The Delhi High court has set aside an earlier order,which had banned cricket score updates/match alerts by websites via text messages and other service providers who had not purchased the license from broadcast rights owner Star India Private Limited.
The court also cautioned that the judiciary should be careful while interpreting legal provisions that would potentially restrict the freedom of speech and expression granted by the Constitution of India.
Star India Pvt. Ltd had in march this year obtained an injunction order from a single bench of the Delhi High court against Cricbuzz,Idea Cellular and OnMobile,claiming that they had violated the exclusive telecast rights that Star had purchased from BCCI by giving SMS alerts and updates of cricket matches.
Star had claimed to have spent Rs 3,581cr. to acquire these rights,through the Media Rights Agreement. BCCI and Star had also claimed that since SMS users were receiving the SMS alerts,they were eating away into the mobile and internet rights acquired by Star and therefore violated the doctrine of unfair competition under the Copyright law.
Idea,Cricbuzz and OnMobile had filed an appeal against the stay order,claiming that the SMS alerts were merely a dissemination of news and did not infringe on the rights of the broadcasters. They also argued that the stay order violated the constitutional right to free speech and information under Article 19 because it stopped the free flow of information,which was already in the public domain.
In a judgment pronounced on Friday,the High court Bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Najmi Waziri set aside the single bench order for injunction,stating that the courts must be cautious in creating doctrines and rights that affect constitutional rights,and it would be better if such matters were left to the law-making domain of the legislative branch.
“Doing what the plaintiff invites this court to do would be to enclose from the public match facts and information which are not protectable in any manner known to law. Such an injunction would tend to insidiously,and in a creeping manner,denude the fundamental right to free speech and dissemination of topical information to members of the public.” said the court.
Advocate Saikrishna Rajagopal,who had represented Star India,told the India express that the broadcasters were studying the High court order and would consider approaching the Supreme court against it.
Bail order postponed
A Delhi court fixed September 5 for its order on the bail pleas of nine accused,including suspended cricketer Ajit Chandila,arrested in connection with the IPL spot-fixing scandal. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma,who was scheduled to pass the order on the bail pleas,deferred it for September 5 saying he needs some clarification from the Special Cell of Delhi Police as well as from the defence counsel.