IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (September 27th – October 3rd)

After TN, now Kerala HC quashes notification banning online rummy

The Kerala High Court on 27th September quashed a Kerala government notification banning online rummy. This comes on the heels of the Madras High Court judgement that struck down the Tamil Nadu government’s blanket ban on online skill games.

In February, 2021, the Kerala Government through a notification issued under the Kerala Gaming Act prohibited online rummy. A petition was filed by several gaming companies, challenging this amendment. The judgement pronounced by Justice TR Ravi of Kerala High Court, said the notification was arbitrary and violative of the right to trade and commerce and the right to equality guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.

In the Madras High Court judgement, the court observed that rummy and poker were games of skill. The court also noted that there was no difference between physical and online formats for games such as scrabble and chess. It is therefore wrong to assume that a game played online loses its element of skill.

The bill passed by the Karnataka legislature prohibiting online games of skill in the state, has come under a grey cloud now. The two consecutive High Court judgements further put the Karnataka bill under a huge amount of scrutiny. The Karnataka bill banning online games of skill had evoked a wide range of opposition from several industry and trade bodies. The powerful trade organization CAIT said that the bill threatens the thriving Indian gaming startup sector and will end up encouraging illegal offshore gambling and betting apps which operate in the online grey market.

Read order here.

‘Court Cannot Rewrite Statutory Language’: Supreme Court Sets Aside Madras HC Order Reading Down Advance Notice Condition for Broadcasters Under Rule 29(4) of Copyright Rules

The Supreme Court set aside an interim order passed by the Madras High Court in a writ petition filed by some broadcasters/FM Radios challenging Rule 29(4) of Copyright Rules, 2013.

The Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna observed in the case Saregama India Limited vs. Next Radio Limited & Ors. case that Craftsmanship on the judicial side cannot transgress into the legislative domain by re-writing the words of a statute. For then, the judicial craft enters the forbidden domain of a legislative draft.

Before the Madras High Court, the validity of Rule 29(4) was challenged by certain broadcasters/ FM Radio on the ground that it violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and that it is ultra vires Section 31D of the Act. The High Court, in its interim order observed that the duty which is cast on broadcasters in the notice to broadcast under Rule 29(1) is apparently onerous.

In lieu of the same, the High Court had issued the following directions that no copyrighted work can be broadcast in terms of Rule 29 without issuing a prior notice and that details pertaining to the broadcast, particularly the duration, time slots and the like, including the quantum of royalty payable may be furnished within fifteen days of the broadcast or performance.

Before the Apex Court, challenging this interim order, it was contended that the interim order amounts to re-writing Rule 29(4) of the Rules framed in pursuance of the provisions of Section 31D and Section 78(2)(CD) of the Copyright Act 1957. The court noted that the High Court has substituted the provisions of Rule 29(4) with a regime of its own, which is made applicable to the broadcasters and the petitioners before it.

Read order here.

‘Provocation Depends on Mental Attitude of People’: Delhi High Court Disposes Plea to Restrain Movie ‘The Conversion’

The Delhi High Court refused to restrain the release of film ‘The Conversion’, challenged on account of allegedly displaying communally charged content and having the potential of provoking hatred among religious communities.

The Bench noted that the petition has been preferred merely on the basis of the trailer, without reference to the entire context of the movie. It further stated that notice cannot be issued on the basis of “one man’s provocation” and it thus directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to decide the representation made to it by the Petitioner, as expeditiously as possible.

The plea filed by All India Practising Lawyers Council averred that the Trailer of the Movie depicts biased and communal content and that the movie has the potential of communal polarization amidst the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

Case Title: All India Practising Lawyers Council v. Union of India & Ors.

Right To Be Forgotten Depends on How Far It Has to Be Stretched, Rights Have To Be Balanced: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court observed that the Right to be Forgotten depends on how far it has to be stretched and that the rights of a person have to be balanced.

The development came while the Court issued notice on a plea moved by one Sukhmeet Singh Anand seeking removal of a judgment and an order passed in connection with a 7-year-old FIR registered against him, thereby invoking his Right to be Forgotten.

The Court therefore sought response of Centre, Indian Kanoon and Google and granted a period of four weeks for the purpose of filing counter affidavit in the matter whereas two weeks’ time was granted for filing rejoinder, if any.

The petition places reliance on the order passed by Justice Pratibha M Singh wherein interim protection was granted to an American Citizen of Indian origin by directing Indian Kanoon to block the judgement of his acquittal under NDPS Act from being accessed by using search engines such as Google/Yahoo etc.

Recently, the High Court had also granted interim relief to a Bengali actress, seeking restraint on publication and streaming of her naked videos on various online platforms including YouTube.

The Court also issued notice on a plea filed by Ashutosh Kaushik, winner of Roadies and Bigg Boss, seeking directions to remove all the posts, videos, articles, etc from the internet, allegedly sensationalizing his past life at the strength of a 2009 drunken driving case and altercation at a Mumbai Cafe in 2013.

The matter will now be heard on December 1.

Karnataka High Court restrains Netflix from streaming first episode of web series ‘Crime Stories: India Detectives’

The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed OTT platform, Netflix, to block the streaming of the first episode of web series Crime Stories: India Detectives.

Justice BM Shyam Prasad ordered that the pilot episode titled A Murdered Mother” should not be streamed since it could cause harassment and prejudice to the petitioner, a murder accused.

The Court was hearing a petition moved by one Sridhar Rao, a 28-year-old resident of Bengaluru, a co-accused in the murder of 54-year-old Nirmala Chandrashekar. Amrutha Chandrashekar, the daughter of the deceased lady, is the other accused in the case. It was alleged that Amrutha had killed her mother and attempted to kill her brother, and later fled to Andaman and Nicobar with the petitioner.

It was the petitioner’s case that the first episode in the series contained the visuals of the investigation by the police in the first information report (FIR) against himself and Amrutha. The petitioner contended that the contents of the first episode would interfere with the petitioner’s defence as it contains interview recorded during the investigation and video recording of a purported confession.

The petitioner’s right to a free and fair trial would be severely prejudiced if the episode it streamed, it was submitted. This apart, it was also contended that the episode violates the petitioner’s privacy and the content, without any justification, exposes the petitioner to ridicule and harassment by the public.

On these grounds, the petitioner filed a suit against the respondents along with an application for temporary injunction. The civil court had not granted interim injunction whereupon the petitioner moved the High Court.

The court also issued notice to Netflix and the producer Minnow Films while posting the case for further hearing on October 21.

RSS- Taliban Comment: RSS Volunteer Files Defamation Suit For ₹1 Against Javed Akhtar in Thane Court

A Thane Court, in Maharashtra, has issued a show-cause notice to lyricist Javed Akhtar in a defamation suit filed against him seeking Re 1 in damages over his interview drawing parallels between nationalist RSS organisation and terror outfit Taliban.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate passed the order in the suit filed by one Vivek Champanerkar seeking symbolic compensation and a permanent injunction against Akhtar from statements against the RSS. The notice is returnable on November 12.

The suit is filed under Sections 38 and 40 of the Specific Relief Act. The show-cause notice is issued under Order V of the Civil Procedure Code.

The 76-year-old poet, lyricist and screenwriter triggered a controversy early this month when he told NDTV that extremist organisations all over the country have an uncanny similarity, drawing parallels between RSS and the Taliban.

In a similar situation, recently the lyricist had accused actress Kangana Ranaut of defamation for damaging his “immaculate reputation” by dragging his name in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in her interview with Republic TV Anchor Arnab Goswami. In that case, currently the actress had filed a plea to transfer the defamation case filed by lyricist Javed Akhtar against her, as she had lost faith in the court.