By- Akshay Gurnani
The Court had previously extended Justice Singh’s tenure in December 2019. The extension of his tenure was due to lapse on September 21 this year.
During the hearing in the case concerning tribunal appointments today, the Supreme Court extended the tenure of Justice (retd.) Manmohan Singh as Chairman of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).
His tenure has been now extended by a period of three months. This is the second time the Supreme Court has extended Justice Manmohan Singh’s term as IPAB Chairman.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant had previously extended Justice Singh’s tenure in December 2019.
This, after the International Association for Protection of Intellectual Property, brought to the Court’s notice that no successor had been appointed after Justice Singh’s term came to an end in September last year. Justice Singh’s tenure as IPAB Chairman was initially set at three years when his appointment order was issued in July 2017.
However, in December 2017, a letter was issued intimating that his term would come to an end on September 21, 2019. On September 22, Justice Singh attained the age of 65 years. However, no Chairman was appointed in his place when the end of this shortened term came to an end.
The Association had contended that this vacancy led to the IPAB becoming defunct, thereby causing hardships for the thousands of litigants who have cases pending before the Tribunal.
The Court, in turn, opined that the post of IPAB Chairman cannot be allowed to be vacant. Whereas the Bench was informed that the appointment process of the new Chairman would be completed soon, it directed that Justice Singh continue as Chairman in the meantime.
The order passed last December states, “In the meantime, however, we consider it appropriate to direct that the last incumbent viz., Mr. Justice (Retd.) Manmohan Singh, be allowed to continue as Chairman of IPAB for one year after he attains the age of superannuation as there is no break in service.”
In March this year, the Centre also notified that Justice Singh would continue as the IPAB Chairman for a period of one year beyond attaining the age of 65 years i.e. up to September 21, 2020, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
This one year period would have come to an end on September 21 this year. However, the Court has now extended Justice (retd.) Singh’s tenure by an additional three months.