Chennai, Mar 27: Madras High Court today disposed of writ appeals by Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Council permitting it to filing a Memorandum of compromise/settlement between them and producers of the film 'Viswaroopam' starring Kamal Hassan, before the Competition Commission of India, New Delhi.
A Division Bench comprising Justices V Ramasubramanian and P R Shivakumar, which disposed off appeals by the Council to set aside the August 16, 2013 order of a Single judge and proceedings before the CCI on another, seeking a direction to local police to act on a complaint by them.
However, the court made it clear that though there is a bar on jurisdiction of the civil courts in respect of the matter of CCI or its affiliate tribunals, the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 226 of the Constitution may not apply to it.
"Therefore, despite the fact that the oders of the CCI are subject to the appleate jurisdiction of the Commission, the jurisdiction of the High Court under Art 226 will not stand ousted," it said. Raaj Kamal Film International, who produced Vishwaroopam had filed a complaint before the CCI on January 8, 2013, alleging that Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association on Dec 20 2012 decided to ban its screening released via DTH.
The Producers claimed that this would be tantamount to an anti-competitive practice, violating Section 3(3)(b) of Competition Act, 2002. CCI on January 16, 2013 said that in terms of Section 26(1) of the Competition Act, 2002, there was a prima facie case requiring an investigation by its Director General.
Meanwhile, the commissioner of police, Chennai, also issued an order on January 23, 2013 under Sec 144 of CrPc, prohibiting the exhibition of the film. But it was later revoked on February 3.
However, DG of CCI issued a notice on April 1, asking Council to furnish some information as well as documents, following which the latter moved Madras High Court 16.01.2013 The Council also lodged a complaint on April 13 with the Commissioner of Police, alleging that the complaint by the Producers before CCI was on the basis of a forged document, namely the alleged resolution of Dec 20 2012.
It also filed another petition in Madras High Court seeking a direction to Commissioner of Police to take their complaint on record and initiate action against the Producers. The court on Aug 16, 2013 dismissed both petitions. The council then filed the present appeals.
The bench at the time of admission of these appeals, in an interim order permitted the DG to proceed with the investigation and finalise the same but directed CCI not to proceed with the matter without the leave of High Court.