WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS

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MAKERS OF THE FILM ‘ME TOO’ MOVE DELHI HC AGAINST CBFC TO ENSURE SMOOTH RELEASE OF THE FILM

The film Me Too starring Irudhi Suttru fame Ritika Singh has been facing problems from the Central Board of Film Certification. Directed by debutant Harsha Wardhan from the US, the film revolves a college girl who is a victim of sexual harassment. The movie was completed seven months ago but is still to get clearance from the board.

The censor board had initially raised objections to certain dialogues in the movie and refused to certify the film. Following this, the makers first approached the Mumbai Revising Committee of CBFC and then went to the Chennai Revising Committee. However, as per reports, the Chennai Revising Committee headed by Gautami, found issues with the title of the film ‘Me Too.’

Furthermore, the Censor Board, vide its order of November 12, 2018 had directed public exhibition of the film to be restricted to adults subject to carrying out “several excisions/modifications/cuts and denied certification to the film unless the title was changed. Producer Sajid Qureshi therefore decided to approach the Delhi High Court to ensure smooth release of the film.

Regarding the board’s recommendation to change the title ‘Me Too,’ the petition said that CBFC had not given any reasonable justification for it and their view that the complexity of the ‘Me Too’ movement would be misunderstood if the title was not changed, was neither rational nor justified. It further stated that none of the directions contained in the order of the CBFC with regard to the change in the title or by insertion of disclaimers would fall within the ambit of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT STAYS ARREST OF SONAKSHI SINHA IN A CHEATING CASE

The Allahabad High court on March 8,  stayed the arrest of actor Sonakshi Sinha in connection with a criminal case lodged against her allegedly cheating an organiser of an event. [Read order here]

An FIR was lodged against Sinha and four others at Katghar police station, Moradabad, on February 22, 2019 by one Pramod Sharma, alleging that she had agreed to participate in an event on September 30, 2018 at Delhi and had accepted a sum of Rs 37 lakh for it. However, she declined to come at the last moment and because of it he suffered huge losses.

Sonakshi Sinha filed a quashing petition against the FIR. Disposing the petition, a division bench comprising justice Naheed Ara Moonis and justice Virendra Kumar Srivastava directed that she will not be arrested till the submission of report by the police after completion of investigation into the matter. However while staying her arrest, the court directed that Sinha shall cooperate with the investigation and shall appear as and when required to assist in the investigation. “It is clarified that the petitioner shall not be subjected to any embarrassment or harassment in the intervening period”, the court directed.

The court however declined another request made in the petition for quashing of FIR lodged against the actor, saying, “From perusal of the FIR, prima facie cognizable offences is made out at this stage against the petitioner, therefore, we do not find any cogent reason to quash the first information report. The prayer for quashing the first information report is refused”.

During the course of hearing, the counsel for the petitioner submitted that the FIR had been lodged by the complainant containing concocted allegations against the petitioner with the ulterior motive of exerting pressure on her.

DUBAI BASED FIRM MOVES BOMBAY HC TO BLOCK NETFLIX’S FILM ON 26/11

Plus Holdings (Petitioner), a Dubai based firm filed a petition against Netflix Global LLC and others in the Bombay High Court to block Netflix from releasing the film titled “Hotel Mumbai” on Netflix’s OTT platform in India on the grounds that petitioner had the rights to release the film in the Indian market vide agreement between the petitioner and Netflix. The film story is based on true events of 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

The petition was filed by the petitioner under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 following an arbitration award granted in petitioner’s favor by an arbitration court in Singapore. The firm claimed that Netflix, who intended on releasing the said film in India, was in breach of the Emergency Award and of the firm’s unique rights and entitlements in the film.

Hotel Mumbai Pvt. Ltd (HMPL), the original owners of the rights of the said film had granted these rights to Australia based Xeitgeist Entertainment Group, who then granted broadcasting and distribution rights of the movie to Plus Holdings for SAARC Nations (which) included India. However, the agreement was terminated unlawfully, and consequently, the rights reverted back to HMPL. Further, HMPL entered into a licence agreement with Netflix and granted the said rights to Netflix. However, the counsel for Netflix stated that the licensed rights with regard to the film in question were terminated.

The High Court vide order March 07, 2019, stated that Netflix shall not be exhibiting the film in question and will also withdraw all publicity material in respect of the film as the licensed rights which were granted to Netflix were also terminated. In furtherance, the Court added that Netflix is no more a necessary party to these proceedings and accordingly ordered them to be removed. The Court also restrained original Owners from entering into any agreements or creating any third party rights in relation to the said film as an ad interim protection. The matter is further listed for hearing on April 04, 2019.

INDIAN NATIONAL LEAGUE CALLS BAN ON FILM ‘90 ML’; DEMANDS ARREST OF ACTOR OVIYA AND CAST MEMBERS

Indian National League Party’s State Women’s Wing chief Aarifa Razak has filed a complaint at the Chennai Police Commissioner’s office against actor Oviya, director Anita Udeep and the cast members of a recent Tamil film ‘90 ML’ for degrading Tamil culture. In addition to arresting the film’s cast and its director, Aarifa has also called for a ban on the film. 90ML is an adult comedy film about five young women who bond over cigarettes and drinks. The film was certified ‘A’ by the Central Board of Film Certification ahead of its release.

In her complaint, Aarifa alleged that the film would propogate ‘rape culture’ and such films tend to create rapists. Also, pointing out towards the film’s title, she further stated that it would promote alcoholism among women and the core story would wrongly guide young girls to smoke, drink, and discuss sex.  However, a FIR is yet to be registered on this complaint.

DELHI HC DIRECTS FACEBOOK TO REMOVE LINKS OF DEROGATORY VIDEO ABOUT BABA RAMDEV

The Delhi High Court vide order dated  February 26, 2019, directed Facebook and others to take down a video that allegedly defamed Patanjali products and Baba Ramdev. Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd had approached the High Court alleging that an unknown person had made several defamatory, disparaging and threatening statements against Patanjali Products. The Court had on January 24, 2019, issued an interim order directing Facebook, Google, its subsidiary YouTube and Twitter to block the video links.

Justice Pratibha M Singh, while passing the order observed that the explicit language used in the video was not just defamatory and derogatory but could border on threats constituting violations of law and encourage unknown people to harass Patanjali Ayurved Ltd and Baba Ramdev. It was also added that the video was violative of the guideline that Google and Youtube had prescribed for themselves.

The Court further directed Facebook to ensure that the links to the said video are no longer made available on its platform. Google and YouTube informed the court that the video was contrary to their policies and had already been removed. It also directed the social media platforms to give in a sealed cover the subscriber information regarding the individual who uploaded the video. Regarding the question whether such platforms can be directed to remove, block or disable content on the international domain and not merely on the Indian domain, the court said it is left open to be adjudicated in an appropriate case.

The Court while disposing off the suit stated if any further instances of uploading the same video come to the knowledge of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, they are permitted to intimate the platforms which shall take down the video within 48 hours.

INOX, HINDUSTAN COCA-COLA RELIEVED AFTER DISMISSAL OF UNFAIR BUSINESS COMPLAINTS

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed a complaint alleging unfair trade practices against multiplex chain operators, Inox and Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, with respect to selling of beverages in multiplexes.

The complaint was filed by Telangana based Vijay Gopal, who alleged that Inox had colluded with Coca Cola by entering into exclusive supply/sale agreement to sell water/beverages within the multiplexes at higher prices. He also alleged that there existed an arrangement between them wherein consumers had no option but to buy essential goods like water in multiplexes, and entering into such agreements would violate Section 3 of the Competition Act, 2002.

However, CCI noted that there was no appreciable adverse effect on competition, with regard to the agreement between the companies, which needed to be established in order to examine any possible violation of Section 3 of the Act. It was also observed that there was no necessity to buy any such goods to watch a movie, contrary to which Inox even provides free water inside the multiplexes as noted by CCI in another order passed on February 28. Consequently, CCI found no violation of the Competition Act, and dismissed the matter.

AMITABH BACHCHAN RECEIVES LEGAL NOTICE DEMANDING RUPEES ONE CRORE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA POST

Bollywood Star, Amitabh Bachchan, has received a legal notice for allegedly posting a “poem” on his Twitter and Facebook handles. The MDU welfare youth director, Dr. Jagbir Rathee, has demanded Rs 1 Crore as compensation for using his ‘poem’ without his consent and crediting someone else.

Rathee reportedly claims that Big B’s follower, Vikas Dubey on the actor’s Twitter handle shared one of his poems written in 2006. Later, Amitabh shared this poem on his Facebook and Twitter giving credit to the follower. He added that he tried to communicate the issue to the star via Facebook and Twitter accounts but was unable to contact him for almost a year. Consequently, Rathee used his only option of sending a legal notice through his lawyer, asking him to remove the post and demanding the monetary damages within 15 days.

SCREENWRITERS ASSOCIATION TO FIGHT PLAGIARISM BY SETTING UP LEGAL FUND

The Screenwriters Association (SWA) has decided to set up a legal fund to help writers combat plagiarism and protect their intellectual property. It would include paying 50 per cent of the lawyer’s fee and also help struggling writers file a case.

According to Anjum Rajabali, an executive committee member of the SWA, scripts will lead films in the coming years and will attract A-list actors. Consequently, the SWA is gearing up to start offering legal aid to writers. Assistance will be provided on case-to-case basis, and if any writer requires help, more than 50 percent may also be allotted. For this purpose, six copyright lawyers have been hired to offer their legal services and assistance to the writers at concessional rates. Mr. Anjum also added that the SWA conducts detailed and thorough research for determination of infringement of any case and advised serious consideration of any letters from the association.

CHARGES CONTINUE AGAINST SHAH RUKH KHAN FOR ‘RAEES’ PROMOTION STUNT

The Rajasthan High Court on March 06, 2019 ruled that the charges of rioting and endangering the life of people against renowned Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan during the promotion of his film on board a train in Kota will continue even though the petitioner said he did not want to pursue the case further.

To promote his 2017 action crime film ‘Raees’, Khan had travelled from Mumbai to New Delhi in the August Kranti Rajdhani Express on January 23-24 the same year. When the train halted at the Kota Railway Station in Rajasthan at 6 in the morning on January 24, the superstar threw gifts for his fans that created a stampede-like situation thereby causing heavy damage to the public property.

Vikram Singh, a railway vendor who was a victim of the stampede, had filed this case against Shah Rukh Khan under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 147: rioting, 149: unlawful assembly, 160: affray, 427: mischief causing damage, 120B: criminal conspiracy, Section 3 of prevention of damage of public property, 145: drunknness and nuisance and 146: obstructing railway employees from their duties of the Railways Act, 1989. The superstar had filed a petition seeking cancellation of the FIR against him.

Vikram Singh, on March 6, 2019, told the court that he did not wish to pursue the case further. However, the public prosecutor Sher Singh Mehla said the petitioner could not decide the case because it involved loss to public property. The prosecutor further added that Shah Rukh Khan was found guilty by the Government Railway Police (GRP) in Kota, of rioting and endangering life and personal safety of others in its report. The case is further listed for hearing on May 28, 2019.

MADRAS HIGH COURT ORDERS GOVERNMENT TO FIND OUT IF TV SERIALS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIRS

In an order passed on March 5, 2019, the High Court of Madras instructed the Government to find out whether TV Shows have influenced people to have extra marital affairs, which according to them lead to a surge in crimes such as murder, assault and kidnap.

The case is a consequence of a fight between two men, Joseph and Lokesh, who were allegedly in an “illicit” relationship with the same woman. The fight led to Joseph’s death and Lokesh was thus detained under the Tamil Nadu Goondas Act. One of Lokesh’s associates, Ajith, had approached to High Court to quash his detention under the Tamil Nadu Goondas Act. On merits, the Court allowed Ajith’s petition and quashed the detention order.

However, the facts of the case led the Bench to keep the matter pending to deal with the general problem of extra-marital affairs. In order to explore ways of curbing the “social evil”, the Court has also impleaded the Union Ministry of Family Welfare and the State of Tamil Nadu and posed them with 20 questions. This was a consequence of the Court’s duty to address the issue, in view of the rising incidents of offences rooted in extra-marital affairs. The matter has been further posted for hearing in the third week of June.

PAKISTAN SUPREME COURT BANS TRANSMISSION OF INDIAN CONTENT ON LOCAL TELEVISION CHANNELS

The Supreme Court of Pakistan vide judgment March 05, 2019 barred private channels from airing Indian films and television shows. This development came amidst escalating tensions between the two countries following the Pulwama terror attack. A three member bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmad took up the case after a lawyer of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) challenged a Lahore High Court order allowing Indian channels in Pakistan.

In October, 2016 PEMRA had imposed a complete ban on airing content on local television channels, but the same was reversed by the Lahore High Court. However, after hearing the arguments, Supreme Court had reinstated the 2016 policy of PEMRA.

This move has come after Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister (I&B), Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, stated that Pakistan film exhibitors association would boycott the Indian films following the air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot. The I&B minister also stated that he had instructed PEMRA to crack down on “made-in-India advertisements.”

Image source: here