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Amar Nath Sehgal v. UOI 2005 (30) PTC 253 Del


  • Whether the plaintiff  is entitled to the special rights u/s 57 of the Copyright Act even after the copyrights are vested in the interest of the defendants?
  • Whether there are any damages in respect of any distortion, mutilation, modification or other act in relation to the said work, which is done before the expiration of the term of copyright?


  • Moral rights – The right of the author to claim ownership of his work along with his right to restrain or claim ownership of his work along with the right to restrain or claim damages. The same has been mentioned in section 57 of the copyright act.
  • Article 6bis of the Berne Convention urges the members of the Berne Union to provide legal recognition for the moral rights of attribution and integrity in a work in which copyright exists.


  • Amar Nath (plaintiff), who was a well-known sculptor, was commissioned by the Government for the preparation of a mural at the Vigyan Bhawan.
  • The mural was created over a period of half a decade- by a bronze sculptor and was displayed in 1962.
  • In the year 1979, the government decided to remove the sculptor who was earlier in the lobby to the godown of the Vigyan Bhawan without the authorization and permission of the plaintiff.
  • During the removal of the mural, there was some sort of damage that was done to it due to mishandling and negligence on their part. The plaintiff, Amar Nath, sued the government for the mistreatment of his mural and claimed that it was a violation of his moral rights.


  • The Apex court held that the damages done to the plaintiff’s work are extreme in nature and include mutilation done to the artwork due to negligence and mishandling.
  • The court also reiterated that moral rights protect the soul of an author’s work and said that these cannot be taken away from the author, no matter the work scale.
  • The destruction and mutilation were considered an infringement of the author’s moral rights. The court held that the destruction of the mural is related to the author’s reputation, regardless of the owner.
  • The Court held that the mural whatever be its form today is too precious to be reduced to scrap and languish in the warehouse of the Government of India. It is only Mr. Sehgal who has the right to recreate his work and therefore has the right to receive the broken down mural.
  • He also has the right to be compensated for the loss of reputation, honor and mental injury due to the offending acts of UOI”.
  • The Court passed mandatory injunction against the UOI directing it to return the mural to Mr. Sehgal within two weeks from the date of judgment. Court passed a declaration transferring all the rights over the mural from UOI to Mr. Sehgal and an absolute right to recreate the mural and sell the same.
  • The plaintiff was awarded a compensation of Rs. 5,00,000/- and ordered to give back the mural to the plaintiff to be restored.