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Delhi High Court Rejects Contempt Plea by Bennett Coleman Group Against Arnab Goswami's 'Nation Wants to Know' Tagline

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      23 August, 2023 09:27 PM      0 Comments
Delhi High Court Rejects Contempt Plea by Bennett Coleman Group Against Arnab Goswami's 'Nation Wants to Know' Tagline

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to consider a contempt application filed by the Bennett Coleman Group against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami of use of tagline 'Nation wants to know'.

A bench of Justice C Hari Shankar said that the use of tagline was apparently within the limits prescribed by the order of October 23, 2022.The Times group filed an application under Order 39 Rule 2A seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against ARG Outlier Media Private Limited and its directors.

On October 23, 2020, while hearing a suit for injunction, the HC had refused to pass an interim order against usage of the tagline.

The court had however, directed Republic TV and Goswami to maintain accounts of usage of the tagline in case it is used as a trade mark in relation to goods/services, and file the same by way of an affidavit once every six months. In its contempt application, the BCCL alleged violation of the previous order. It was argued on behalf of BCCL that the defendants were using the tagline.

Senior Advocate Malvika Trivedi, on behalf of the defendants, submitted that the order dated 23 October 2020 recorded that the Defendants were permitted to use the tagline as part of speech/presentation of news etc. It was further submitted that similar screenshots as relied upon by the plaintiff in their contempt application were placed before the court earlier at the time of hearing the injunction application also.

However, the court had taken a view that whether or not the said tagline is a trade mark can only be determined after leading detailed evidence.

It was therefore submitted that there is no wilful disobedience of the order dated 23 October 2020, and that there was no occasion to filed the affidavit as contemplated in the order dated 23.10.2022 since the tagline was only being used as part of presentation of news and not as trademark in relation to goods/ services.

The court after noting the said submissions observed that for an act to be a ‘contempt’, three ingredients must be fulfilled: (i) there should be some direction from the court, (ii) there should be disobedience towards that direction and (iii) the disobedience should be wilful in nature.

However, in the instant case, the first requirement itself is not being met since the court allowed the defendants to use the tagline for “speech/presentation of any news channel, etc.”.

Here, emphasis was placed by the court on the term “etc" to interpret that the list of instances allowed are not exhaustive in nature, according to a statement.

The bench further noted that while hearing an application under Order 39 Rule 2A, the court cannot determine whether usage of the tagline is a trade mark infringement or not and only has to examine whether there has been any violation of the order.

Therefore, the court held that there is no case of contempt since the defendants had, prima facie, used the tagline in permissible limits as mentioned in the order dated 23 October 2020.

In view of the observations made by the court, BCCL requested to withdraw its application and subsequently, the contempt application was disposed of.

The BCCL was represented by advocates Hemant Singh and Mamta Rani Jha. The defendants were represented by Malvika Trivedi, senior advocate and advocates Rahul Tyagi and Diya Dutta.



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