A telecom company for which Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a brand ambassador, today accused him in Delhi High Court of “wilfully” misleading the court for creating “alarmist circumstances”.
The top officer of Maxx Mobilink Pvt Ltd, who has been accused by Dhoni of defying the High Court 2014 order that the company should not use his name to promote and sell its product, said it never indulged in misusing the name of the ODI captain to take any advantage.
In an affidavit filed in pursuance to the April 21 order, Ajjay R Agarwal, Managing Director of the firm, claimed that the company had not sold any products post November 17, 2014 in which image and name of Dhoni was used or misused and they did not having any such stock in its custody after that date.
Dhoni had an endorsement agreement with the company which had expired in December 2012.
While seeking that Dhoni’s plea for initiating contempt against him be dismissed with cost, the MD said “I say and submit that the company has removed all material from its own websites and from social media websites including Facebook.”
“However, at this juncture, I say and submit that the petitioner number one (Dhoni) is guilty of wilfully misleading this court for the sake of creating alarmist circumstances,” Agarwal said in his affidavit filed before Justice Manmohan.
He also claimed that even much prior to November 17, 2014, they were not using Dhoni’s name or image as endorsements in any manner on social media or its websites.
“I say that in the facts of the case before us, Facebook posts containing the image of petitioner number one (Dhoni) was posted by respondent number two (firm) sometime in the year 2012 which was well outside the active webpage of the Facebook account of the respondent number two; which fact was well within the knowledge of the petitioners (Dhoni and Rhiti Sports) who have deliberately dug up the posts associated with the petitioner number one (Dhoni) herein for the sake of creating the present cause of action…,” it alleged.
During the hearing today, the counsel appearing for Dhoni sought time to file a rejoinder to the affidavit and the court fixed the matter for hearing on January 24.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Dhoni seeking contempt proceedings against Agarwal for defying high court’s November 17, 2014 direction asking Maxx Mobilink to “refrain from selling any products” which use or claimed to have been endorsed by Dhoni.
On April 21, the high court had asked Agarwal to inform it about the steps taken on order refraining them from selling any product having endorsement of Dhoni.
In the affidavit, Agarwal claimed they have not “breached” the November 17, 2014 order and removed all such material from its website which contained the name or image of Dhoni.
“I say and submit that the respondent number two (firm), as on November 17, 2014 and even as on date, continues to rightfully use the brand ‘MSD7’ for the purpose of selling its products. I say and submit that it is a matter of fact that respondent number two is the absolute owner of all rights in the brand/ trademark ‘MSD7’,” he claimed in the affidavit.
The November 2014 direction was passed on a plea by Dhoni and Rhiti Sports, who had alleged that Maxx Mobilink had not paid dues of over crores of rupees which was agreed upon for using the cricketer’s name on their products.
Dhoni’s counsel had said the endorsement agreement between him and the company had expired in December 2012 but Maxx was still using his name to sell its products and not paying him the dues.
Agarwal’s counsel had countered these claims saying no mobile phones were sold in the name of the cricketer.
The cricketer, in his contempt plea, has also sought a direction to seize all the products/mobile handsets and such other articles where his name and image is being used to sell and promote these products.