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N. Ram Chandra Mission v/s Navneet Kumar Saxena & Another


Company & Directors' Information:- NAVNEET (INDIA) PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U17219WB1976PTC030456

    ORA 168 of 2012/TM/MUM & Miscellaneous Petition No. 185 & 186/2012 and 110/2013

    Decided On, 25 July 2013

    At, Intellectual Property Appellate Board

    By, THE HONOURABLE MS. S. USHA
    By, VICE-CHAIRMAN & THE HONOURABLE MR. V. RAVI
    By, TECHNICAL MEMBER (TRADE MARKS)

    For the Applicant: Amarjit Singh, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, Abhai Pandey, Advocate.



Judgment Text

Order (No. 159 of 2013)

Ms. S. Usha, Vice-Chairman:

Application is for cancellation / removal of the trade mark 'Shri Ram Chandra Mission' along with a device in class 42 under the provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

2. The brief facts of the case are:-

The applicant – Shri Ram Chandra Mission is a spiritual organisation engaged in the service of humanity through imparting training in meditation under the system of Sahaj Marg based on ancient system of Rajayoga. This Mission was registered in 1945 under the Societies Registration Act on 21/07/1945. It has about 750 Centres in all important cities in India and in 92 countries abroad. Mr. P. Rajagopalachari is the President and Mr. U.S. Bajpai is the Secretary for the period from 10/10/2010 to 10/10/2012.

3. Mr. Ram Chandra alias Babuji Maharaj was the founder President. According to the bye-laws, the founder President nominates his successor and there is no provision for the election. The founder President nominated Mr. P. Rajagopalachari as his spiritual successor and President Babuji Maharaj as the President.

4. On 19/04/1983 the former president attained Mahasamadhi and Mr. P. Rajagopalachari assumed the charge as President. Mr. Sharad Saxena and others have been wrongly claiming to the presidency of the Mission. The Working Committee held meetings on various dates and finally on 27/12/1983 resolved that the nomination of Mr. P. Rajagopalachari was genuine.

5. In the year 1993, Mr. U.C. Saxena put up a claim for being the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission for the first time based on a fake nomination dated 16/04/1982. Since 1993 to 2000, Mr. U.C. Saxena engaged himself in various litigations in various Courts to set up a case of being the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission. Mr. U.C. Saxena failed in all the litigations. On the death of Mr. U.C. Saxena, his son Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena posed himself as the elected President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission. He had also got himself impleaded on the various pending litigations filed by his father Mr. U.C. Saxena.

6. Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena filed an application before the Registrar of Societies to accept the alleged amendment in the bye-laws of Shri Rama Chandra Mission making provision for election. This was dismissed by the Registrar of Societies. Against the order of dismissal, Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena filed a Writ Petition and a stay application. The stay application was rejected but the Writ Petition is pending. Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena was restrained by a court order from posing himself as the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission. In spite of the restrained order, Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena continued to pose as the President and therefore a contempt petition was filed for disobeying the orders of the Court.

7. Shri Rama Chandra Mission and another filed a suit against the respondent for infringement of the trade mark and passing off. On 20/03/2012, an order of permanent injunction was granted. The respondent has filed an application to set aside the ex parte decree and the same is pending.

8. Meanwhile, Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena filed several rectification applications for removal of the trade marks registered by Shri Rama Chandra Mission. These rectification applications were dismissed.

9. The applicants are the registered proprietors of the trade marks SRCM, Shri Rama Chandra Mission and Shri Rama Chandra Mission (logo) in India and abroad. The trade marks and service marks are used by the applicants continuously and extensively.

10. The respondents filed several applications for removal of the applicants’ trade marks. The respondents failed to mention this impugned registration which amounts to suppression and concealment of material facts. The respondents Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena and Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena were not able to establish their locus to file the application and therefore the rectification applications were dismissed.

11. Mr. U.C. Saxena and now Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena committed fraud and by misrepresentation obtained exemption in the name of Shri Rama Chandra Mission under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. This was cancelled by the Commissioner of Income Tax. The respondents filed a Writ Petition which is pending.

12. These above facts and the judicial orders clearly show that the registration of the impugned order is an abuse of the process of law and is liable to be removed.

13. The impugned trade mark registration application was filed on 31/10/2007 by Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena falsely claiming to be the proprietor of the trade mark and also made a false claim of user of 21/07/1945. The address given in the application is that of the applicant’s address. The Registrar of Trade Marks without considering the prior existing registration of an identical trade mark along with logo proceeded to grant registration. It is pertinent to mention here that the respondent was restrained from representing himself as the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission by order dated 30/01/2004, but in spite of this fact had filed an application for registration of the impugned trade mark on 31/10/2007 as President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

14. The claim made by Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena as assignee of the impugned trade mark and the trustee of the Mission are also equally fraudulent.

15. The grounds of the application for rectification are:-

(a) the registration has been wrongly made and is wrongly remaining on the register;

(b) the registration has been made without sufficient cause;

(c) the respondent has made false claim of proprietorship while making an application for registration;

(d) the respondent has suppressed the fact that he was restrained from representing himself as the President of the Mission and fraudulently obtained registration;

(e) the respondent had suppressed the fact that his father Mr. U.C. Saxena’s and his claim to be the President of the Mission in various litigations were rejected;

(f) the respondent played fraud by claiming to be the assignee / trustee;

(g) the impugned registration is in contravention of the provisions of Section 23 of the Act;

(h) the impugned registration is in contravention of the provisions of Sections 9 and 11 of the Act;

(i) the Registrar had no jurisdiction to grant registration as the applicants identical trade mark for similar goods were already on the Register;

(j) the Registrar committed an error of law by not discharging his duties to maintain purity of the Register;

(k) the registration was obtained without any bonafide intention to use the same in relation to the goods / services for which it was obtained and therefore liable to be rectified under Section 47 of the Act; and

(l) the applicant is the person aggrieved within the meaning of Section 47 / 57 of the Act as they are the earlier registered proprietors of the identical trade mark.

16. The 1st respondent filed their counter statement stating that the application for rectification is vexatious, frivolous and baseless. Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena is a General Body Member and has been duly authorised by the Society to appear, plead and sign and do all acts on behalf of the Society. As such, he is filing the counter statement.

17. The founder of the Society Mahatma Ram Chandaraji nominated his son Mr. U.C. Saxena as the president of the Society by way of declaration and nomination dated 16/04/1982. Mr. P. Rajagopalachari illegally announced himself as the President of the Mission and therefore a suit for injunction was filed. The Civil Court granted injunction which was appealed against by Mr. P. Rajagopalachari. The appeal was allowed.

18. Mr. P. Rajagopalachari relied on a false and concocted deed of nomination dated 23/03/1974. Against the appeal order, the respondents preferred a Special Leave Petition. The Hon'ble Supreme Court disposed the matter on the undertaking given by the applicants that they will not dispose the property.

19. Mr. U.C. Saxena was the President of the Society until 30/04/1984. On 23/01/1988, the election was held and Dr. S.P. Srivastava was elected as the president. The report of the Thasildar under the Societies Registration Act also recognised Mr. U.C. Saxena as the president.

20. On the death of Mr. U.C. Saxena on 03/11/2003, Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena was unanimously declared as the president of the Society.

21. The application for rectification is an after thought and laced with malafide intention of the applicant to abuse the process of law. It is denied that Mr. U.S. Bajpai is the Secretary and Constituted Attorney and is empowered and authorized to institute and sign the present application. Mr. K.V. Reddy is the elected Secretary of the Society who was the overseas Secretary of the Society at the time of the mahasamadhi of the founder President.

22. Shri Rama Chandra Mission was registered in 1945 under the Societies Registration Act. Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena as President and Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena have been functioning in accordance with the provisions of the Act. It is denied that according to the by-laws, there is no provision for election in respect of office bearers of the Society. As per Section 4 of the Societies Registration Act, election of Managing body is mandatory and as such, election was held in the Society. It is denied that the founder president nominated Mr. P. Rajagopalachari as the President. It is submitted that the last letter dated 02/09/1982 to one of the disciple Mr. M.D. Jahaginiar by the founder president reveals the secret that he has not declared Mr. P. Rajagopalachari as the next president.

23. It is further denied that Mr. P. Rajagopalachari has been functioning as the president ever since 19/04/1983. On the contrary, upon the demise of the founder president, the working committee and the general body had confirmed the nomination of Mr. U.C. Saxena as the president of the Society.

24. The details of the various litigations pending relied on by the applicant cannot be considered as those have not been finally adjudicated. It is denied that the claim of proprietorship of the impugned trade mark made by the 1st respondent is fraudulent.

25. The applicant filed the reply to the counter statement. The counter statement has been filed by Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena, who claims to be the elected working committee member of the Society in support of the registration made in the name of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena trading as Shri Rama Chandra Mission is not a counter statement filed by the registered proprietor in the eyes of law and is liable to be rejected. Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena has no locus standi to file or sign or verify the counter statement either on behalf of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena who is the registered proprietor or on behalf of Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

26. The orders passed by this Board in ORA/283-292/2008 filed by the respondent against the applicant held that Mr. U.C. Saxena’s legal heirs or representatives, namely Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena and Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena were restrained from posing to be the president of the Society by the Addl. District Judge. Though this was only an interim order, this was confirmed by the Supreme Court. Consequently, Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena is neither competent nor has any authority to represent the Mission. The Society is governed by its recognised governing body and not by individual members in any event. The application for registration is made in the name of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena trading as a sole proprietor of Shri Rama Chandra Mission. No evidence is produced by Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena to be authorized or competent to act as an attorney of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena. In view of this, the present application is liable to be allowed rejecting the counter statement.

27. Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena, the registered proprietor has not come forward to file the counter statement as the same would amount to contempt of various orders passed by various courts. The address for service given in the application for registration is neither Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena’s nor is the Mission’s address. The registration is thus an outcome of the fraud played by the respondents.

28. Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena is not the General Body Member and is not authorized to appear, plead or sign on behalf of the Society. The other contentions made in the counter statement were denied.

29. We heard learned counsel Mr. Amarjit Singh for the applicant and learned counsel Mr. Abhai Pandey for the 1st respondent.

30. The learned counsel for the applicant submitted that the impugned trade mark was a mark with the device. The application was made on 31/10/2007 under No. 1616617 in class 42. The user claimed was since 01/12/1945. The registration certificate was issued on 29/03/2010. The application has been filed by Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena trading as Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

31. The applicant was registered in 1945 under the Societies Registration Act under No. 46/1945-46 dated 21/07/1945. Shri Rama Chandra was the founder president and he nominated Mr. P. Rajagopalachari as the President and spiritual successor. Mr. P. Rajagopalachari has been functioning since the date of mahasamadhi of the founder president.

32. Mr. U.C. Saxena posed himself as the president for the first time in the year 1983, though he was present in all the working committee meetings held on 10/07/1983, 23/10/1983 and 27/10/1983. During the period from 1993 till 2003 he engaged himself in various litigations do set a case of being the president of Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

33. The nomination of Mr. P. Rajagopalachari as president was challenged by the representatives of the Mission. The Hon'ble High Court of Allahabad recognised Mr. P. Rajagopalachari as the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

34. The respondent was restrained by an order of injunction to pose himself as the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission by the Hon'ble Civil Judge of Allahabad. This was challenged by the respondents in a Writ Petition before the Hon'ble Allahabad High Court which was dismissed. This was confirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 25/07/2003. Thereafter, Mr. U.C. Saxena expired. The legal heirs namely Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena, Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena and others had impleaded themselves in the proceedings. Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena was under an order of injunction on the date of the application for registration.

35. The user claimed in the application is 01/12/1945 is false. The claim of proprietorship is not correct as Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena was not in the Society at all at least till 2003. The counsel then relied on the observations made in the appeal by the Hon'ble Allahabad High Court where it was observed that Mr. P. Rajagopalachari was appointed as the spiritual representative and the same was recognised by the Working Committee. This order was confirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

36. All these facts, namely, the court orders were not brought to the notice of the Registrar at the time of grant of registration. The mark was already registered in the name of the applicants which was not considered by the Registrar while granting registration of the impugned trade mark.

37. The application has been made in the name of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena trading as Shri Rama Chandra Mission. The Shri Rama Chandra Mission is a Society and how the application has been filed in the name of an individual when the proprietorship is not clear, the registration is in contravention of the provisions of Section 18 of the Act.

38. The counter statement to the application for rectification has been filed by Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena. The said Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena is not the elected committee member. His name is not mentioned in the list of members of the Society. If that is the case, it is not clear as to how Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena has filed the counter statement. Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena has no locus standi to file the same.

39. The interim order relied on by the respondent in the Civil Suit No. 282/2013 passed on 25/03/2013 is not a final order and is only an interim order which cannot be relied on by them. Moreover, the respondent is already under an order of injunction restraining there from posing as the president of Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

40. In reply, the learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the application for registration has been filed in the capacity of the President and not in the name of the individual. The application for rectification ought to have been filed under Section 58 and not under Section 57 of the Act. The application under Section 57 is therefore not maintainable.

41. Mr. U.C. Saxena, father of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena and Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena was declared / nominated by a letter dated 16/04/1982 as the successor president of the Society.

42. Section 4 of the Societies Registration Act provides for registration of the office bearers of the Committee of Management, then it means that the elected committee of management is in accordance with law. Therefore, it is not correct to state that there was no provision for election in the constitution.

43. Mr. U.C. Saxena expired and his legal heirs were not impleaded as subsequent defendants, then how could the injunction order operate against them.

44. There is no order authorizing Mr. P. Rajagopalachari to be the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission.

45. We have carefully considered the arguments of both the counsel and have gone through the pleadings and documents.

46. The applicants are the registered proprietors of an identical trade mark as that of the impugned trade mark. There is no dispute that both the parties are before various Courts in various litigations. That apart, the respondents have filed several rectification applications for removal of the registered trade marks. For these reasons, we have no hesitation in holding the applicants to be an aggrieved person.

47. The other issue would be the claim of proprietorship of the trade mark under Section 18 of the Act. The appellants’ claim is that Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena has filed the application for registration in his name trading as Shri Rama Chandra Mission which is not lawfully / legally valid, as the application cannot be filed in the individ

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ual name for it is a Society. The respondents’ reply would be that the application has been filed by Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena not in the personal name but in the capacity as the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission. Even if that is the case, when there is an order operating against him restraining him from posing himself as President, Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena could not have filed the application in the capacity of President of the Mission. Therefore, the registration under Section 18 is in contravention of the provisions of the Act. 48. The respondent had stated that the application under Section 57 is not maintainable as the application ought to have been filed under Section 58 of the Act for correction. In our considered view, the respondents’ submission is negated. Section 58 of the Act provides that correction which may be carried out at the request of the registered proprietor and not by any third party. We, therefore, find that the rectification application has been filed by the applicant in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Therefore, the application for rectification is maintainable. 49. The next issue would be filing of the counter statement by Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena. There is no proof of evidence to show how and under what authority has Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena filed this counter statement. In our considered opinion, Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena probably could have filed the counter statement as there was an injunction order restraining Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena from posing as the President of the Society. The application has been filed in the name of Mr. Navneet Kumar Saxena (even assuming in the capacity of the President of Shri Rama Chandra Mission), it is not clear as there is no explanation as to why Mr. Puneet Kumar Saxena has filed the counter statement. 50. In view of these reasons, the application for rectification is allowed with a direction to the Registrar to cancel the trade mark under No. 1616617 in class 42. All Miscellaneous Petitions are closed. The respondents to pay a cost of Rs. 10,000/-.
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