Jio takes Indian Premier League battle to Supreme Court

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Reliance Industries have taken its Indian Premier League live streaming war with the Bharti Airtel to the Supreme Court of India.

Reliance Jio has filed a plea against the Delhi High Court order on the Bharti Airtel advertisement. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the matter on May 18, Friday.

The Delhi High Court on a Reliance Jio petition had asked the Bharti Airtel to make changes to its advertisements offering “live and free access” of the IPL 2018 coverage. The court had directed Airtel to carry a disclaimer in a large font size in an appropriate visible position on its all advertisement campaign, which claimed that IPL action is available “live and free” to the Airtel subscribers.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud has directed to “list (the matter) on May 18, 2018, before an appropriate Bench, as per roster”. Advocate KR Sasiprabhu had mentioned the matter before the Bench.

A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on May 10 had modified its single judge’s interim orders and questioned the maintainability of the suit filed by Reliance Jio alleging that Airtel’s advertisement was “deceptive and misleading”.

Reliance Jio had first moved the Delhi High Court against the Airtel campaign that the IPL matches are available to the Bharti-owned network’s subscriber “live and free”. Jio had prayed that the campaign is misleading as it did not mention that the subscribers watching the IPL on the network will have to pay the data charges.

Reliance Jio in its suit had claimed that the advertisements “falsely proclaim” that Airtel was offering “live and free” access to T20 cricket coverage and also “falsely represent that a subscriber need only obtain a 4G sim from the defendant company and download the Airtel TV app to obtain a virtual season pass, that is live and free access to T20 coverage”.

The single Judge in an interim order on April 13 had ordered Airtel to carry a disclaimer that the access to Star Sports live streaming platform Hotstar will be free, but charges shall apply for the consumption of data as per the plan.

The single judge on May 2 had further asked Airtel to use the font size of 12 points in print media and put the disclaimer in a prominent position on the advertisement.

The High Court Bench had allowed the first interim order of April 13 to continue to operate. The May 2 order had said, “So far as the video clips/television advertisements are concerned, the disclaimer should start running from the word the girl says ‘Seasonal Pass————-‘ and it should be displayed in sync with the voice over. The disclaimer in billboards and hoardings be also at prominent place.”

The High Court bench during the hearing had raised “grave doubts” on maintainability of the Reliance Jio suit.