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Bombay HC proved that law must progress with changing social trends!

Bombay has yet again set a new fashion, but this time it's a judicial trend. Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay HC is the key player in this.

Bombay has yet again set a new fashion- but this time it's a judicial trend! Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court is the key player in this. Already famous for his out-of-the-box judgments, Justice Patel has set a new precedent recently.

A copyright infringement suit against the producers of the Kannada movie ‘Pushpaka Vimana’ released in 2017 was filed at the Bombay High Court. The plaintiffs did everything virtually possible to serve summons on the defendants, but every effort proved to be futile.

Finally, they were able to find the mobile number of one of the producers – confirmed to be his by the TrueCaller app – and sent him the summons via WhatsApp. The producer- defendant received the same and replied, ‘I dint understand anything. Will check with my legal team and I’ll text you back. I am out of station.’ (sic) The defendants were also summoned through emails.

Justice Patel noted in his order dated March 23,

“I do not see what more can be done for the purposes of this Motion. It cannot be that our rules and procedure are either so ancient or so rigid (or both) that without some antiquated formal service mode through a bailiff or even by beat of drum or pattaki, a party cannot be said to have been ‘properly’ served.

The purpose of service is put the other party to notice and to give him a copy of the papers. The mode is surely irrelevant. We have not formally approved of email and other modes as acceptable simply because there are inherent limitation to proving service. Where an alternative mode is used, however, and service is shown to be effected, and is acknowledged, then surely it cannot be suggested that the Defendants had ‘no notice’…

…Defendants who avoid and evade service by regular modes cannot be permitted to take advantage of that evasion.”

He went on to show how indispensable presence of technology could be used to hamper the attempts at avoiding court summons.

“If Vikhyat and Krishna (the producers) believe they can resort to these tactics to avoid service, they are wrong. They may succeed in avoiding a bailiff. They may be able to avoid a courier or a postman. They have reckoned without the invasiveness of information technology. Vikhyat, in particular, does not seem to have cottoned on to the fact that when somebody calls him and he responds, details can be obtained from in-phone apps and services, and these are very hard to either obscure or disguise.”

However, even after employing extraordinary attempts to reach out to them, the defendants did not pay heed to the notice of motion and failed to appear in court.

The case was, as contended by the petitioners – represented by Dr. Birendra Saraf who was briefed by TRA and Ankita Singh of A&P Partners, that the Kannada movie was a copy of the Korean film titled ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’, released in 2013.

Justice Patel agreed with the averments made by the petitioners that Pushpaka Vimana was “a colourable imitation of the Korean original”, based on fifteen instances set out in the plaint. Consequently, he granted a temporary relief to the petitioners through an interim stay on exhibition, distribution and telecast of the Kannada movie.

The case was listed for hearing twice in April, but no further orders have been published on the Bombay High Court website.

Nevertheless, what remains to be seen is whether Justice Patel’s approach towards changing the law with changing social trends will be followed by other judges or not.

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Published on 27-Apr-17

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