12 Sep 2009

Legal Roundup of the week gone by ...

A hietus here, a snap there. Last week's newspaper so extensively covered rumblings from across the legal circles that it can well be marked as the dawn of legal journalism up to the fore. We have already reported the Delhi High Court ruling on Right to Information Act as covering the Chief Justice of India. However thats just the tip of the ice-burg in as much as the events have taken shape. Let us have a look.

> Google has reached an agreement with authors and publishers in the battle which would marks the dawn of new era in copyright laws. As google reports, "Three years ago, the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google Books. ... we're delighted to announce that we've settled that lawsuit and will be working closely with these industry partners to bring even more of the world's books online. Together we'll accomplish far more than any of us could have individually, to the enduring benefit of authors, publishers, researchers and readers alike." Since the decision of the court is yet to see the light of the day, we would refrain from commenting on that. However, one can have a sneak-peak in what google promises for future.

> Fulfilling the promise made out in Article 21A of the Constitution, the Parliament has enacted (and the President has assented) the 'Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act' on 26.08.2009 which gives the right of free and compulsory education to all the children between the age-group of 6 to 14. So what was envisaged as the Constitutional framers as a distance objective to be attained in 1950 has now become a reality, subject ofcourse to its proper implementation.

> And the Ministry of Human-Resource-Development is also looking forward to spreading legal awareness amongst the masses right from the threshold by proposing to making law a part of the school currilum. Novel thoughts indeed but require the co-ordination of other institutions in this area (such as the Bar Council of India), rather than supplanting them as many have seen this move towards. Have a look at the newspiece.

> If you want to get a organ in your body replaced, now you do not need to drive through the gray market to find out who is willing to donate (though some will say 'sell'). The Law Ministry is reported to have cleared amendments to the 'Transplantation of Human Organs Act of 1994' allowing lives to be saved by legalizing the donation of organs.

> The Supreme Court has recently declared that State Education Board, by conducting Board examinations, is not rendering any service and thus no action would lie against it for deficiency in service under the Consumer Protection Act. The case had been filed by a student claiming compensation from the Board for loss of one year as the Board had given the same roll number to two students and therefore the result of one of them could not be collated. The Consumber Forums allowed the compensation but Supreme Court reversed the decision holding that conduct of examination was a statutory function and no service was being rendered. So much for the law, but what of the students who put in their days and night and appeared in the examination and because of this negligent attitude of the Board lost one full year. Where will they go now? Have a look at this decision.

> In what would be the test of mettle of Government counsels before the Supreme Court in appeal thereon, the Allahabad High Court acquitted the main accused Moninder Singh Pandher in the Nithari case relating to the kidnapping and murder of several small children in Nithari (near Nodia in Uttar Pradesh) but confirmed the death penalty awarded to Surinder Koli, the other accused. In allowing the acquittal, the High Court noted, "We can fully understand that though the case superficially viewed bears an ugly look so as to prima facie shock the conscience of any court, yet suspicion however great it may be, cannot take the place of legal proof. A moral conviction, however, strong or genuine cannot amount to a legal conviction supportable in law." The Court after examining the evidence exhaustively, came to this conclusion. Have a look at the decision.

> In another decision, the Delhi High Court has allowed the claim of 'Bikanervala' that its trade-mark was being infringed by the shop 'Bikaner Sweets'. The Court noted that Bikanervala "is a leading and highly popular brand dealing in sweets and namkeens and other allied products in India alongwith its associate firms/ companies/ franchisees and a number of retail outlets spread far and wide" and the mark of Bikaner Sweets had "similar appearance in terms of colour scheme (red, yellow and white) and font, the only difference which is ostensible is the missing suffix ‘VALA’ ... therefore ... both the marks are unquestionably deceptively similar." Click here to read the decision.

> In a long fought legal battle, a Malaysian restaurent in the name of style of 'McCurry' has won against 'McDonald' which challenged the ruling of the Court of Appeal alleging violation of its intellectual property rights in its name. The Court of Appeal had held in the favour of McCurry holding that; "First, you have to look at the plaintiff’s mark or get-up or logo – call it what you will – as a whole and not merely one element in it. The plaintiff’s get-up consists of a distinctive golden arched “M” with the word “McDonalds” against a red background. The defendant’s signboard carries the words “Restoran McCurry” with the lettering in white and grey on a red background with a picture of a chicken giving a double thumbs up and with the wording “Malaysian Chicken Curry”. Thus, the defendant’s presentation of its business is in a style and get up which is distinctively different from that of the plaintiff. Second, as I have already said, the items of food available at the plaintiff’s outlets all carry the prefix “Mc”. However, as evident from the defendant’s menu card none of the food items served carries the prefix Mc. This is an important consideration. Third, it is beyond dispute that the type of food available at the plaintiff’s outlets is very different from that served at the defendant’s sole outlet." The Federal Court dismissed the application to appeal against this decision, reports the press.

And though this may not qualify as a legal news, yet in as much as it has implications many fold even for the legal world, the recently unfolded 'Trade Development Report 2009' released by UNCTAD recommends replacement of 'United States Dollar' based reserve system to a more stable currency and has alternatively proposed IMF based 'Special Drawing Rights' (SDRs) as the measure for exchange-rate determination. Great idea, but requires tremendous policial will to implement. Have a look at the report.

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