Reliance Jio files contempt application against Bharti Airtel over not carrying out the disclaimer in bold

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As per reports, the Delhi High Court on April 24, 2018 sought the response of Bharti Airtel in a contempt plea moved by Reliance Jio, alleging that Airtel’s campaign for the Indian Premier League had violated the court’s order dated April 13, 2018.

The high court stated that Bharti Airtel’s advertisements offering “live and free access” to the IPL matches via a free subscription to video streaming platform Hotstar did not carry a disclaimer in bold as it had assured the court. Justice Yogesh Khanna made the observation after perusing the video and print versions of the advertisements placed before the court by Reliance Jio, which claimed that Airtel’s campaign was in violation of the April 13 order of the court.

The court also issued notice to Airtel and sought its stand on Jio’s application seeking immediate rectification of the advertisements and punishment for contempt of the April 13 order.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Jio, said Airtel’s print ads contain a disclaimer which “cannot be read without a magnifying glass”. In the videos, the disclaimer is “neither legible, nor audible” and it is “entirely absent” from the hoardings, he added.

Senior advocates P Chidambaram and Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Airtel, opposed Jio’s claims and contended that their client had complied with the court order. They said an affidavit would be filed indicating compliance of the court order.

After hearing both sides, the court listed the matter for hearing on April 27, 2018. Jio then claimed that each day the advertisements are run, it suffers a loss while Airtel benefits from it. Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that the entire window of the ad campaign was from April 7 to May 26 and, with over two weeks already gone by, immediate action was required.

As reported here, on April 13, Airtel had assured the court that its advertisements will carry a disclaimer to clarify that the subscription of Hotstar shall only be free and that the data charges will be as per subscriber’s tariff plan

Jio had filed the suit aggrieved by the misleading advertisements published by Airtel across various media in which Airtel had allegedly proclaimed that it was offering “live and free” access to Twenty Twenty matches (T20) and the subscriber only needed to obtain a 4G sim from Airtel and download the Airtel TV app to obtain a virtual “season pass” i.e. live and free access to T20 coverage.

Airtel, on the other hand, had contended that Jio was a “jealous competitor” and what it meant by its advertisements was free subscription to Hotstar.

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