New Delhi: In order to bring manufacturers of counterfeit products to book, industry chamber, Assocham has advocated the setting up of Economic Offence Courts (EOC’s) in over 550 districts across the country. These courts will pronounce punishment to offenders, indulging in sale of counterfeit products which are causing the Indian industry losses to the tune of Rs30,000 crores with government losing tax accruals of over Rs10,000 crore.
Assocham has called for separate classification on economic offences in the Criminal Procedure Code along with the introduction of a new chapter that can handle economic offences including the ones dealing with counterfeit, fake, spurious and contraband products since legal provisions presently do not provide sufficient deterrent that can check sale of fake products.
Suggested courts should have specially trained judges and procedure of summary trials which must be adopted to deal with cases of fake products in an efficient and timely manner. In the summary trials, the onus should be on the offender to satisfy the court that a prima facie defence is available to him, failing which he should be sentenced forthwith.
The Chamber has also demanded that Indian Panel Code should be amended so that it becomes mandatory for the police to submit the report of the raids conducted within a month’s time. A system of monitoring and coordination between the economic offence detection and prosecution machinery and the customs personnel should be put into place for ensuring effective actions.
Also, the authorization for conducting a raid needs to be given at the level of the police inspectors rather than extremely busy officers of DSP and higher ranks, suggested the chamber.
Currently the law provides for search of the premises of the infringer and seizure of the counterfeit / spurious goods. This measure alone is insufficient since it provides scope to the infringer to repeat the procedure of counterfeiting.
The law should suitably provide for seizure of not only movable goods (spurious) but should also provide for seizure and auction of immovable property (plant and machinery) involved in the manufacture of such spurious goods.
A system of monitoring and coordination between the economic offence detection and prosecution machinery and the customs personnel should be put into place for ensuring effective actions.
Our enforcement and criminal jurisprudence system designed to handle offences of this nature are grossly insufficient and out dated and the Chamber has therefore stressed for removal of Section 115 of Trade Mark Act, 1958 Act. This proviso was not there in the original act. It now requires a police officer not below the rank of DSP to conduct a raid only after of telling the opinion of the Registrar of Trade Mark. This proviso has resulted in loss of confidentiality and corrupt practices favouring the offenders without providing and iota of utility in any manner what so ever for controlling the problem.
A Special Cell to promote the appropriate policy and approach to be followed by government and industry would serve as a more direct way of dealing with enforcement matters.