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Soap battle back in Calcutta

Calcutta, May 22: The fight over the telecast of Karishma – The Miracles of Destiny will continue in Calcutta High Court.

Supreme Court Justices Santosh Hegde and Shivraj Patil sent the case back to Calcutta on Thursday in response to an application filed by Sahara on Monday. The stay on the telecast of the Sahara Manoranjan mega-serial starring Karisma Kapoor is in place till it is heard.

The battle between Barbara Taylor Bradford — alleging breach of copyright of her books, including A Woman of Substance, by Sahara, the makers of the multi-crore TV serial — was being fought in Calcutta before Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose. But when a division bench here stayed the injunction on its telecast on May 12, Bradford’s lawyers moved the apex court that evening to stop the scheduled premiere. The telecast was stayed and, though the show premiered as scheduled, it was pulled off the air the following day.

Sahara had appealed against the stay order, alleging “ material suppression” by Bradford in Calcutta High Court, whose attorneys had not disclosed that they had filed the suit in Bombay High Court previously.

“The Supreme Court has not expressed its opinion on this issue,” explains Som Mandal of Fox & Mandal, Bradford’s lawyers. The apex court has, however, set aside the division bench ruling that material suppression had occurred, though the argument can be brought up before the single-judge bench.

The move to Calcutta may hasten the hearing of the suit. Sahara has emphasised the urgency of speedy disposal of the case, with Rs 60 crore already invested in the first 80 parts of the 260-episode serial. “But the original breach of copyright suit is not likely to come up for quite a while. It could take around five to eight years for evidence to be heard,” said Mandal. The real test is, therefore, whether the stay is confirmed or removed.

The contempt of court plea, which Bradford filed in the Supreme Court following the May 12 telecast, is yet to be heard. The channel claimed that notification of the ex parte order came too late to stop the broadcast.

When contacted, a Sahara spokesperson refused comment.

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