Topic: Khajanchi Film Exchange And Anr. vs State Of M.P. And Ors - Copyright

Khajanchi Film Exchange And Anr. vs State Of M.P. And Ors
Equivalent citations: AIR 2003 MP 3, 2002 (3) MPHT 103, 2003 (26) PTC 183 MP
Bench: B Singh, A Singh - Date of Judgments: 24 April, 2002

The appellants apprehending the violation of their copyright in the film, prayed for the writ of “Mandamus” without first exhausting the alternative remedy available under the Copyright Act. The Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court Observed:
“ There is no dispute in the submission that it is the duty of police to be watchful in the area and detect crime and punish the criminal in accordance with law. But the petitioners did not complain that any stage nor did they seek action from other functionaries of the State. They ask for mandamus without putting the grievance before the respondent and seeking their reaction. The writ petition was filed 16 days before the release of the film. Enough time appellants had, to approach the authorities/ police and later to the respondents giving their reaction to the grievance and how it was ready to deal with the matter. Therefore, unless the demand was put across and reaction awaited for some time, moving the court was premature and unsustainable. Therefore, petition was filed on mere apprehension that appellants would be deprived of their rights which did not exist when claim for mandamus was made. Mandamus can be granted only when default, commission, or omission takes place which had not happened in this case”.

ORDER

Bhawani Singh, C.J.

1. This appeal is directed against order dated 5-2-2002 passed by Single Judge in W.P. No. 6077 of 2001 (Khajanchi Film Exchange and Anr. v. State of M.P. and Ors.).

2. Appellants alleged that producers have not released video rights of film 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam', therefore, violation of Copyright by illegal duplication of film and screening thereof would cause them immense financial disadvantage. They take shelter of right to trade, Copyright Act apart from Bye-laws to take cognizance and seize pirated material.

3. Consequently, writ petition is preferred seeking mandamus against 35 respondents. Appellants succeeded in obtaining interim relief, however, failed ultimately and suffered cost of Rs. 15,000.00, Single Judge having come to the conclusion after consideration how appellants move the Court, conduct amounting to gross misuse of writ jurisdiction of the Court, putting respondents to unnecessary notice.

4. Short question advanced for our consideration by appellants is that they genuinely apprehended violation of Copyright Act by illegal and inconvenient duplication and screening of cinematograph film 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam', the experience being that with a view to provide quick entertainment to customers, cable operators indulge in making video cassettes and screen them through various means. On this apprehension, protection was sought so that Police/Officials could take action and prevent commission of crime. They placed reliance on Regulation 321 of M.P. Police Regulations which envisages duty of police to prevent commission of crime, Apex Court decision in Delhi Administration v. Ram Singh (AIR 1962 SC 63), Paragraph 18 of which says :

"18. The entire police duties in connection with the purposes of the Act within a certain area have been put in the charge of a special police officer. There must be a definite purpose behind the provision of appointing a police officer in charge of the police duties within a specified area for the purpose of this Act, there can be no special reason for making the provision for the appointment of a special police officer. The expression 'police duties' will include all the functions of the police in connection with the purpose of the Act and in the special context of the Act they will include the detection, prevention and investigation of offences and the other duties which have been specially imposed on them under the Act."

Appellants also referred to another Apex Court decision in State of Punjab v. Barkat Ram (AIR 1962 SC 276), Paragraph 8 of which reads thus :--

"8. The Police Act, 1861 (Act V of 1861), is described as an Act for the regulation of police, and is thus an Act for the regulation of that group of officers who come within the word 'police' whatever meaning be given to that word. The Preamble of the Act further says : 'whereas it is expedient to re-organise the police and to make it a more efficient instrument for the prevention and detection of crime, it is enacted as follows'. This indicates that the police is the instrument for the prevention and detection of crime which can be said to be the main object and purposes of having the police. Sections 23 and 25 lay down the duties of the police officers and Section 20 deals with the authority they can exercise. They can exercise such authority as is provided for a police officer under the Police Act and any Act for regulating criminal procedure. The authority given to police officers must naturally be to enable them to discharge their duties efficiently of the various duties mentioned in Section 23, the more important duties are to collect and communicate intelligence affecting the public peace, to prevent the commission of offences and public nuisances and to detect and bring offenders to justice and to apprehend all persons whom the police officer is legally authorised to apprehend. It is clear, therefore, in view of the nature of the duties imposed on the police officers, the nature of the authority conferred and the purpose of the Police Act, that the powers which the police officers enjoy are powers for the effective prevention and detection of crime in order to maintain law and order."

5. There is no dispute in the submission that it is duty of police to be watchful in the area and detect crime and punish the criminal in accordance with law. But the petitioners did not complain that at any stage nor did they seek action from other functionaries of the State. They ask for mandamus without putting the grievance before the respondents and seeking their reaction. The film was released on December 14, 2001. Writ petition was filed on 28-11-2001, 16 days before the release of the film. Enough time appellants had, to approach the authorities/police and later to the respondents giving their reaction to the grievance and how it was ready to deal with the matter. Therefore, unless the demand was put across and reaction awaited for some time, moving the Court was pre-mature and unsustainable. In Mani Subrat Jain and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Ors. (AIR 1977 SC 276), Apex Court in Paragraph 9 hold that:--

"9. The High Court rightly dismissed the petitions. It is elementary though it is to be restated that no one can ask for a mandamus without a legal right. There must be a judicially enforceable right as a legally protected right before one suffering a legal grievance can ask for a mandamus. A person can be said to be aggrieved only when a person is denied a legal right by someone who has a legal duty to do something or to abstain from doing something (See Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th Ed. Vol. 1, Paragraph 122); State of Haryana v. Subhash Chander, (1974) 1 SCR 165 = (AIR 1973 SC 2216), Jashbhai Motibhai Desai v. Roshan Kumar Haji Bashir Ahmed, (1976) 3 SCR 58 = (AIR 1976 SC 578) and Ferris Extraordinary Legal Remedies, Paragraph 198)."

Therefore, petition was filed on mere apprehensions that appellants would be deprived of their right which did not exist when claim for mandamus was made. Mandamus can be granted only when default, commission, or omission takes place which had not happened in this case. Judgment of Single Judge does not suffer from any illegality and consequently, the appeal is dismissed.

More anxiety to arrest piracy of film on exhibition less display of self aggrandisement compelled the appellants to move the Court. Therefore, direction of Single Judge for payment of cost is set aside.