The Supreme Court has observed that cause of action to a plaintiff to file a suit accrues when there is a clear and unequivocal threat to infringe a right.
The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha observed thus while upholding a High Court judgment which held that the suit filed by Plaintiffs against Zee Telefilms Ltd. and others was not barred by limitation.
In this case, the plaintiffs, who have been carrying on business of producing, distributing and exhibiting cinematographic films, on 23.12.1994 assigned to four persons nominated by a defendant satellite broadcasting rights of 16 Hindi films for a period of 9 years. Plaintiffs filed a suit in 2003 seeking a declaration that defendants have no manner of right, title and interest in the Copyright in respect of the scheduled films, and also a perpetual injunction against defendants.
While dismissing the Suit on the ground of limitation, the Trial Court observed that the cause of action for filing the suit arose in the year 1995 itself when the plaintiff got knowledge of the claims of the first defendant over the given films and they have chosen to give report to the police in respect of the agreement dated 10.10.1994. All other issues were found in favour of the Plaintiffs by the Trial Court.
Upholding the High Court judgment which reversed the findings of Trial Court on the issue of limitation, the bench, referring to Daya Singh and another vs. Gurdev Singh (Dead), (2010) 2 SCC 194, said:
Cause of action to a plaintiff to file a suit accrues when there is a clear and unequivocal threat to infringe a right. The plaintiff having already assigned their right for a period of 9 years by assignment deed dated 23.12.1994, there was no cause of action during the aforesaid period of 9 years. When the plaintiffs had already parted with their right of telecasting films on 23.12.1994 there could not have been any threat to their right in the year 1995.
Case name: ZEE TELEFILMS LTD vs. SURESH PRODUCTIONS Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.1716 OF 2020 Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and Navin SinhaCounsel: Advocates Sridhar Potaraju and T. Raghuram
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