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December 10, 2020

Role Of Person In Affairs Of Accused Company Necessary For Criminal Prosecution For Copyright Offences

Author: Dishti Titus

In Kurichi Thangabalu Karthick and Ors. v. Raj Television Network Ltd. [Crl. O.P. No. 23077 of 2015, M.P. Nos. 1 and 2 of 2015], a Single Judge [P.N. Prakash, J.] of the High Court of Madras vide its order dated October 28, 2020, quashed prosecution against the petitioners – Kurichi Thangabalu Karthick (“Karthick”) and Kurichi Thangabalu Indra (“Indra”) in light of absence of detailed particulars on their role in the accused company.

The Respondent Raj Television Network Ltd. launched a prosecution against M/s Silver Star Communications Ltd. (“Silver Star”), Jayanthi Thangabalu (“Jayanthi”), Karthick and Indra claiming infringement of copyright in accordance with Section 51, 63, 66 and 69 of the Copyright Act, 1957 for broadcasting a film song from the Tamil feature film ‘Pandiya Nadu’ on their channel ‘Mega TV’  without obtaining any telecast rights or license. In its complaint the respondent submitted that Silver Star is the company of which Jayanthi, Karthick and Indra are directors and responsible for day to day affairs of the company and conducting its business.

The petitioners Karthick and Indra filed a quash petition claiming that the averments in the complaint were not sufficient to hold them vicariously liable under Section 69 of the Copyright Act, 1957. The petitioners also place reliance on the Hon’ble Super Court’s decision in Gunmala Sales Private Limited v. Anu Menta (2015) 1 SCC 103 to support the contention that in the absence of particulars about the role of a director in a company in excess of a basic averment, a court may quash the complaint.

The Court observed that “this Court is satisfied that in the absence of more particulars about the role of the petitioners in the affairs of the first accused company, the basic averment that the petitioners were responsible for the day to day affairs of the company and the conduct of the business of company, are themselves insufficient to uphold the prosecution against the petitioners.” and accordingly quashed the identified prosecution against the petitioners Karthick and Indra.

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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