In a welcome step, Indian Judiciary has embraced the concept of handing out ‘John Doe’ orders or Ashok Kumar orders as they are colloquially called.Although, the Delhi High Court has since the early 2000’s regularly passed such orders, it is indeed heartening to see that other courts such as Madras High Court have followed suit. Simply speaking, a John Doe order is nothing but an ex-parte interim order usually in the form of an injunction against Defendants who at the time of filing the suit were unknown or could not be determined. The ex parte order then applies to these Defendants.
The order comes particularly handy in tackling with offences such as counterfeiting and piracy. In the matter before the Madras High Court, producers of the movie ‘3’ apprehending large scale piracy of the movie over the internet filed a qua-timet action before the court seeking ex-parte injunction against 15 Internet service Providers and several un-named “John Doe”. As per the order, the ISP’s will have to monitor their users and ensure nobody is accessing shared copies of the movie on their network, thus ensuring movie is not easily pirated.