Madras high court has quashed the controversial amendment to the Patents Act, 1970, through which a lawyer's automatic right to appear before tribunals as patent agent was taken away by the Center and the controller of patents.

The amendment made it mandatory for even lawyers to clear an examination to become registered patent agents who can file patent applications on behalf of individual inventors and companies.

Justice S Tamilvanan stated an advocate is entitled to appear before any court, including the Supreme Court, tribunals and other authorities. Such right of an advocate cannot be tampered with by patent authorities in the name of selecting patent agents.

Quashing the amendment, Justice Tamilvanan By the amendment, the term 'advocates within the meaning of Advocates Act, 1961' has been unreasonably deleted by the authorities, without any justifiable reason. Therefore, preventing advocates, who are better qualified persons, and retaining less qualified persons as patent agents on the basis of the examination conducted by patents authorities, would not be justified. The amendment is volatile of Article 14 of the Constitution, as it is an unreasonable class-legislation."

Pointing out that advocates have been unfairly deprived of their automatic right to appear before the tribunals as patent agents, Chockalingam filed the petition and argued the matter in person saying the constitutional and fundamental rights of advocates had been taken away by the amendment.

Justice Tamilvanan, agreeing with the petitioner, said: "This court is of a considered view that BL or LLB awarded by any recognized university is a degree of social science in law, and a practicing lawyer is a social engineer."

On the submission that the amendment was introduced because India was signatory of various international treatises, Justice Tamilvanan said the claim was not supported by any material. Also, the sovereignty and the constitutional supremacy of the nation cannot be diluted by raising a plea of international contracts with other countries. India is a sovereign country not amenable to any outside authority. Hence, even by way of international treaty or conventions, constitutional mandates cannot be taken away, the judge observed.