Guest Post: Delhi HC issues yet another John Doe order to protect Speedy Singhs

Tania Sarcar our now regular guest blogger has sent us another post on a ‘John Doe’ order passed by the Delhi High Court to protect the Bollywood movie Speedy Singhs.

Delhi HC issues yet another John Doe order to protect Speedy Singhs

By, Tania Sarcar

Yet another John Doe order has been passed by the Delhi High Court, this time for the movie Speedy Singhs, starring Akshay Kumar. The producers of the movie moved the High Court for an injunction in order to pre-empt any copyright infringement.

The film’s producers have moved the HC against a few cable operators and against unknown defendants for a temporary and permanent injunction for any copyright infringement; hence the John Doe order.

The producers of the movie were represented before the Delhi HC by Naik & Naik convinced the Court to pass a ‘John Doe’ order passed against all the prospective defendants which includes unknown persons, “restraining them from in any way displaying, releasing, showing, uploading, downloading, exhibiting, playing, defraying the movie Speedy Singhs, without a proper licence from its producers. The order also restrains those who may wish to release or distribute the film without permission through CD, DVD, Blu-ray, VCD, Cable TV, DTH, internet, MMS, tapes, conditional access system or other media. The order is valid till December 19, 2011.”

‘John Doe Order’, as discussed earlier, is used to describe an injunction sought against a person whose identity is not known at the time of the issuance of the order. It thus enables an IP owner to serve the notice and take action at the same time against anyone who is found to be infringing the copyright of the movie. The order does not specify any one defendant in particular. It is meant for anyone who is likely to infringe the copyrights of a product. The name ‘John Doe’ is used as a placeholder in a legal action or case for any person whose true identity is unknown. This type of an order is quite rare in Indian courts and are mostly seen in the American and Canadian legal practice. However, recently the Delhi HC passed two other John Doe orders- in July 2011; the movie Singham and in August 2011, for the movie Bodyguard.

Thus, John Doe orders are becoming quite common in the film industry and seem an effective way to curb piracy. It however poses some difficulty for ISPs restricting them from file sharing.

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).


  1. Anonymous

    Kindly give the details of the suit, the date of the order etc.

    There is a different aspect of looking at the position. The plaintiffs in these kinds of cases where they seek the John Doe orders seek to gain a lot in the shape of saving the huge court fee apart from the legal fee.

    In fact a cause of action can be against a particular person. Accordingly a suit can be filed against the person against whom there is a cause of action. A same cause of action can be against more than one persons provided they are in any way connected with each other and are liable jointly and severally for the said cause of action. If they are not connected in any way, the plaintiff must file as many suits as there are parties for the cause of action as there would be different causes of actions against each defendant.

    It has been noticed that particularly in Delhi High Court, people file the suits joining many persons who have no connection with each other and thereby save the court fee.


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