Criminal defamation case on “Scam 1992” web series

The Bombay High Court , through an interim order against Sony Pictures in a case of alleged criminal defamation and copyright infringement in its ‘Scam 1992’ web series.

Recently The Bombay High Court , through an interim order, stayed an ongoing probe by Pune police against Sony Pictures in a case of alleged criminal defamation and copyright infringement in its ‘Scam 1992’ web series.

SonyLIV app, approached the HC in the earlier months, seeking to subdue the FIR enrolled against it by the Pune police on a complaint by Karad Urban Co-usable Bank (KUCB) for offenses of criminal defamation and trademark encroachment. The complaint had been documented by KUCB against unidentified people, asserting that in one of the scenes of the series ‘scam 1992,’ a logo similar to that of the complainant bank was shown in the behind  and this made serious harm the bank’s reputation.

Sony Pictures said a disclaimer against all liabilities towards the aired content was published at the beginning of every episode of the series. The FIR was baseless and absurd it added.

A seat of Justices S Shinde and N J Jamadar observed the accommodation made by the Sony Pictures’ guidance, senior advocate Shirish Gupte, that while according to law the investigation for a situation of criminal defamation should be led by an official of deputy superintendent level, in the current case, a inspector was researching the alleged offenses.

Senior advocate Shirish Gupte further said there existed past Supreme Court decisions, according to which an case of criminal defamation under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was not a cognisable offense and police need not register a FIR following the receipt of a complaint.

Jayesh Yagnik, The state government’s counsel, told the HC that the state had been made aware of the error in the ongoing investigation following the Gupte’s submission.

Yagnik said “We have told the officers concerned to correct the mistake. A deputy superintendent-level officer will begin the probe afresh.”

“At this stage it is not necessary to elaborate. It is sufficient to say that the investigation cannot go on further. Ad interim relief in terms of stay on the investigation till next hearing,” the HC said.

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