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Explained: SC Sets Aside Order Asking YRF to Pay For Song Exclusion in SRK's Fan

The SC has set aside an NCDRC order which required YRF to pay Rs 15,000 as compensation in the case.

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The Supreme Court has overturned a 2020 order by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) that held Yash Raj Films liable to pay Rs 10,000 plus litigation costs to a consumer who was upset by the absence of the promotional track 'Jabra Fan' in the 2016 Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Fan.

What does Supreme Court's new judgement say? Who was the complainant? And what had NCDRC ruled earlier? We explain:

Explained: SC Sets Aside Order Asking YRF to Pay For Song Exclusion in SRK's Fan

  1. 1. The 2016 Complaint Against 'Fan'

    In 2016, complainant Afreen Fatima Zaidi went to watch SRK's Fan with her family after listening to the track 'Jabra Fan', which was part of the film's official trailer. However, Zaidi complained that she felt deceived when she didn't find the song in the movie.

    • In 2016, the district consumer redressal forum rejected Zaidi's complaint.

    • However, the state commission ordered YRF to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 as litigation costs to Zaidi in 2017.

    • Later, the film's production house YRF challenged the decision in the NCDRC.

    During the hearing, advocate Naomi Chandra, representing YRF, highlighted how it's a common industry practice of using songs in trailers that don't necessarily have to feature in films.

    However, the Supreme Court ruled that common industry practice doesn't imply continued practice. The court also questioned whether a film producer can be considered a service provider and whether Zaidi can be treated as a consumer in the first place.

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  2. 2. NCDRC's 2020 Judgment

    In February 2020, the NCDRC upheld the state commission’s order. It further ruled in its decision that a song included in a film's promotional video but excluded during its exhibition, is an 'unfair trade practice.'

    Rejecting YRF's contention, the commission had said, “Though it is claimed that the producer and actor of the movie had declared publicly that the song which forms part of the promo would not be a part of the movie, the said disclosure, even if it was made, would not be sufficient since it is not necessary that a person who watches the promo containing the song would also happen to see the interview given by the actor/producer of the movie.”

    The NCDRC also expressed its confusion over why the song was included in the film's trailer but not in the theatrical version of the film, unless the producer intended to deceive the audience into believing the song was part of the movie.

    In its appeal filed at the NCDRC, YRF argued that the woman cannot be considered a consumer as the price for film tickets is a deal between her and the cinema hall.

    However, the NCDRC stated that consideration flows towards the producer, even through an intermediary, making it a service provider.

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  3. 3. SC Rules in Favour of YRF

    Recently, a bench of Justices PS Narsimha and Aravind Kumar ruled in favour of YRF and their stance on the case.

    The court examined the legal implications of promotional activities, whether they establish a contractual relationship between consumers and service providers, and if content removal from promotions entitles someone to compensation.

    As per a report by Bar and Bench, the Supreme Court said, “We have formulated as to what are the implications of a promo song and trailer, and the contractual obligations thereto. We have allowed the appeal."

    Earlier in September 2021, the apex court had stayed the NCDRC's order, issuing notices to the Central Board of Film Certification and the complainant, following YRF's appeal against the decision.

    (With inputs from Live Law, Bar and Bench, and The Business Standard)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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The 2016 Complaint Against 'Fan'

In 2016, complainant Afreen Fatima Zaidi went to watch SRK's Fan with her family after listening to the track 'Jabra Fan', which was part of the film's official trailer. However, Zaidi complained that she felt deceived when she didn't find the song in the movie.

  • In 2016, the district consumer redressal forum rejected Zaidi's complaint.

  • However, the state commission ordered YRF to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 as litigation costs to Zaidi in 2017.

  • Later, the film's production house YRF challenged the decision in the NCDRC.

During the hearing, advocate Naomi Chandra, representing YRF, highlighted how it's a common industry practice of using songs in trailers that don't necessarily have to feature in films.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that common industry practice doesn't imply continued practice. The court also questioned whether a film producer can be considered a service provider and whether Zaidi can be treated as a consumer in the first place.

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NCDRC's 2020 Judgment

In February 2020, the NCDRC upheld the state commission’s order. It further ruled in its decision that a song included in a film's promotional video but excluded during its exhibition, is an 'unfair trade practice.'

Rejecting YRF's contention, the commission had said, “Though it is claimed that the producer and actor of the movie had declared publicly that the song which forms part of the promo would not be a part of the movie, the said disclosure, even if it was made, would not be sufficient since it is not necessary that a person who watches the promo containing the song would also happen to see the interview given by the actor/producer of the movie.”

The NCDRC also expressed its confusion over why the song was included in the film's trailer but not in the theatrical version of the film, unless the producer intended to deceive the audience into believing the song was part of the movie.

In its appeal filed at the NCDRC, YRF argued that the woman cannot be considered a consumer as the price for film tickets is a deal between her and the cinema hall.

However, the NCDRC stated that consideration flows towards the producer, even through an intermediary, making it a service provider.

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SC Rules in Favour of YRF

Recently, a bench of Justices PS Narsimha and Aravind Kumar ruled in favour of YRF and their stance on the case.

The court examined the legal implications of promotional activities, whether they establish a contractual relationship between consumers and service providers, and if content removal from promotions entitles someone to compensation.

As per a report by Bar and Bench, the Supreme Court said, “We have formulated as to what are the implications of a promo song and trailer, and the contractual obligations thereto. We have allowed the appeal."

Earlier in September 2021, the apex court had stayed the NCDRC's order, issuing notices to the Central Board of Film Certification and the complainant, following YRF's appeal against the decision.

(With inputs from Live Law, Bar and Bench, and The Business Standard)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Shah Rukh Khan   Fan Movie 

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