Sony Pictures moves Bombay HC after bank files criminal defamation case against Scam 1992

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The owner of SonyLIV app, Sony Pictures Network India Pvt Ltd, has approached the Bombay HC pleading for urgent relief after an FIR was registered against it on a complaint by Karad Urban Co-operative Bank (KUCB) for offences of defamation under the Indian Penal Code, violation of Trademarks Act and Information Technology Act. The complaint alleges that in one of the episodes of the SonyLIV series Scam 1992, a logo was displayed in the background which resembled the trademarked logo of KUCB.

SONY PICTURES APPROACHES BOMBAY HC IN CASE AGAINST SCAM 1992
The division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar on Friday, August 20, orally directed the Pune Police to not take any coercive action against the owner of SonyLIV app, Sony Pictures Network India Pvt Ltd, in the case registered against them.

Sony Pictures had approached the Bombay High Court after an FIR was registered by a bank stating trademark infringement in the web series Scam 1992. The FIR is registered for offences of defamation under the Indian Penal Code, violation of Trademarks Act and Information Technology Act.

The complaint was filed by Karad Urban Co-operative Bank (KUCB) stating that during one of the episodes in the series, a logo allegedly resembling the bank’s trademark logo was displayed in the background. Scam 1992, is about a scamster, Harshad Mehta. In the series, a logo was displayed in the background which resembled the trademarked logo of KUCB, causing serious damage to the “financial, commercial and social reputation” of the bank. On this complaint, Pune Police registered an FIR for offences punishable under Section 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code, Section 102, 107 (falsely applying trademarks) of the Trademarks Act and Section 66C and 43(b) of the Information Technology Act.

Sony pictures’ petition in the High Court states that they were merely broadcasting a series which was owned and produced by Applause Entertainment Private Limited. The series was a cinematic adaptation of the book titled The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away.

They stated that a disclaimer disclaiming all liabilities towards the aired content was published at the start of every episode of the series. They stated that the ‘Bank of Karaj’ used in the series was a pseudonym for ‘Bank of Karad’ whose involvement in the scam was already in the public domain, investigated and finally confirmed by the investigating agency. “There was no intention or conspiracy, as is being hinted at, to malign the name” of KUCB, says the petition.

The petitioners stated that the urgency in approaching the High Court was that the Pune police had issued notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, thus implying that Sony was an accused in the case.

The high court will now hear the petition for urgent relief on August 23, 2021.

ALL ABOUT SCAM 1992
Directed by Hansal Mehta, Scam 1992 is based on the story of stockbroker Harshad Mehta who committed the 1992 Indian stock market scam, the biggest market scam in India that caused a market crash. The film stars Pratik Gandhi, Sharib Hashmi, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Hemant Kher and Nikhil Dwivedi in lead roles. It is currently streaming on SonyLIV.

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