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  • Ananya Jaiswal

Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. vs. Afreen Fatima Zaidi & Anr.

Ananya Jaiswal,

Banaras Hindu University

CITATION

[2024] 5 S.C.R. 143

PETITIONER

YASH RAJ FILMS PRIVATE LIMITED

RESPONDENT

AFREEN FATIMA ZAIDI & ANR.

BENCH

HON’BLE  MR.   JUSTICE  SRI   PAMIDIGHANTAM NARSIMHA

STATUTES INVOLVED

CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (68 OF 1996)

INTRODUCTION:

  • This case is concerned with whether there is a deficiency of service from the side of Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. or not while not including a song in the movie which is depicted in the trailer.

FACTS:

  • Afreen Fatima Zaidi, appellant is a teacher by profession. She went with her children to watch Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's film 'Fan' after seeing the trailer of the film which included the song 'Jabra Fan'. However, she claimed that she was disappointed that the song was not played in the film in the cinema.

  • She also claimed that her children did not eat anything the night they went to see the movie, which caused a sharp increase in their acidity and they were admitted to the hospital.

  • The complainant filed the first petition as a consumer in the district forum, demanding compensation in the form of a consumer complaint and an order to the petitioner to play the song and advertisements provided that the said song is omitted from the film. However, the regional forum rejected the application.

  • The complainant then submitted a statement to the State Commission. In 2019, the State Commission, under applicable sections of the Consumer Protection Act, ordered Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. to pay compensation of INR 10,000 to the complainant in addition to court costs of INR 5,000. In February 2020, Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. appealed the government's decision to a national forum.

ISSUES:

  1. Can the complainant be considered a consumer under Section 2 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act?

  2. Does the petitioner's omission of the song "Jabra Fan" from the film fall under unfair trade practices defined in Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act?

RATIO DECIDENDI:

  • Appellant Afreen Fatima Zaidi initiated the appeal in the District Forum against Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. as a consumer seeking redress in the form of a consumer complaint and directions to the petitioner Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd., presents the song "Jabra Fan" from the movie "Fan" starring Shah Rukh Khan. However, the district forum rejected the applicant's request.

  • The aggrieved complainant then appealed to the State Commission in the form of a complaint. The petitioner questioned the complaint and argued, inter alia, that the complainant cannot be considered a consumer. However, the State Commission ordered the petitioner to pay INR 10,000 as compensation and INR 5,000 as court costs.

  • The petitioner then challenged the State Commission's decision by appealing to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). A petition was submitted to the NCDRC to determine if the complainant, Afreen Fatima Zaidi, qualifies as a consumer under Section 2(1)(d) of the Consumer Act. The complainant had purchased tickets to watch the film "The Fan" from the cinema, thus confirming that she paid the required fee, albeit not directly to the petitioner, who is the film's producer. As the appellant paid for the movie tickets through the exhibitor, the ticket revenue, after tax deductions, was distributed among the exhibitor, the distributor, and the filmmaker.

  • Subsequently, this does not apply to the petitioner, who, according to him, did not receive part of the price of cinema tickets through the exhibitor or distributor of the said film. Therefore, it cannot be accepted that the appellant was not a consumer to the petitioner.

  • This petition also contests the omission of the song "Jabra Fan" from the theatrical release of "Fan," regardless of whether it was deemed an unfair trade practice under Section 2(1)(r) of the Consumer Protection Act. The filmmaker included the song "Jabra Fan" in the movie's commercials, leading viewers to expect that the song would be part of the film. Unless the trailer explicitly states that the song is not included, audiences will assume it is featured in the movie.

  • If someone enjoys a song featured in a movie commercial and decides to watch the movie based on that enjoyment, they will feel disappointed and deceived if the song isn't actually in the film. Including a promotional song in widely broadcast commercials and then removing it from the movie upon release is an unfair business practice. The clear motive behind this is to attract potential viewers to the cinema by appealing to them with a catchy promotional song. This tactic ensures profit from a large audience, even if the song they were drawn by is absent from the movie they paid to see.

  • The holdings of the Supreme Court clarifies that a contractual relationship is not created merely by watching the promotional video and if the content is not included in the movie then it does not amount to the deficiency of services and the petitioner is not liable to pay any compensation.

JUDGMENT:

  • The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) found no reason to interfere with the impugned order in exercise of the revised jurisdiction of the Commission. Accordingly, the appeal filed by Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. was dismissed. Therefore, Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. was ordered to pay INR 10,000 as compensation and INR 5,000 as costs to the complainant.

  • Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. appealed against the order of the NCDRC to the Supreme Court. The appeal was submitted to the composition of Justice V. Ramasubramanium and Justice Hemant Gupta. On 20 September 2021, the Supreme Court stayed the order of the NCDRC and issued a notice to Afreen Fatima Zaidi.

  • The Supreme Court clarifies that if the content of the trailer is not included in the movie than it will not be considered as deficiency in the services.

COMMENT:

  • The Consumer Protection Act 2019 stands as a crucial and effective tool for consumers seeking compensation and justice against unfair trade practices by manufacturers. However, if there are flaws in this system, judges may find it challenging to thoroughly investigate and make informed decisions on all cases. Hence, it is essential to highlight the initial issues raised by the complainant and those discussed during the hearing before the National Commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) and provide a clear explanation of these points.

  • The ruling by the National Commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) was warranted in this case as Afreen Fatima Zaidi, the complainant, was a consumer of Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd., the producers of the movie "fan". She purchased tickets to watch the film at the cinema. Once the tax is deducted from the ticket price, the remaining amount is split between the cinema (exhibitor) and the film's producer and distributor. Therefore, the appellant is considered an indirect consumer of the film's producer.

  • Moreover, the producer of the said film, Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd., were guilty of collusion within the meaning of Section 2 (1) (r) [6] of the Consumer Protection Act when they decided to omit the song "Jabra Song" from the actual film even though they performed the song in the film's promotional videos on broadcast channels and digital platforms.

  • The commercials of the film didn't even have a disclaimer about the song not being included in the actual film. It is clear that the logic and intentions of the producer's actions are clearly to lure viewers with movie advertisements that included the song and then deceive them by including it in the movie shown in theaters. Thus Yash Raj Films Pvt. Ltd. benefited from the space of spectators who paid the ticket price to watch the film in the theater hall without knowing that the song would not be presented in the film.

  • Therefore, the rationale of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) for not interfering with Yash Raj Pvt. Ltd. to the order of the national commission to pay INR 10,000 as compensation to the complainant Afreen Fatima Zaidi along with INR 5,000 as legal costs and leaving Yash Raj Films Pvt. the complaint filed was dismissed. Ltd. is relevant and properly justified until the Supreme Court, which has currently suspended the execution of the said order.

  • The clarification given by the Supreme Court justifies that a promotional trailer is not an offer so ultimately it cannot become a promise and a contract. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

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