Centre for Internet & Society

In this post, Nehaa Chaudhari and Varun Baliga delve into the question of what the mandate of the Sectoral Innovation Councils is, what its activities are, and what vision for IPR development in India has it put forth. An RTI Application has been filed by CIS to attain information on these issues.

Thanks to Amulya.P for her support on this.

The National Innovation Council [“NIC”] was constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office “to create a roadmap for innovation for the ‘Decade of Innovation - 2010-2020’ focussing on five key parameters namely Platform, Inclusion, Eco-system, Drivers and Discourse”.[1] Pursuant to the creation of the NIC, Sectoral Innovation Councils [“SIC”][2] were established in order to promote innovation in particular sectors.

The focus of this post is on the SIC established by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion [“DIPP”] – a 12 member body on Intellectual Property Rights [“IPR”]. What is the mandate of this body? What have been its activities over the few years of its existence? What vision does it have of the development of IPR in India over the course of this critical decade?

In 2012, the body drafted a strategy document that did three things: an overview of the contemporary IP system, stakeholders’ involved in the protection and commercialization of IPRs and recommendations for an IPR Strategy.[3] This ambitious document merits significant work in order for actionable recommendations that will form the basis for a coherent IPR Strategy. The body has the burden to show how its work will be consistent with that of the IPR Think Tank and the National IPR Policy. In light of the circulation of the 2012 first draft of the strategy, Ajay Dua, former Secretary of the DIPP commented that the strategy would help in improving trade and capital flows. CIS has noted the increasingly trade-oriented approach to IPR in a previous comment on the US 301 Report.[4] However, the work and action that the SIC has taken does not reflect any of these ambitious documents or statements. In limbo for the past three years, we know very little about its functioning.

First, we know the Terms of Reference of the SIC.[5] The SIC has the mandate to formulate the National IPR Strategy to “address key concerns of sustainable development, inclusive growth and food security”. Further, formulation of medium term policy objectives that would provide the proper context to the strategy itself. Significantly, the SIC is required by the Terms of Reference to submit a roadmap within six months of its establishment.

The IPR Think Tank constituted by the DIPP also has a similar mandate, in so far as the Terms of Reference for the IPR Think Tank includes tasks such as drafting the National IPR Policy, identifying areas in IPRs that require further studying, creating views on the implications of demands by various negotiating partners, keeping the government informed about developments in IPR law, advising the government on best practices to be followed in different government offices that work with IPRs, advising the Ministry on solutions to any anomalies in IPR legislation, examining issues raised by industry associations and those that may have appeared in the media and providing suggestions to the Ministry on the IPR issues of the day.[6]

This raises questions of whether the SIC is required at all and what if any purpose it serves that is not already covered by the National IPR Think Tank.

Second, we know the minutes of the meeting of the SIC on IPRs dated 30 April 2013.[7] No further information of any other meetings, if any, is provided by the DIPP or the NIC. The minutes are an insightful window into the functioning of this body. Of the 12 members of the SIC, only 6 were present at the meeting. Of these 6 individuals, 2 – Mr. Sushil Kumar Jain and Professor Surendra Prasad – were not present in person but sent representatives instead. This was noted in a slightly disapproving tone by the body: “It was agreed that in future since members have been nominated by name, they may not send representatives and may instead provide their valuable views in the meeting”. We do not know whether future meetings, if any, witnessed better attendance.

In conclusion, the dormant nature of the SIC can only be probed further using the tools of the Right to Information Act [“RTI”]. What, however, is the harm of an institution like the SIC that is doing nothing. At a pragmatic level, it is a drain on public resources and time. More egregiously, on a principled level, such bodies serve to only legitimize contemporary trends in IP discourse. We have explored some of these trends in past blog posts.[8] Whether it is its trade-oriented nature or the undue emphasis on rights-holders, bodies like the SIC serve to entrench the alienation of the raison d’etre, the founding principles, of IP – innovation and creativity for all.

Annex I – RTI filed by CIS with the DIPP seeking information on the functioning of the NIC

26 June 2015


Central Public Information Officer,
IPR I, II, III, IV, V and VI Sections,
Room No. 260,
Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi.

Subject: Request for Information under Section 6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 regarding Functioning of the Sectoral Innovation Council on Intellectual Property Rights under the National Innovation Council

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

  1. Full Name of the Applicant: Nehaa Chaudhari
  2. Address of the Applicant: Centre for Internet and Society, G-15 Top Floor, Hauz Khas, New Delhi - 110016. Mailing Address: [email protected]
  3. Information Required: Context

Please consider this an application for information under Section 6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Therefore, I seek information on the following:

a) How many meetings has the Sectoral Innovation Council [“SIC”] of the DIPP on Intellectual Property Rights [“IPR”] held since its establishment?

b) Please supply minutes and all related documents of all its meetings?

c) How much are members of the SIC paid? Are members paid on the basis of time or number of meetings held?

d) Has the SIC done any work or produced any outputs other than the 2012 draft of the National IPR Strategy?

This is to certify that I, Nehaa Chaudhari, am a citizen of India.

A fee of Rs. 10/- (Rupees Ten Only) has been made out in the form of a demand draft drawn in favour of “Public Information Officer, ..................................................”

Please provide me this information in electronic form, via the email address provided above.

[1] http://innovationcouncilarchive.nic.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=47

[2] http://innovationcouncilarchive.nic.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25&Itemid=18

[3] http://dipp.nic.in/english/Discuss_paper/draftNational_IPR_Strategy_26Sep2012.pdf

[4] http://cis-india.org/a2k/blogs/us-301-report-a-myopic-view-of-ip-rights

[5] http://innovationcouncilarchive.nic.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=47

[6] http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=110790


[8] http://cis-india.org/a2k/blogs/us-301-report-a-myopic-view-of-ip-rights

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