As the feverish pitch for viewing World Cup football matches heightens, police are conducting countrywide raids into the offices of cable operators who are illegally showing the matches.

In a country where cable operators have often violated copyright laws and the public remains apathetic to cable piracy, a Delhi High Court order on June 14 has directed the police conduct raids into the premises where there is illegal telecasting of Ten Sports channel and confiscate video and other equipment.

Following a suit by Taj Television, a Dubai-based company, which has acquired the rights to telecast the FIFA World Cup matches through Ten Sports which it owns, a court order has been issued to collect evidence that would be used to initiate civil proceedings against cable operators who violate the Intellectual Property Rights.

HMA Udyog Limited of Modi Entertainment, which has the exclusive distributing rights of Taj Television, has accused InCable Network of stealing its signals to beam the matches illegally across India.

Hathway and InCable Network, one of the largest Multi Service Operators (MSO) that reach out to 1.5 million homes in Mumbai itself, signed a contract with Taj Television three weeks ago.

But InCable reneged on its contract and started transmitting signals "stolen" from the Chinese and Russian channels, according to the corporate communications organisation representing Taj Television.

There has been a lot of stealing across the country and therefore police raids will continue till the matches end on June 30, a source at Modi Entertainment told Gulf News.

"Raids have been taken place at several locations and Rs2 million as damages would have to be paid by the offenders," he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Express reported that the team headed by R.S. Chabra, a court commissioner appointed by the Delhi High Court, found violations at The Regent Hotel in Bandra which falls under the InCable Network's area. There are around four or five such operators across Mumbai providing cable network in areas that are designated to them.

The paper reported the attorney for HMA Udyog Manish Kaushik saying that the hotel denied any wrong doing and in fact showed them an agreement it had signed with the InCable president Rajiv Vyas. It then gave an undertaking that it would not telecast matches.

The distributor has reportedly got concrete evidence against six offenders in Ludhiana, Kancheepuram and Aligarh. With the police raids and recording of evidence by the court commissioner, several cable operators have stopped the illegal telecast.

Kaushik said, "this is a unique court order because it is against unknown defendants across the country. There are around 6,000 cable operators and 40,000 small time operators in India."

"As of now, we have incriminating evidence against 14 more cable operators and will supply the information to the court, to take either civil or criminal action."