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Nature and Scope of punishment under Order 39 Rule 2A CPC for breach of injunction order

This article explores the nature and scope of punishment under Order 39 Rule 2A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), in the context of a breach of an injunction order. The case study involves a dispute between a Plaintiff engaged in the entertainment industry and Defendant No. 6, a popular Bhojpuri artist, over allegations of breach of an exclusive content production agreement. The Plaintiff alleged contempt by Defendant No. 6 for violating an injunction order, which later led to complex legal proceedings and a re-evaluation of contempt under Order 39 Rule 2A CPC.

The Plaintiff, a business entity in the music and entertainment sector, and Defendant No. 6, Khesari Lal Yadav, a renowned Bhojpuri artist, entered into a Production Agreement on 27th May 2021, effective from 1st June 2021. This agreement granted the Plaintiff exclusive ownership of intellectual property rights in the content created by Defendant No. 6 during the agreement term, prohibiting him from engaging with third parties for similar content production.

Subsequently, the Plaintiff accused Defendant No. 6 of breaching this agreement by allowing third parties to promote and monetize content on YouTube. The Plaintiff sought and obtained an ex parte ad-interim injunction on 14th October 2022, restraining Defendant No. 6 from such activities. This injunction was vacated on 6th January 2023 but later reinstated with specific terms by a Division Bench on 5th September 2023.

Despite this, Defendant No. 6 accused the Plaintiff of contempt of court under Order 39 Rule 2A CPC and Section 151 CPC, alleging misrepresentation of the injunction terms to third parties, implying exclusive collaboration with the Plaintiff. On 21st February 2024, the court found prima facie contempt by the Plaintiff and directed them to issue clarificatory notices. The Plaintiff appealed, and the Division Bench remanded the case for further consideration.

The Hon'ble Single Judge determined that the Plaintiff's actions were not bona fide mistakes. The notices issued by the Plaintiff appeared to deliberately misrepresent the terms of the injunction, likely to enforce their interests more aggressively. However, recognizing the Plaintiff�s prompt corrective measures, including issuing clarificatory notices and filing a compliance affidavit, the court acknowledged the Plaintiff's efforts to rectify the mistake.

Legal Implications:
Order 39 Rule 2A CPC provides the court with the authority to punish for disobedience of injunction orders. This case highlights the complexity of interpreting and enforcing injunction orders and the potential for misuse of court orders by parties. The Plaintiff's corrective actions, though mitigating, do not negate the initial contemptuous behavior. This sets a precedent for how courts might handle similar cases where initial contempt is followed by good-faith corrective actions.

The court's rationale rested on distinguishing between a bona fide mistake and deliberate misrepresentation. The Plaintiff's initial actions were deemed contemptuous due to the likely intention behind the miscommunication. However, the prompt corrective measures taken by the Plaintiff influenced the court's decision to recall the restrictions imposed on the Plaintiff, highlighting the importance of subsequent conduct in contempt proceedings.

:Concluding Note
This case underscores the delicate balance courts must maintain in enforcing injunction orders and adjudicating contempt. While the Plaintiff�s initial miscommunication was contemptuous, their proactive correction demonstrated good faith, leading to a nuanced judicial approach that avoided punitive measures. The decision emphasizes the need for parties to act transparently and responsibly when under court injunctions and the court's role in ensuring compliance without undue harshness.

Case Title: Global Music Injunction Pvt. Ltd. Vs Annapurna Film Pvt. Ltd. and Ors
Order Date: 24.05.2024
Case No. CS(COMM) 715/2022
Neutral Citation:2024DHC:4263
Name of Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Sanjeev Narula. H.J.

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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