SC orders Star India to pay damages for 'unfair' KBC

SC sets aside order asking Star India to pay damages for 'unfair' Kaun Banega Crorepati contest

The court said the finding of the commission of an “unfair trade practice” on this basis was liable to be set aside.

The Supreme Court has set aside a direction by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to the Star India (Pvt) Ltd, to pay damages of Rs one crore to a consumers group for alleged unfair trade practices for "deceptively" recovering the prize money for 'Har Seat Hot Seat' in television series 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' contest in 2007.

A bench of Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and R Subhash Reddy termed the direction as “bad in law”, saying the complainant, 'Society of Catalysts', failed to prove that the prize money was recovered in the guise of increased SMS rates charged to the participants.

The court rejected the contention that prize money of Rs two lakh to winner was paid out of SMS revenue, though the contest was advertised as without any entry fee.

“There is no basis to conclude that the prize money for the HSHS contest was paid directly out of the SMS revenue earned by Airtel, or that Airtel and Star India had colluded to increase the SMS rates so as to finance the prize money and share the SMS revenue," the bench said.

The court said the finding of the commission of an “unfair trade practice” on this basis was liable to be set aside.

In the contest, the winner for each episode was randomly selected out of the persons who had sent in the correct answers, and awarded the prize money. Participants in the contest were required to pay Rs 2.40 per SMS message to Airtel, which was higher than the normal rate for SMSes.