Punjab and Haryana High Court: Arun Monga, J. allowed the petition where the petitioner prayed that the respondents must blur the name of the bank in their movie, as they had already done for the sponsored bank i.e. Punjab National Bank.

The petitioner, a Regional Rural Bank sponsored by Punjab National Bank, with 35% stakes therein, issued a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to not release a Punjabi Movie named “Daaka”. The ground on which they were seeking this relief was that the petitioner Bank was depicted in a poor and shabby condition which led to the plot of committing a robbery in the Bank in the movie.

The petitioner submitted that the material used in the film i.e. banners/posters/calendars were a verbatim copy of the originals which were actually used by the Bank. Even the uniform of the Security Guard shown in the movie was exactly the same. The name of the sponsored bank i.e. Punjab National Bank also finds mention below the name of the petitioner bank but that was intentionally blurred in the scenes. Whereas, the petitioner Bank which is an independent entity and has a reputation of its own and is operating through many as 416 branches in State of Punjab, would be adversarially effected qua its image with the rural population which has faith in the banking services being offered by it, in case its name is not blurred as has been done for Punjab National Bank. Blurring the name of Punjab National Bank was a clear pointer that the respondents were conscious that the actual name was not to be mentioned.

The Court stated that in the ordinary course, no interference would have been warranted in extraordinary writ jurisdiction vested under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. However, the respondents did not take permission from the Bank before actually displaying the name, logo, banners, and calendars in the movie. The Court relied on the Judgment rendered by Delhi High Court in ICICI Bank Ltd. v. Ashok Thakeria, 2013 (43) RCR (Civil) 828 where the Court observed that commercial disparagement of the services of an entity which adversely affects and tarnishes their goodwill, reputation and brand equity associated with the plaintiff’s well-known trademark should not be allowed.

In the present case, the name of the bank is exactly the same as in the movie and has been purportedly shown in a bad light in the movie. Therefore, the Court held that it would be equitable and in the interest of justice to direct the respondents herein to blur the name of the petitioner bank, as has been already done for the sponsored bank. [Punjab Gramin Bank v. Union of India,  2019 SCC OnLine P&H 2107, decided on 28-10-2019]

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