The Central Government has by way of an Ordinance issued last Sunday (4 April 2021) abolished Intellectual Property Appellate Board (‘IPAB’).

It may be noted that a Bill for this purpose was earlier introduced in the lower House of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) on 13 February 2021 but could not be taken for consideration and passing.

The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 (‘Ordinance’) seeks to amend for this purpose, the Cinematograph Act, 1952, the Copyright Act, 1957, the Customs Act, 1962, the Patents Act, 1970, the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994, the Trade Marks Act, 1999, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 and certain other Acts.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Bill introduced in February, the Tribunals proposed to be abolished (then) were of the kind which handle cases in which public at large is not a litigant or those which neither take away any significant workload from High Courts which otherwise would have adjudicated such cases nor provide speedy disposal.

Certain amendments have also been made in the Finance Act, 2017 in respect of qualifications, appointment, etc., of Chairperson and Members of Tribunal. It may also be noted by the Finance Act, 2017 seven tribunals were abolished or merged based on their functional similarity. According to certain changes effective retrospectively from 26 May 2017, the Chairperson and Members of a Tribunal shall hold office for a term of four years or till he attains the age of seventy years or sixty seven years, respectively.