Ground of Action To A Claimant To File A Case Accrues When A Strong and Unequivocal Risk To Infringe A Right Is There: SC. Case: M/S. ZEE TELEFILMS LTD. V. SURESH PRODUCTIONS & ORS. - Synopsis
Abhishek Rathee 4 Mar 2020

The Supreme Court has noted that a complainant's cause of action for bringing a complaint rises when there is a clear and unambiguous possibility of breaching a right.

Accordingly, the Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha observed while upholding a judgment of the High Court which held that the action filed by the plaintiffs against Zee Telefilms Ltd. and others was not barred by limitation.

In this case, on 23.12.1994 the plaintiffs, who carried on the business of making, distributing and exhibiting cinematographic films, granted for a span of nine years to four persons nominated by a defendant satellite broadcasting rights of 16 Hindi films.In 2003, the complainants filed a lawsuit demanding a declaration that the defendants had no right, title and interest in the copyright with respect to the films planned, and also a permanent injunction against the defendants.

Although rejecting the suit on the grounds of limitation, the Trial Court observed that the reason for bringing the suit emerged in the year 1995 itself when the plaintiff became aware of the first defendant's allegations over the films in question and they decided to report to the police on the agreement of 10.10.1994.The Trial Court considers all other matters in favor of the Plaintiffs.

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.”


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