India: Delhi High Court Rules: Intention Behind The Assignment To Be Perceived

Last Updated: 17 December 2008

Deciding the case of M/s International Film Distributors v. Sh. Rishi Raj [FAO (OS) No.81/2002] the Court opining on the relevance and ambit of an assignment stated:

"It is common knowledge that with the passage of time the television rights have assumed great importance. Whenever an agreement therefore has been arrived at the intention of the parties cannot be lost sight of. The intention of the parties will spell as to what exactly was agreed and intended
to be performed by the parties."

The appeal being decided upon was directed against the order passed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court of Delhi seeking return of the plaint as under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure and a prayer under Order 7 Rule 10 of seeking injunction restraining M/s International Film Distributors, its employees, agents and representatives from in any manner interfering in the negative rights, sole and exclusive commercial and non-commercial video rights in all formats, including VCD, DVD, satellite and television rights (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial), cable T.V. rights, pay T.V. rights and the available theatrical rights for all India and overseas territories i.e. the entire world including India, in the picture "KOHINOOR" till the disposal of the suit has been allowed. Mr. Rishi Raj is involved in the business of film distribution, exhibition and exploitation of cinematographic films and is also dealing in satellite right and negative rights of cinematograph films.

Cinematographic film 'KOHINOOR' was produced by M/s Republic Films Corporation, whose producer was declared insolvent and all of whose assets were taken over by the Official Assignee of Bombay High Court, including the entire negative rights in KOHINOOR as well as sole and exclusive commercial and non-commercial video rights in all the formats. The theatrical rights for All India and overseas territories i.e. the entire world including India were vested with the Official Assignee of the Bombay High Court.

M/s A.G. Exports, who were already enjoying the rights of the movie made an offer of Rs. 75,000/- on to the Official Assignee to acquire the sole and exclusive rights for a further period of 10 years. The Official Assignee made a similar offer to various people including Sh. Rishi Raj vide a letter that stated that the distribution rights of the said picture are perpetually held by another party (M/s Seth and Sayyed for U.P., Delhi, East Punjab, CPCI, Nizam Circuit) under an agreement and hence only other rights were available with the Official Assignee for sale. In response, Rishi Raj made an offer of Rs. 2 Lakhs and consequently made the highest bid to acquire the rights under an assignment. The plaint averred that after the grant of the said rights, Mr. Rishi Raj was entitled to deal with the picture Kohinoor in respect of the said rights and that nobody else could interfere in the said rights.

It was averred that prior to the said agreement Mr. Rishi Raj received a letter from International Films stating that they have also held certain rights in the said film, but did not enclose a copy of any agreement to the letter. In reply Rishi Raj conveyed that International Film had no right nor had their name ever appeared in the notice of auction along with other right holders. Therein they were also called upon them to produce a copy of the agreement, which International Film produced. The agreement held the signatures of International Films as well as that of the movie's producer asserting them to be right holders for overseas excluding India, Burma, Pakistan, Ceylon, Aden, Continent of Africa, Complete Middle East, West Indies, Fiji UK, and Greece and propounded an agreement with M/s. Republic Films Corporation to be existent.

Further, it was noted that when the said agreement was executed there were no satellite rights or video rights and thus International Film could not allege that they were video rights and satellite right holders. It was argued that International Film had no right to interfere in the issue but despite that they had been interfering by writing letters to leading satellite channels as a result of which Rishi Raj was not able to enjoy such rights. The Court noted that as per the allegation, though it is not recorded by the Official Assignee, International Film had only theatrical distribution right over certain overseas countries and thus could not claim any right in satellite channels. It was also argued that International Film had no authority to interfere in the said right as it would mean that Mr. Rishi Raj had paid the money but acquired nothing in return.

International Films alleged that Rishi Raj was carrying on the business of exploitation, exhibition and distribution of Hindi feature films throughout the world and through two agreements, the producer of the feature film Kohinoor granted to International Films the sole, exclusive and proprietary copyrights for exploitation, distribution and exhibition of commercial as well as non-commercial rights.

The Court emphasized the main questions to be centered on territorial jurisdiction and International Film' right in the picture Kohinoor. Considering the question of territorial jurisdiction, the Court took note of the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 as also those in the Copyright Act, 1957. The Court herein agreed with the single Judge and affirmed that the Hon'ble Court in question did possess territorial jurisdiction, in view of the place where the party resided and the cause of action having arisen..

As regards the copyright vesting in International Films, the Court found the agreement to reveal that M/s. Republic Film Corporation had assigned rights in favour of International Films for a consideration of Rs.10,000/-. Examining the clauses that followed, the Court found no infirmity in the prima facie opinion expressed by the learned single Judge that the phraseology 'all other rights attached to such exploitation' cannot be read to mean that the other rights referred only to television rights and that the
clause referred to Rishi Raj as the sole exclusive and perpetual copyright holder for exploitation of the films in question. Thus, it was concluded that the agreement executed would take effect in satellite telecast of the said film as well.

Taking into account the view elucidated in a number of decisions, the Court stated that a restrictive view could not be imposed on the enjoyment of copyright which is vested with the earlier exclusive as a fall out of technological evolution. The Court viewed that prima facie International Film had acquired the rights in the year 1961 by virtue of the agreement prior in time the rights acquired by the plaintiff. The acquisition of rights by Sh. Rishi Raj vide the Official Assignee was not denied and the rights accruing thereon were said to be conditional and not exclusive; International Film asserting its rights in a limited manner only i.e. for overseas countries as described in the agreement. The Court upheld the interim order in respect of other countries of the world including India to continue till the final disposal of the suit.

© Lex Orbis 2008

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions