K’taka HC sets aside lower court order on INC Twitter handles


PTI, Nov 8, 2022, 8:00 PM IST

Bengaluru: A division bench of the High Court of Karnataka has set aside an order of a designated economic court that ordered blocking of @INCIndia and @BharatJodo Twitter handles calling it “punitive action.” The order is subject to the Congress party removing the offending content before noon on Wednesday.

The Congress agreed to remove the 45-second clip that used the copyrighted song before noon on Wednesday from all its social media accounts.

The HC ordered the party to provide screenshots of the Twitter handle and the other social media accounts before the contentious material was removed. The HC ordered, “We are of the opinion that prayer deserves to be allowed to set aside impugned order, subject to appellant taking down offending material.” The lower court had given the order on Monday in a suit filed by MRT Studios which claimed 45 seconds of its copyrighted music from ‘KGF Chapter 2’ movie was used in a ‘Bharat Jodo’ song by the Congress party.

The Division bench of Justices G Narendar and Justice PN Desai heard the petition by the Congress in an emergency hearing on Tuesday evening. Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi argued the case for the party challenging the lower court’s Monday order.

Allowing the appeal, the HC said, “Appeal is allowed in part, subject to appellants (INC) removing it from their social media accounts. This order shall not come in the way of the plaintiff making any request to court to protect their copyrights.” Before that the senior advocate in his arguments pointed out that the Commercial Court had no urgent reason to pass the interim order and unless it is stayed Twitter would take down the party’s accounts. He submitted that the party was ready to take down the 45 seconds of the alleged clip which infringed on MRT’s copyright. To block Twitter accounts for the 45-second clip has ulterior motives, he told the court.

“Blocking Twitter handles will not help the respondents unless they have any ulterior motive,” he told the court.

The alleged infringed music clip was on the Twitter handle from October itself but the copyright owner filed the petition on November 2 which was heard on November 5 and the lower court gave the order on November 7. An ex-parte injunction was passed without issuing notice or recording reasons, he told the division bench.

The senior advocate also saw “ulterior motive,” in the action taken in the suit. “There is no commercial purpose in using the audio clip. A disproportionate order could not be passed by blocking the national party accounts and affecting my freedom of expression, even when the Bharat Jodo yatra is ongoing,” he claimed

The advocate for MRT Studios also made the submissions contending that the blocking order was right.

The HC however, noted that the Congress was agreeing that it had breached the copyright and was ready to remove the content from its Twitter handles and not to use it. “It is punitive action,” the HC said

The court said that appointment of a Commissioner to investigate the issue by the lower court was a premature act. “Once the mistake is admitted, where is the question of investigation into it? If you have filed an FIR, where is the question of appointing a technical expert as commissioner? You want the Commissioner to do the police’s job?,” the HC said.

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