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'Compensation for Film Excluding Song Shown in Promo': Supreme Court Stays NCDRC Order Against Yash Raj Films

'Compensation for Film Excluding Song Shown in Promo': Supreme Court Stays NCDRC Order Against Yash Raj Films

The Supreme Court issued notice on September 20,2021, on a special leave petition filed by Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd., challenging a National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission order directing the production house to pay Rs. 10,000/- as compensation to a consumer who was disappointed by the exclusion of the song 'Jabra Fan' from Shah Rukh Khan's 'Fan.'

The NCDRC order against YRF Ltd was also stayed by the Court.

After hearing the counsel for YRF, a bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramanium issued notice on the petition.

TMT Law Practice Partner Naomi Chandra appeared on behalf of YRF.

The petition, filed through Advocate-on-Record Liz Mathew, contends that the song was only intended for promotional purposes, that YRF is under no obligation to include it in the film, and that this fact was widely publicized by all stakeholders.

Afreen Fatima Zaidi claimed she was duped because the song 'Jabra Fan,' which was featured in the film's promos and trailers, was not featured in the film.

She claimed that her children did not eat food on the night they went to see the movie because they were disappointed that the song was not included, resulting in a spike in their acidity levels and hospitalisation.

While the District Consumer Forum dismissed her complaint, the State Commission of Maharashtra upheld her appeal and ordered YRF to pay her Rs. 10,000 in compensation, plus litigation costs of Rs. 5,000, in 2017.

The NCDRC dismissed a revision petition against the said order in February of last year. According to Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act, 19860, the inclusion of a song in a movie promo when it is not actually a part of the movie deceives viewers and constitutes unfair trade practise.

"If a person likes the song shown in the promo and decides to visit a cinema hall to watch the said movie for a consideration, he is bound to feel deceived, disappointed, and dejected if the song shown in the promo is not found in the film," it had observed.

In its appeal, YRF argued that the NCDRC's impugned order violates its fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (g) because it imposes unfair conditions on how it should conduct its professional affairs.

As a result, an application for an interim stay is also made.

YRF has also claimed the following reasons:

1. In this case, it is not the service provider. It agrees,

"Respondent No. 1 used the'services' of the cinema hall rather than the Petitioner, and the business arrangement between the movie's Producer, Distributor, and Exhibitor is irrelevant here. It is argued that there is no contractual privity between the Petitioner and Respondent No. 1."

2. The NCDRC incorrectly determined that there was a deficiency in service on the part of YRF by failing to include a disclaimer that the song 'Jabra Fan' would not be included in the film. It agrees,

"The song 'Jabra Fan' was only meant for the promotion of the movie and was not to be a part of the movie, and this fact was also well publicised on multiple occasions by the Petitioner, the star-cast of the movie, as well as the Director, and the Petitioner has placed various promotional material/interviews on the record evidencing the same."

According to YRF, it is common industry practise to release certain songs for promotional purposes only and not include them when the film is shown.

3. Movies are released and shown in theatres for the experience of seeing the "storey in its entirety." It agrees,

"It is the producer's and director's prerogative to choose which scenes/songs/portions to keep as part of the film after editing and which to show to the public. Members of the public cannot demand that the storey be told in a particular way that appeals to their sensibilities."

It is also argued that the mere absence of the aforementioned song caused no loss to the Respondent and that her claims are exaggerated.

Afreen Fatima Zaidi, the original complainant, and the Central Board of Film Certification have both received notice.

Case Title : Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. V. Afreen Fatima Zaidi & Anr. 

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