MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Monday, through an interim order, stayed an ongoing probe by Pune police against Sony Pictures in a case of alleged criminal defamation and copyright infringement in its 'Scam 1992' web series.
A bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar took note of the submission made by the Sony Pictures' counsel, senior advocate Shirish Gupte, that while as per law the investigation in a case of criminal defamation must be conducted by an officer of deputy superintendent-level, in the present case, an inspector was investigating the alleged offences.
Gupte further said there existed previous Supreme Court judgements, as per which a case of criminal defamation under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was not a cognisable offence and police need not register an FIR immediately after the receipt of a complaint.
Yet, the Pune police had registered an FIR and were investigating the case in breach of provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Sony Pictures Network India, that owns the SonyLIV app, approached the HC earlier this month, seeking to quash the FIR registered against it by the Pune police on a complaint by Karad Urban Co-operative Bank (KUCB) for offences of criminal defamation and trademark infringement.
As per the plea, the complaint had been filed by KUCB against unidentified persons, alleging that in one of the episodes of the series 'Scam 1992,' a logo similar to that of the complainant bank was displayed in the background and this caused serious damage to the bank's reputation.
In its plea, Sony Pictures said a disclaimer against all liabilities towards the aired content was published at the beginning of every episode of the series.
It also said the FIR was baseless and absurd.
On Monday, following advocate Gupte's submissions, the state government's counsel, Jayesh Yagnik, told the HC that the state had been made aware of the error in the ongoing investigation.
"We have told the officers concerned to correct the mistake. A deputy superintendent-level officer will begin the probe afresh," Yagnik said.
"At this stage it is not necessary to elaborate. It is sufficient to say that the investigation cannot go on further. Ad-interim relief in terms of stay on the investigation till next hearing," the HC said.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing on September 17.