Illicit trade counterfeit goods hindering India's path to becoming global economic powerhouse SC judge

New Delhi, Sep 29 (PTI) Supreme Court judge Justice K V Viswanathan said on Friday the complex problem of illicit trade and counterfeit goods was hindering the country's path towards achieving its potential as a global economic powerhouse.
    The apex court judge was delivering his keynote address on 'The Power of Judicial Interventions: Current Trends and Strategies for Combating Counterfeiting and Smuggling' at a conference organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) here.
    "I think it is a topic of seminal significance and of extreme importance, and the sooner we are sensitive to this and address this the better it is for the nation as a whole," he said.
    Justice Viswanathan said illicit trade has become a complex problem that indirectly "feeds upon" criminal activities such as terror-funding and drug trafficking.
    "This conference highlights the seriousness of the threat posed by illicit trade and its intertwined connection with terror financing. It urges all stake-holders to take comprehensive measures to confront emerging challenges," he said.
    "This is especially critical now as it hinders India's path towards achieving its potential as a global economic powerhouse by disrupting the economy and diverting resources that could otherwise be invested in innovation and development models geared for the well being of the citizens," he added.
    Justice Viswanathan said counterfeiting and smuggling have become an increasingly lucrative business, and combined with the integration and deployment of technology, there has been a striking shift in the practices of both illegal activities.
    "Evidence suggests that criminal networks use similar routes and modus operandi to move counterfeit goods as they do to smuggle drugs, firearms and people. The proceeds from other crimes also feed into the production and distribution of counterfeit goods," he said.
    "There have been reports of authorities uncovering operations where proceeds from drug trafficking are channelled into counterfeiting, and where profits from sale of counterfeit goods were used to further criminalise illicit operations," Justice Viswanathan said.
    The top court judge said policy makers could adopt suitable tax measures for genuine products to curb counterfeiting.
    He said instead of conventional policing there was a need for proactive policing along with robust and special investigative techniques.
    Justice Viswanathan said judiciary or judicial intervention was one of the components of combating the menace and the problem has to be addressed comprehensively.
    "Judiciary can come in. It has to play a stellar role. It has always played a stellar role but it can only be one of the components," Justice Viswanathan said.
    He said the legislature has adopted a multi-faceted approach in its endeavour to combat counterfeiting and smuggling activities.
    The framework encompasses intellectual property rights laws, trademark acts, Consumer Protection Act along with proactive customs and border control measures, besides the work done for investigation and prosecution by specialised agencies, he said.
    The two-day conference organised by FICCI's Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) was titled 'MASCRADE 2023 – Tracking Illicit Trade: Socio-Economic Perspectives and Way Forward'.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)