The Delhi High Court on Friday passed an interim order restraining infringement of the personality rights of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. Safir Anand, whose law firm Anand and Anand said that judgements of this nature are critical in ensuring the menace of any third-party misuse is controlled. Anand is a senior partner at law firm Anand and Anand.
“Mr. Bachchan is undoubtedly a larger-than-life personality and over time, there has been gross misuse of his personality, voice, image as also characteristics. No third person has the right to commercially exploit his personality, name, image, voice, likeness and other unique characteristics other than him. One of the triggers for this suit was a lottery scam which was utilising Mr. Bachchan’s name,” Anand told Fortune India.
On Friday, a single bench led by Justice Navin Chawla said that the defendants were using his celebrity status to promote their own goods and services without the Bollywood superstar’s authorisation.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, along with advocates Ameet Naik, Pravin Anand and Madhu Gadodia are representing Bachchan in the case. Salve cited several examples where persons at large have used Bachchan’s images and voice including t-shirts that have the veteran actor’s image, and a registered domain name, amitabhbachchan.com, without permission.
“The importance of protecting celebrity rights or the rights associated with a celebrity owing to their well-known status has been growing in India. The legal position of celebrity rights is based on precedents and a combination of remedies available as per existing statutes. This order in favour of Mr Bachchan is a welcome move in recognising and controlling unlawful exploitation of the uniqueness and persona developed and loved by fans of the celebrities the world over.” Anand said.
In a statement, Justice Chawla said, “It cannot seriously be disputed that the plaintiff is a well-known personality and is also represented in various advertisements. The plaintiff is aggrieved by the defendants using his celebrity status to promote their own goods and services without his permission or authorisation. Having considered the plaint, I am of the opinion that a prima facie case is made out and balance of convenience also lies in his favour."
Moreover, the high court has also directed the department of telecommunications, and the union ministry of electronics and information technology to take down a number of links and websites that unlawfully infringes on the personality rights of the Bollywood icon.
The next hearing on the case will be in March next year.