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The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950

The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Bill having been passed by both the Houses of Parliament, assented by the President on 1st March, 1950. The Act came into force on 1st September, 1950 and titled as The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (12 of 1950) and formerly it extent to whole of India other than the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act was amended by ‘The Jammu and Kashmir (Extension of Laws) Act, 1956 (62 of 1956)’ for its extension over Jammu and Kashmir. The aim and object of the Act was to prevent improper and unauthorized use of Emblems and Names for certain purposes.

The General Assembly of United Nations Organization(UNO) recommended in the year 1946 that the Member Countries thereof were required to take legislative measures to prevent the unauthorized use, for commercial purposes, of Emblem, the Official seal and Name of United Nations and abbreviations thereof. In many countries, even in India one can see many instances where use of National flag of India, Emblems and Names or pictorial representation of National leaders for commercial or trade purposes and in such manner to offend the sentiments of population of such countries. As such, to prevent such improper use The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Bill was drafted and tabled before the Indian Parliament. The Bill sought to prevent improper use of Names, Emblems, etc., for the purpose of trade, business, calling, profession, patent or design and to impose a penalty for misuse of emblems, etc., specified in the Schedule and empowers the Central Government to make additions, and amendments in the Schedule if necessary.

Similarly, recommendation has also been received from the World Health Organization for prevention of the use of its name and abbreviations i.e. WHO, emblem and official seal. The enactments like Indian Trade Marks Act, 1940, Indian patents and Designs Act, 1911, Indian Merchandise Marks Act, 1889, and the Indian Companies Act, 1913, became inadequate to prevent such abuses. As such Parliament of India finally enacted ‘The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950’.

The Section 2 of the Act provide for definitions of Emblems and Names. Further Section 3 of the Act prohibits improper use of certain emblems and names without permitted by the Central Government, for any trade, business, calling or profession or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design, any name or emblem specified under the Schedule. Moreover, Section 4 of the Act prevents registration of certain companies bearing any Name or Emblem or name, or even grant of patent in respect of invention bearing title which contains any Emblem or Name or even if it contravene Section 3 of the Act.

Section 5 of the Act makes provisions for penalty for offender who violates the provisions specified under  Section 3 of the Act, i.e. maximum fine up to rupees 500. Notably, Section 6 requires previous sanction of Central Government or officers on its behalf for such prosecution.

Section 8 of the Act empowers the Central Government to amend the Schedule annexed with Act by Notification. Section 9 of the Act empowers Central Government to formulate rules by notification in the Official Gazette, to fulfill the purpose of this Act.

The Central Government in exercise of its powers conferred by Section 9 of the Act made the Rules namely, the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Rules, 1982, which make provisions for appointment of Designated officer and also appointment of Committee for the purpose of these Rules.

The Judiciary also played most important role in widening scope of the Act, for example the Supreme Court in Union of India vs. Naveen Jindal & Anr (2004) where the most important question i.e. whether the right to fly the National flag by Indian citizen is fundamental right within meaning of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India was considered.