The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant any interim relief to MSM Satellite, Singapore, which owns Sony Television Network, in connection with the row over the broadcasting rights of 2009 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The court order means that the BCCI is now free to go ahead with the Media Rights License Agreement (MRLA) signed with World Sports Group of Mauritius (WSGM).
A single judge bench of Justice SJ Kathawala refused interim relief primarily because the Singapore-based broadcast company did not implead WSGM as party respondent to the court proceedings even though all the reliefs were directed against WSGM, the company which has replaced Sony as broadcaster of the IPL series.
Sony had moved the high court after BCCI terminated its January 2008 contract on March 14, 2009, and entered into a fresh contract with WSGM for the coming IPL season the very next day (March 15). Sony's contention was that BCCI's termination notice was "effectively" received by the Singapore-based company on March 16, 2009 but before that the cricket board had entered into fresh agreement with WSGM.
Sony had, therefore, sought an interim order from the court restraining BCCI from acting on the MRLA signed with WSGM.
Sony's counsel Iqbal Chagla had submitted that the BCCI had accepted a bank guarantee of Rs. 220 crores and Rs. 90 crore towards invoice for the coming IPL season.
However, the court accepted rival contention put forth by BCCI counsel Virag Tulzapurkar that, "the acceptance of the bank guarantee and the payment would not amount to waiver or estoppel towards alleged breaches of contract terms."
The court further observed that even if it is accepted that the notice of termination issued by BCCI to Sony's parent company was effectively received on March 16, the fact remains that MRLA was signed between BCCI and WSGM, and transfer or vesting of all the rights was complete and absolute and legal rights were already accrued in favour of WSGM before that.
Justice Kathawala also accepted BCCI's contention that everything to be done under the agreement between BCCI and WSGM was over by the time Sony moved court and nothing remained to be done. The court noted that in such a situation Sony's parent company was not entitled to any relief in absence of the affecting party — WSGM.The matter is now posted for hearing on March 30, 2009.