Judges, cops express grave concern over counterfeiting

DIG-CID Pravin Pawar. DH photo

The counterfeiting market in India has grown to such an extent that it is overshadowing efforts by law enforcement to curb it, said judicial and police officials.

Ullas Kamath, Chairman of the Karnataka State Council, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) said that while the national GDP was growing at a rate of 5%, the GDP of counterfeit goods was growing at nearly 10%.

“The total loss to the government because off illicit markets in seven manufacturing sectors, including auto parts, mobile phones, packed goods and cigarettes, amounted to Rs 39,239 crore. The maximum revenue losses came in tobacco products (Rs 9,139 crore), mobile phones (Rs 6,705 crore) and alcoholic beverages (Rs 6,309 crore),” said Kamath, speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on strengthening actions against counterfeiting and smuggling, at the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru on Saturday.

“The aforementioned figures are from 2015, which are the latest available. Today, we estimate the loss to the government at Rs 60,000 crore,” he added.


Members of the Judiciary and the police stand following a seminar on fighting counterfeit goods and smuggling at National Law School in Bengaluru on August 31, 2019.
From left: FICCI Chairman Ullas Kamath, FICCI ex-Chairman P C Jha, ex-Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs Najib Shah, Former Chief Justice Manmohan Sarin, Justice Prathiba Singh, NLS Professor T Ramakrishna, Aditya Birla Fashion VP (Legal) Jyothi V K and unknown NLS researcher.

Compounding the problem is that counterfeiting has a nebulous definition, said Justice Prathiba Singh of the Delhi High Court, pointing out the example of a man who legitimately bought a Blu-ray film in the US but then proceeded to rent that film in India, could be accused of piracy, but could not necessarily be prosecuted because his activities fell into a grey area as he had legally purchased the item.

Former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Manmohan Sarin said, “Our society sees counterfeit goods as a cost-effective alternative to the real thing, but how many people realise that income from fake goods is funding illegal activities?” he asked.

When a panelist suggested policing would be more effective if those below the rank of sub-inspector are given authority to conduct seizures, Sarin disagreed, saying that such a move could increase corruption.

DIG-CID Pravin Pawar said that many junior police officers lack the skills to tackle counterfeit or smuggling. “The police’s priority is basic law and order. Even when anti-counterfeiting busts are effective, convictions are low because of slow justice in courts,” he added.

 

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