cannot arise where the only question involved is With regard to the constitutional validity with which the State Government or the Union of India is alone interested.

13. The mere fact that the appellant was allowed to join as a respondent in the Supreme Court will not enable the appellant to be joined as a party respondent to the petition. The proceedings under Art 226 of the Constitution are governed by the rules in Appendix IV of the Appellate Side Rules. There is no specific rule providing for any particular respondent to be joined and, therefore, the normal rule must be that a party against whom a relief is asked must be joined as a respondent. Such a party in a case like the instant one is only the Union of India. Rule 6 then reads as follows -

'At the hearing of the petition, any person who desires to be heard in opposition to the petition and appears to the Court to be a proper person to be heard, shall be heard, notwithstanding that he has not been served with notice, and subject to such conditions as to costs as the Court may deem fit to impose.'

This rule specifically refers to a person who desires to be heard in opposition to the petition being heard but that is only if it appears to the Court to be a proper person to be heard. The learned Judge has not declined to hear the appellant. What he has declined to do is to make the appellant a party respondent ' in the petition. Such a course cannot be said to be contrary to the requirements of R. 6.

14. The circumstance that in a similar petition challenging the Tamil Nadu Act the appellant was joined as a party respondent by itself will not conclude the matter because it does not appear that the question as to whether the appellant was entitled to be joined was not seriously debated at that stage.

15. It is true that in National Textiles Workers Union v. P. R. Ramakrishnan, : (1983)ILLJ45SC , the Supreme Court has held that the workers of a company are entitled to appear at the hearing of the winding up petition whether to support or to oppose it so long no winding up order is made by the Court and that the workers have a locus to appear and be heard in the winding up petition both before the winding up petition is admitted and an order of advertisement is made as also after the admission and advertisement of the winding up petition until an order is made for winding up the company. The Supreme Court also held that if a winding up order is made and the workers are aggrieved by it they would also be entitled to prefer an appeal and contend in the appeal that no winding up order should have been made by the Company.

16. It has to be noted that the above decision has to be read in the light of the view, which the Supreme Court took in relation to the workers vis--vis the company. In Para 6 the Supreme Court pointed out that it is not only the shareholders who have supplied capital who are interested in the enterprise which is being run by a company but the workers who supply labour are also equally, if not more, interested because what is produced by the enterprise is the result of labour as well as capital. The workers were held to have a special place in a socialistic pattern of society as producers of wealth as much capital. The Supreme Court also has pointed out the distinction between a right to make an application for winding up and a right to oppose a winding up petition. In para 7 it was pointed out that merely because the right to apply for winding up a company is not expressly given to the workers, it did not mean that they cannot appear to support or oppose a winding up petition which is properly filed by one or the other persons specified in S. 439. The reason for that decision is also apparent from the observations made in para 8 where the Supreme Court pointed out -

'.........If the interest of the workers has to betaken into account, the workers must have a say because they know best where their interest lies and they must have an opportunity of placing before the Court relevant material bearing upon their interest.'

The ratio of the said decision, in our view, cannot be of any assistance in the present case. We are dealing with a legislative enactment, which is the outcome of implementation of a policy, which is adopted by the Government. A legislative enactment is intended to give effect to some policy and implement it. Private litigants or persons who happen to be beneficiaries of such a policy enacted in the form of legislation can really have no say in a matter, which is exclusively within the domain of the Government activity. It is primarily and wholly for the Government to support its own legislation, though in case the Court wants some assistance, the Court can permit a party to intervene, but that is for the limited purpose of assistance to the Court for deciding the dispute before it. An anomalous situation may arise if a beneficiary is allowed to be joined as a party-respondent in a case where if the petition is allowed, the State may be advised not to pursue the matter further, while the party respondent by virtue of being a respondent would have a right of appeal. Thus, an anomalous situation would be created where though the State does not desire to challenge the decision of the High Court, a party respondent would insist upon canvassing the validity of an enactment.

17. Some reference was made to the decision of the Supreme Court in P. S. R. Sadhanantham v. Arunachalam, : [1980]2SCR873 in which the Supreme Court was dealing with the scope of Art. 136 which, according to the Supreme Court is an unique jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and it is open to the Supreme Court to grant special leave and entertain appeals against judgments of acquittal by the High Court at the instance of private parties. That was a case in which against an acquittal of the accused in a case of murder, a brother of the murdered deceased who was neither a complainant nor a first informant Asked for leave under Art. 136 of the Constitution and leave were granted. The power of the Supreme Court under Art 136 is as the Supreme Court quoted, a unique jurisdiction and the original jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the High Court cannot be compared with that jurisdiction.

18. It may, however, be stated that the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Union of India has no objection to the appellant being joined as a respondent. That concession, however, is not relevant for deciding a question, which has been so exhaustively and vehemently argued on both sides. Having given our anxious consideration to the arguments advanced before us, notwithstanding the modern trend of widening the concept of locus and with a view to make accessibility to Courts of justice easy, we are satisfied that in the instant case wherein what is sought to be done is not to put the law in motion, but to make an attempt to defend a legislation; the appellant cannot be said to be neither a proper nor necessary party nor can he be allowed to be joined as a party respondent. Consequently, this appeal must fail and is dismissed.

19. When this order was ready for being delivered, the learned counsel for the appellant has brought to our notice a decision of Ismail J. (as he then was) and Sethuraman J. dismissing W.P. 300 of 1977 (reported in 1979 Lab IC 1077) (Sukumaran v. State of Tamil Nadu), and connected petitions, which challenged the validity of the notification issued under Ss. 3(l)(a) and 5(2) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 published in the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette Extraordinary dated 3 1 st Dec. 1976 and holding that (para 6) -

'The petitioners have not impleaded the respective employees or the representatives of the employees as parties to the writ petitions.'

The Division Bench took the view that in the event of the petitioners succeeding in the writ petition, the persons who would be really affected would be the employees and they have not been impleaded as parties, and in their absence, no relief can be given to the petitioners therein. We are unable to follow the view taken by the Division Bench firstly because the judgment does not disclose the reasons, which weighed with the Division Bench when they took the view that all the employees who will be affected by the quashing of the notification under the Minimum Wages Act were necessary parties to the petition. Secondly, the view taken by the Division Bench seems to run counter to the decision of the Supreme Court in the General Manager, South Central Railway, Secunderabad v. A. V. R. Siddhanti, : (1974)ILLJ312SC .

20. We have read the order of the learned Judges of the Division Bench, and we are of the view that the effect of the observations made by the Division Bench would be devastating. The notification under the Minimum Wages Act fixed the minimum rates of wages for employees in hotels and restaurants with reference to different categories of employees working therein. It appears from the order that the petitioners in the petition before the Division Bench were carrying on business in hotels and restaurants in areas within the limits of the Municipalities of Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchi. If the order of the Division Bench is to be complied with then if a petition is filed in a representative capacity by hotel owners every employee in hotels and restaurants in all the cities will have to be made parties, which is next to impossible. The mere fact that the persons for whose benefit the notification fixing minimum wages was issued would be adversely affected will not make such employees necessary or proper parties to the petition, because no relief is asked against them. As a matter of fact, when a petitioner comes to Court challenging a particular Government order, which is for the benefit of several people, the relief to be granted depends only upon thevalidity of the impugned action of the Government. If the impugned action of the Government is held to be constitutionally invalid, the mere fact that persons for whose benefit the action was taken would be deprived of that benefit, does not make it necessary for all those affected persons to be made parties. In the decision of the Supreme Court in the General Manager, South Central Railway Secunderabad v. A.V.R. Siddhanti, : (1974)ILLJ312SC cited supra, the Supreme Court has clearly laid down that where policy decisions are challenged, the Government servants, who will be affected, if the challenge to the policy decision is upheld, are not necessary parties at all. The Supreme Court in that decision was concerned with certain administrative rules of general application, regulating observation in permanent departments, fixation of seniority pay etc. of the employees of the erstwhile grain shop departments. One of the objections raised before the Supreme Court was that the petitioners did not implead about 120 employees who were likely to be affected by the decision in the case, and since those employees were necessary parties, their non-joinder is fatal to the petition. Repelling this objection, the Supreme Court observed in para 20 of the j judgment as follows -

'As regards the second objection, it is to be noted that the decisions of the Railway Board impugned in the writ petition contain administrative rules of general application, regulating absorption in permanent departments, fixation of seniority, pay etc., of the employees of the erstwhile grain shop departments. The respondents-petitioners are impeaching the validity of those policy decisions on the ground of their being violative of Arts 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The proceedings are analogous to those in which the constitutionality of a statutory rule regulating seniority of Government servant is assailed. In such proceedings the necessary parties to be impleaded, are those against whom the relief is sought, and in whose absence no effective decision can be rendered by the Court. In the present case, the relief is claim only against the Railway, which has been impleaded through its representative. No list or order fixing seniority of the petitioners vis--vis particular individuals pursuant to the impugned decisions is being challenged. The employees who were likely to be affected as a result of the re-adjustment of the petitioner's seniority in accordance with the Board's decision of Oct. 16, 1952 were at the most, proper parties and not necessary parties, and their non-joinder could not be fatal to the writ petition.'

These observations, in our view, would indicate that the view taken by the Division Bench in W.P.No. 300 of 1977 (reported in 1979 Lab IC 1077) is contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court.

21. The above mentioned decision of the Supreme Court lends support to the conclusion which we have already reached that the appellant is not a necessary party to the petition at all. The observations of the Supreme Court, which indicate that administrative rules regarding seniority were analogous to statutory rules, and the proceedings in the writ petition challenging the administrative order were analogous to those in which the constitutionality of a statutory rule is challenged, apply with equal force to the matter before us. What is challenged before us is the statute itself and in such a case in our view, as already indicated, the only necessary and proper party is the Union of India. Accordingly as already indicated, the appeal fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.

22. Appeal dismissed.


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