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Monday, December 06, 2021

Bombay HC sets aside single-judge bench order restraining sale, circulation of Vijaypat Singhania’s autobiography

Vijaypat Singhania is embroiled in a legal battle with his estranged son Gautam Singhania and Raymond Ltd over the release of the book for over three years.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: November 10, 2021 11:17:32 pm
The Court further granted liberty to the parties to move a single-judge sitting during vacation to "renew the application afresh which will be decided on its own merits without being influenced by what is stated in this order." (File)

The Bombay High Court’s division bench on Wednesday set aside an order of its single judge bench, which had restrained the publishers and distributors of ‘An Incomplete Life’ – the autobiography of former chairman emeritus of Raymond Group and aviator Vijaypat Singhania – from printing, selling and circulating it till further orders.

Vijaypat is embroiled in a legal battle with his estranged son Gautam Singhania and Raymond Limited over the release of the book for over three years.

A vacation bench comprising Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Abhay Ahuja on Wednesday was hearing an appeal filed by publishers Pan Macmillan Publishers India Private Limited – through advocates Siddhesh Bhole and Yakshay Chheda – challenging the November 4 order of Justice Surendra P Tavade that granted relief to Raymond.

Raymond Group Chairman and Managing Director Gautam Singhania, in September 2018, had filed a suit in Thane civil court against Vijaypat and earlier publishers, seeking injunction against the then proposed book claiming its contents were defamatory. Raymond had also claimed that the then book had infringed company’s right to privacy and violated registered trademark ‘The Complete Man’ by giving the then autobiography the title ‘The Incomplete Man’.

In April 2019, the Thane court had granted injunction on the release of the book and the injunction continued. Raymond moved HC with a contempt petition claiming that Vijaypat had “surreptitiously” released the 232-page book on October 31.

Justice Surendra P Tavade, in his November 4 order, had noted it appeared that Vijaypat had published ‘An Incomplete Life” in spite of the injunction order and stopping its sale and distribution was required.

Pan Macmillan’s appeal stated that the order failed to appreciate that the book in relation to which Raymond had sought injunction before Thane court is a different version than the one published by the present appellant and carries a different title. It added that the order had restrained Macmillan Publishers, which is a distinct legal entity from Pan Macmillan – the actual publisher of the book.

“We are of the view that single judge has passed the impugned order under an erroneous impression that the district court at Thane has passed the order dated April 22, 2019 granting stay/interim order against the erstwhile publisher from publishing the book ‘Incomplete Life’ was to continue until the pendency of the appeal filed by the respondent Raymond Ltd,” the division bench observed.

It granted liberty to the parties to move a single judge to “renew the application afresh”. Following this, Raymond mentioned the plea before the single judge bench of Justice Madhav J Jamdar, who will hear the same on Thursday.

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