NEW DELHI: It's a capital cost all right! Delhi High Court has asked Microsoft Corporation to shell out Rs 800,000 ($16,000) for choosing to
fight four copyright violation cases in the Indian capital even though they originated in other cities.
The order came after the court found that the alleged violations occurred in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
Not only did the court note that Microsoft had offices in these cities, but it also said the company was using "money power" to "harass" the defendants, who would have to travel to Delhi to fight the cases.
Another reason why Microsoft was found to have chosen the capital to fight the cases was that the Delhi High Court has the jurisdiction to order compensation of up to Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million).
In his order last week, Justice SN Dhingra said: "When the constitution of India provides equality before law, this equality has to be all pervasive and cannot be allowed to be diluted because of money power or lobbying power."
"One cannot be given liberty to choose a court of his liking because of his money power. There should be one definite court where the suit can be filed by everybody and one cannot hire the services of the court of his choice," the judge said.
The court was hearing Microsoft Corporation's plea against four different defendants, alleging violation of copyright on grounds of suspicion that they were using pirated software.
Microsoft said it was fighting the cases in Delhi as it has its office in the national capital.
But the court told Microsoft if it wanted the cases to be heard here, it would have to deposit a sum of Rs 200,000 per case - as a cost security.
The amount will be kept with the registrar general of the Delhi High Court till the final disposal of the four cases. It will be given to the defendants if the cases are found to be false.
The court also appointed a local commissioner to probe the allegations. All the expenses of the local commissioner, including his fees, which is Rs 25,000 ($5,000) per day, will have to be incurred by the multinational company.
Terming Microsoft's act as harassment for the opposite party, the court said, "Given the present interpretation of a section of the Copyright Act, a multinational company having its office within the same district where the case of action arose, defendant resided and where witnesses would be there and it is convenient for the court as well as for the parties to contest the suit, may refuse to file the suit in that state court and choose a distant stand court faraway from the office of the defendant.
"But on the strength of its money power it has the added advantage of choosing a court of its own liking which is so far away from the defendant that it becomes problematic and a harassment for the defendant to contest the suit itself."
The court will hear the matter further on Jan 18 next year.
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