Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision: Yash Raj Films Exonerated in ‘Fan’ Song Controversy

In a precedent-setting verdict, the Supreme Court quashed the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission’s (NCDRC) penalty imposed on Yash Raj Films (YRF) concerning the exclusion of a song from the 2016 blockbuster ‘Fan’, starring Shah Rukh Khan. The decision, delivered by Justices PS Narasimha and Aravind Kumar, marks a pivotal moment in the intersection of promotional materials and contractual obligations in the film industry.

The crux of the matter revolved around whether the pre-release promotional content, including trailers and teasers, engendered a contractual commitment and if it constituted an unfair trade practice to omit advertised material from the final product. Justice Narasimha’s pronouncement articulated the bench’s resolution of these contentious issues, promising a detailed judgment to follow.

YRF’s appeal challenged the NCDRC’s affirmation of a 2017 directive mandating compensation of โ‚น10,000 to the complainant, Afreen Fatima Zaidi, along with litigation expenses totaling โ‚น5,000. Although the court stayed the NCDRC’s order in 2021, it reserved judgment on other facets of the case.

In her consumer complaint, Zaidi lamented the absence of the song ‘Jabra Fan’ from the movie, attributing her children’s distress during the screening to this omission, which allegedly led to health complications. YRF countered these claims, asserting that the NCDRC’s ruling encroached upon its constitutional rights under Article 19(1)(g), impeding its professional autonomy.

This landmark decision not only vindicates YRF but also sets a precedent for the film industry, clarifying the legal ramifications of promotional content and the boundaries of consumer expectations. As the saga concludes, it leaves behind a nuanced understanding of the dynamics between filmmakers, audiences, and the legal framework that governs their interactions.

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