The Bombay High Court on Monday allowed ad-interim security from arrest to the directors, and employees of Sony Pictures Network India Pvt Ltd, owner of the SonyLIV OTT platform in a case concerning claimed defamation and trademark violation of logo of Karad Urban Co-operative Bank (KUCB) [Sony Pictures Network India Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra & Anr.]
Senior Advocate Shirish Gupte performing for Sony made two-fold submissions:
- That no FIR could have been registered for an offence of defamation as it was a non-cognizable offence;
- That the offences under the Trademarks Act have to be examined by an officer equivalent or higher than the rank of Deputy Superintendent of the Police; but in the present case, the investigation is being managed by an Inspector.
Senior Advocate Amit Desai performing for Applause Entertainment Ltd, the producer of the series, said that as per the judgment in the case of Prateek Chandragupt Goyal v. the State of Maharashtra the offence of violation is not made out.
A Bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar ordered the Pune Police to show on the grounds in the request and the submissions made by the Senior Counsel.
The Court declared that till the changes are not performed by the officers, the investigation will stay.
“At this stage it is not required to elaborate further, suffice it is to say that the investigation cannot go on further. Ad-interim stay on the investigation allowed till next date of hearing,” the Court directed.
Sony moved the High Court trying to quash the FIR lodged on a charge by KUCB against unnamed persons, claiming that in one of the scenes of the SonyLIV series ‘Scam 1992, The Harshad Mehta story’, a logo was presented in the background which matched the trademarked logo of KUCB creating grave damage to the “financial, commercial and social reputation” of the bank.
On this objection, the Pune Police recorded an FIR for offences punishable under Section 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 102, 107 (falsely applying for trademarks) of the Trademarks Act and Sections 66C and 43(b) of the Information Technology Act.
The importance in addressing the High Court was that Pune police had published a notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure thus mentioning that Sony was an accused in the case.
The matter has been scheduled for the ultimate hearing on September 17, 2021.