The Supreme Court on Monday stayed an order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) directing Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd to pay Rs 10,000 along with litigation costs as compensation to a consumer being aggrieved by exclusion of the song in a Bollywood movie.
A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanium issued notices to the Central Board of Film Certification and the complainant, a teacher by profession.
What is the case about?
— Back in 2016, Afreen Fatima Zaidi, decided to watch with her family members Manish Sharma’s 2016 film Fan, starring Shah Rukh Khan.
— She based her decision on the film promo, including the song ‘Jabra Fan’ (music: Vishal-Shekhar; lyrics: Varun Grover; singer: Nakash Aziz).
— However, when she and her family watched the film, the song was missing from the film.
— Feeling cheated and deceived, the complainant approached the concerned District Forum by way of a consumer complaint seeking compensation.
— The complaint also included a direction to the petitioners to air the promos and song with a caveat that the said song was not included in the film.
How did the consumer body respond to her complaint?
— The complaint was dismissed by the District Forum
— Zaidi then approached the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra
— The state commission upheld her complaint, and asked YRF to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 as litigation costs.
— YRF challenged the order at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
— On 18 February, 2020, the NCDRC upheld the state commission’s order.
— The national consumer body agreed there was reason for Zaidi to feel “cheated".
— Furthermore, it dubbed YRF’s move of excluding the promo song from the film as an “unfair trade practice".
What’s the latest development?
— YRF appealed against the NCDRC’s order in the Supreme Court.
— The production house argued that it was “common practice" by the Indian film industry to use songs for promotion that may not feature in the film.
— It demanded a stay as the current outcome of the case would have “far-reaching consequences" in the film industry.
— SC said that while it may be a “common practice," that does not imply that it should be continued.
— However, it also put a stay on the NDCRC’s order, issuing a notice to Zaidi asking her to issue a “plausible explanation".
— The contention it had with the previous order was whether Zaidi can be treated as a consumer in the first place.
— In the appeal filed at the NCDRC, YRF had argued that the woman cannot be considered a consumer as the price she paid for film tickets is a deal between her and the cinema hall.
— However, since the price is shared among the producer, exhibitor, and distributor, the consideration does flow towards the producer, even if through an intermediary, so it can be considered a service provider, as stated by the NCDRC.
(With inputs from PTI)