+ CS(COMM) 3/2018

RAJ REWAL ..... Petitioner
Through: Mr. Chander M. Lall, Sr. Adv. with Mr. Vedanta Varma, Mr. Rupin Behl, Ms. Nancy Roy & Mr. Akhil Kumar Gola, Advs.

UNION OF INDIA & ORS ..... Respondent Through: None.



ORDER % 05.01.2018

CM No.91/2018 (for exemption)

1. Allowed, subject to just exceptions.

2. The application is disposed of.

CS (COMM) 3/2018, IA No.90/2018 (under Order XXXIX Rules 1&2 CPC) and IA No.92/2018 (under Section 80(2) read with Section 151 CPC)

3. The plaintiff has instituted this suit for following reliefs:

“A. The Defendants be directed by a decree of mandatory injunction to compensate the Plaintiff by recreating the work of architecture in the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion at the same location or any other location in Delhi which is equally prominent as the earlier location of the said buildings under direct supervision of the Plaintiff.

B. Costs of the suit be awarded to the Plaintiff.”

4. The senior counsel for the plaintiff has at the outset stated that the present is a suit under Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957 and the plaintiff as the architect of the two buildings, known as Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion, both at Pragati Maidan, is the author of the buildings and has a right under Section 57 of the Act to restrain or claim damages in respect of any distortion, mutilation, modification or other act in relation to the said work, if distortion, mutilation, modification or other act would be prejudicial to his honour or reputation.

5. The present suit is preceded by a writ petition filed by the plaintiff for a writ of mandamus directing the Union of India (UOI) to declare the aforesaid two buildings as works of national importance in terms of the dicta of the Supreme Court in Rajeev Mankotia Vs. Secretary to the President of India (1997) 10 SCC 441. It is further informed that that Committee formed by the UOI in accordance with the aforesaid dicta refused to recognize the said buildings as heritage buildings, notwithstanding the recommendation to the said effect made by several bodies and eminent persons including Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and its own Sub-Committee. 6. As far as the recommendations of the Sub-Committee are concerned, the same would be merely a step/stage in the decision making process and would be of no avail.

7. I have at the outset enquired from the senior counsel for the plaintiff as to how the plaintiff, who is an architect and author of the architectural drawings on the basis of which buildings aforesaid were constructed, can claim to be the author of the buildings.

8. The senior counsel for the plaintiff draws attention to Section 2(b) of the Act defining „Work of Architecture‟ and to Section 2(c)(ii) defining „Artistic Work‟ and has contended that an architect would also be the author of the building constructed in accordance with his architectural drawings.

9. Attention of the senior counsel for the plaintiff has been invited to Section 2(d)(iii) defining „Author‟ in relation to an artistic work other than a photograph and it has been enquired whether an architect who has merely prepared the drawings on the board, can claim to be the author of the building constructed in accordance therewith as also with the input of structural engineer and a large number of other persons/workers. It has further been enquired from the senior counsel for the plaintiff whether not the best architectural drawing are known to lead to not so best result/construction and vice versa and how can the architect who is merely the author of the architectural drawings can claim authorship of a building constructed over the land. The senior counsel is reminded of the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay, the popular story about which goes that the Foreign Architect thereof, after preparing the drawings went home, only to on return find the building, purportedly in accordance with his drawings, having been constructed wrong way around with what should have been sea facing and frontage being on the non sea facing side and vice versa.

10. It has further been enquired, as to how the architect can appropriate to himself a right over the land on which a building with his architectural drawings is constructed and have a right of prior consent for all future utilization of the said land.

11. It has further been asked from the senior counsel for the plaintiff, whether Section 57 of the Act would apply to each and every building constructed with architectural drawing and to all architects.

12. The senior counsel for the plaintiff is ambivalent in his reply.

13. It prima facie appears that Section 57 of the Act applies only to the buildings which have been declared to be heritage buildings or of national importance. The plaintiff, though attempted to have the buildings aforesaid so declared, has not succeeded.

14. I am of the prima facie view that to interpret Section 57 as sought, would be an impediment to modernization and will interfere with rights of owner of land/building constructed thereon to land/property. The land use, FAR, amenities, keep changing with times and land, of which no more is being produced, cannot be allowed to be so locked up.

15. Though the senior counsel for the plaintiff has referred to dicta of Coordinate Bench in Amar Nath Sehgal Vs. Union of India 117 (2005) DLT 717 which is said to have attained finality but the same was not concerned with aforesaid issue.

16. Being of the view that before this suit is admitted, the said threshold should be crossed, I have requested the presence of the learned Additional Solicitor General (ASG) also and he has been apprised of the queries made from the senior counsel for the plaintiff for admission.

17. It is deemed appropriate that both, if so desire, may file synopsis of their respective submissions and exchange the same before the next date of hearing.

18. List on 15th January, 2018.


JANUARY 05, 2018