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Curtain goes up on Karishma in court drama

Calcutta, May 12: Karishmaaa, Karishmaa, the signature tune wafted out of Sahara Manoranjan on the dot at 9.30 pm.

The Supreme Court had stayed the telecast, but the opening episode of Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny went on air at the end of a dramatic day of swinging fortunes in the suit filed against Sahara for copyright violation of the bestseller A Woman of Substance by its author Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Sahara’s lawyers trooped into Calcutta High Court this morning, led by Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the former Bengal chief minister, seeking vacation of the interim stay given on Wednesday by Justice P.C. Ghose, stopping telecast of Karishma, the blockbuster 260-episode serial starring Karisma Kapoor.

Justice Ghose rejected the appeal, overruling Ray’s argument that the petitioners had not informed the court that they had first moved Bombay High Court, an act that amounts to “material suppression” of fact. Ray said Rs 60 crore had already been spent on making the first 80 episodes of the four-days-a-week serial.

Solicitors Fox & Mandal, representing Taylor Bradford, contended that their Mumbai action was “not a material fact” and “not relevant”, as they had withdrawn the case “after finding fresh information to file a fresh suit”, as permitted by Bombay High Court.

Turned down by Justice Ghose, Ray went to an appellate court against Wednesday’s injunction as well as the one passed a few hours ago, again on grounds of “total suppression” of the Mumbai proceedings.

At 2 pm, the action shifted to this court. “You should have informed the court about your score in the Bombay innings,” Justice A.K. Ganguly told Taylor Bradford’s lawyers, before staying the injunction. The appellate bench termed the “gross suppression” an “abuse of process”.

As Ray strode off, waving triumphantly at onlookers, one of the partners of Fox & Mandal was seen in the corridor making a call: “I need to talk to her, it’s very urgent…”

It was not clear who the “her” was but Taylor Bradford would not be a bad guess.

For Sahara, the appellate bench had performed a miracle by clearing the legal lane for Karishma. Sharma & Kajaria, the solicitors representing Sahara, said: “The appellate court verdict clearly shows that our stand was right. On Tuesday, we may move an application to dismiss the suit.”

Fox & Mandal was on the defensive: “We will carry on with the copyright violation trial, but we are yet to decide whether we will contest the appellate court judgment.”

But the process of moving the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court order, allowing the telecast, had already been set rolling.

A little over four hours after the Sahara legal team left the court room in Calcutta, having seemingly won the battle, the Supreme Court — Justices Santosh Hegde and Shivraj Patil — stayed Karishma.

On Sahara Manoranjan, however, the streaming video had this constant announcement: “Karishma – The Miracles of Destiny will be telecast tonight at 9.30 pm as scheduled”. And that was how it turned out.

“We moved the Supreme Court at 4 and at 8 we got a stay of the Calcutta High Court order. We informed their counsel and for the past one-and-a-half-hours we have been trying to communicate with them to serve the notice. But the fax machines are switched off, and they are not taking calls,” said a solicitor with Fox & Mandal.

Efforts by The Telegraph to contact Sahara did not yield any result.

In an ex parte (where the rival party is not present) order, which is what the Supreme Court stay was, it is the responsibility of the petitioner to communicate the directive to the respondents. Contempt of court proceedings cannot be started against Sahara if Fox & Mandal cannot show proof of having served the notice.

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