HC refuses to stay release of

HC refuses to stay release of

HC refuses to stay release of

In a setback to script writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, the Bombay High Court today refused to stay the release of film "Zanjeer", a remake of the hit Amitabh Bachchan-starrer of the same name, made by Prakash Mehra, which is slated to hit screens this Friday.

Salim and Javed had filed a suit in the High Court claiming they had copyrights over the script, story and dialogues of the 1973 blockbuster "Zanjeer" and demanded Rs six crore as monetary compensation from the kin of Prakash Mehra for remaking the film.

The duo contented they had the copyrights on the script of the old film and they had allowed Prakash Mehra to produce the film based on their script just once. Hence, a remake could not be produced without their permission.

However, Justice S J Kathawala did not grant any interim relief by staying the release of the film. He cited two grounds for refusing interim relief. One was the delay made by the plaintiffs (Salim and Javed) in giving defendants legal notice and filing the suit against them. The other was that the plaintiffs were demanding monetary compensation.

Soon after the verdict, the counsel for the plaintiffs, Ravi Kadam made an oral plea before a division bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud who asked him to file a written plea and posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.

Justice Kathawala, dismissing the notice of motion moved by Salm and Javed, said "in this case, the plaintiffs have not only delayed issuing of the legal notice as well as filing of the suit against the defendants but have themselves asserted that a sum of Rs six crores would be a fair and reasonable monetary compensation".

"The plaintiffs are, therefore, not entitled to a mandatory injunction as sought even if this court would have come to the conclusion that the plaintiffs are the owners of the copyright as alleged since the plaintiffs' claim falls within the provisions of Section 38(3)(c) and not under Section 38(3)(b) of Specific Relief Act", the judge ruled.

Under section 38(3)(c) of the Act, a court can grant permanent injunction in cases where the defendant invades plaintiff's right and the invasion is such that compensation in money would not afford adequate relief.

The court noted the plaintiffs from day one made it clear that they are willing to give permission to the defendants for remake of the movie "Zanjeer" upon payment.

The judge said the producers had clarified that as and when the court decides, they will not be denying the rightful money to the rightful owner.

Thus, the defendants proceeded on the basis that in the event of the court deciding that the plaintiffs are the rightful owners of the copyright, and compensation for use of the said copyright is payable, they would be paying the same.

However, when the plaintiffs filed the suit on April one and served the same on the defendants on April 5, almost the entire shooting of the film was complete and further shooting of only 10 days remained to complete the movie. The only relief that the plaintiffs sought in the plaint was for permanent mandatory orders of injunction restraining the defendants from infringing the copyright of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs submitted a defendant who, after knowing of the claim of the plaintiff, continues to infringe the rights of the plaintiffs will be deemed to be aware of consequences which may follow due to his infringement. If the defendant continues to infringe the rights of the plaintiff, he does so at his own peril and therefore the plaintiffs are entitled to mandatory injunctions, they argued.

However, the judge held that "acceptance of such a submission of the plaintiffs in the facts and circumstances of this case, who from day one upto the completion of shooting have repeatedly claimed money in lieu of the purported infringement of their copyright, would be totally unfair to the defendants who, in response to the monetary claim of the plaintiffs, had submitted they will not deny the rightful money to the rightful owner as and when decided by the court".

The court also took into account the argument of the defendants that Rs 55,000 had been paid towards copyright compensation to the plaintiffs by Prakash Mehra when the original "Zanjeer" was made in 1973.

Sumeet Mehra, son of Prakash Mehra, and his two brothers are among the defendants who have produced the remake of "Zanjeer".

Meanwhile, in a related development, businessman Prince Tuli has filed a suit in the local sessions court, seeking deletion of scenes in which his motor-bike has been used allegedly without his permission.

Prince Tuli was one of the co-producers of the film initially, but he walked out over a rift with the other producers.

"We have filed a suit against Apporva Lakhiya and Reliance Entertainment," said Tuli's lawyer advocate Filji Fredrick.

Fredrick said Tuli had given the bike to Lakhiya on friendly terms but it was used in the song sequence `Mumbai Ka Hero' in the film without his permission.

"We have sought the deletion of the scenes, in which the bike was used, before the release of the movie," he said.

The sessions court is likely to hear the case on Wednesday.

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