In a recent judgment given on 25th September, 2012 Karnataka high court quashed Controller’s General order of banning a person with ‘Overseas Citizenship of India’ from practicing as a patent agent. The court also gave the Controller General, liberty to conduct a new inquiry and determine if he should be in Register of Patent Agent or not.
According to the documents submitted by the petitioner (Shri Narender Reddy Thappeta), he was born in India on 7th August, 1964 and he obtained a passport on 9th February, 2012 from passport office of India. This passport was valid till 7th May, 2005. Petitioner moved to US for further studies and after completion of studies came back to India and got himself registered as patent agent under the Patents Act, 1970 as per Annexure-J on 16th February 2001.
On 26th October, 2009 a complaint was filed in the office of respondent (Controller General) against the petitioner stating that his name was wrongly entered in the Register of Patent Agents.
· The respondent sought explanation from the petitioner for the same.
· On 2nd November, 2009 the petitioner submitted his reply in which he said that he was an Indian citizen at the time of registration as patent and he also brought to the notice that he is an overseas citizen of India after 2006 with effect from 30th March 2006 and he was entitled to reside in India with the status of non-resident India.
· In spite of this respondent chose to remove the petitioner’s name from the Register of Patent Agents on the grounds that he was not an Indian citizen on the date of registration of his name as patent agent.
· The petitioner filed a writ where he had sought for quashing Annexure-H dated 22.2.2012 passed by the respondent removing the petitioner’s name from the Register of Patent Agents.
· The main issue in this case was that whether the petitioner was an Indian citizen at the time of registration as a patent agent in the Register of Patent Agent i.e. on 16th February, 2001?
· Second issue in this case was should the petitioner be allowed to practice as a patent agent in India?
· Relief sorted by the petitioner if his complaint was found to be correct.
Court findings and final decision
· For the first issue court said that the petitioner was issued the certificate of registration as patent agent on 16th February, 2001 u/s 126 of the Patents Act, 1970. The documents provided by the petitioner in this writ proved that he was the resident of India as on 16th February, 2001. The documents consisted of an Indian passport where there was a visa stamp of arrival for Malaysia dated 19th September, 2003 and that proved that he was an Indian citizen till then.
· On the second issue court stated that Section 7A of The Citizenship Act, 1955 refers to over-seas citizens of India. Section 2(ee) of The Citizenship Act, 1970 defines over-seas citizens of India. The petitioner was issued registration certificate of over-seas citizen of India on 30th March 2006 as per Annexure-D. In a notification issued by Government of India, gazetted on 11th April, 2005 as per Annexure-K in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 7B of The Citizenship Act, 1955 declares that the overseas citizens of India are entitled to certain rights. One of the right conferred to overseas citizens of India under the said notification issued pursuant to the provisions of Section 7A and Section 7B of The Citizenship Act, was that such person would be treated ondownload itube app par with non-resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties. Therefore, the petitioner was justified in entitling to work as patent agent.
· In view of the court findings court opined that impunged order should be set aside and the matter should be reconsidered by the respondent after hearing the petitioner. Thus, no injustice will be caused to any of the parties.
· Hence, the impunged order Annexure-H dated 22nd February, 2012 stands quashed. The court also said that it is open for the respondent to reconsider the matter after notice to the petitioner and after hearing the petitioner.