Excellence is a skill personal to an individual, the Delhi High Court said while dismissing an application filed by a news channel asking that their news anchor be restrained from joining another channel as an anchor before her contract expires in November.
Independent News Service Private Limited (INSPL), which runs India TV, filed a petition for an interim injunction restraining their anchor Sucherita Kukreti from taking up “similar work” with any other television channel till her contract expires on November 30 this year.
INSPL also demanded over Rs 2 crore in damages from her.
In the application, the organisation said they had spent a large sum of money and resources in grooming the defendant, as well as building her image as one of the prominent faces of the news channel in the last 14 years.
Dismissing the application, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said, “Prima facie, it appears that the skill and excellence acquired by the defendant, and owing whereto the plaintiff does not want to let go of the defendant, is the personal acquisition of the defendant and the plaintiff cannot have proprietary rights or interest in such acquisition of excellence by the defendant, even if with the contribution from the plaintiff. Excellence is a skill which is personal to the defendant.”
Kukreti joined India TV on December 1, 2004, and has signed successive contracts of three years each with the organisation. INSPL also told the court that while they will not allow the defendant to present news on the channel, they will continue to pay the amount to her as agreed in the contract if she agrees to not be associated with another channel as a news presenter or face of the channel. Justice Endlaw, however, said that this would lead to “killing the goodwill acquired by the defendant”.
“Granting any interim injunction would amount to restraining the defendant from doing what she has been doing for the last 14 years and what she is best known to do and has skill to do. Ad-interim injunction if granted… would amount to killing the goodwill acquired by the defendant… and which loss cannot be monetarily compensated to the defendant…,” he said.
Commenting on the offer that Kukreti be engaged in “behind-the-scene activities”, Justice Endlaw said, “Benching a professional for as long as 10 to 11 months can be devastating, capable of inflicting permanent damage affecting mental and physical health and future prospects of a professional. This is more so in the case of newscasters/news presenter to whom the adage ‘out of sight out of mind’ would also apply.”
The next date of hearing is July 11.