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Since 1st March, 1999
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Calcutta court gives green signal for Karishma telecast

Calcutta, June 30: Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny could well be back on air from July 7.

Calcutta High Court vacated the injunction today on the screening of the mega-serial, which had been pulled off the air following a breach of copyright suit filed by writer Barbara Taylor Bradford last month. Sahara Manoranjan is now free to air the show, starring Karisma Kapoor, from July 7.

Justice M.H.S. Ansari’s verdict does not decide the copyright case, which will continue, but gives Sahara the green signal, as the “balance of convenience” lies with the channel. This, says a lawyer representing Bradford, means that Sahara is likely to suffer more if the injunction is continued.

This implies that the high court bench took into account reasons including the multi-crore investment in the mega-serial, featuring a number of faces from Bollywood’s big screen, to allow its return.

The Manhattan-based writer had moved the high court on May 7, alleging that the channel had lifted the plot of the Emma Harte trilogy, which hit the shelves in the 1970s with the best-selling A Woman of Substance.

The legal battle, less than two months old, is, however, far from over. “We will file an appeal tomorrow or day after. We will exhaust all options in Calcutta High Court before moving Supreme Court,” said Som Mandal of Fox & Mandal, the law firm representing Bradford.

“She (Barbara) is obviously very upset. Though I don’t have a complete copy of the verdict, on all points, the verdict has gone in favour of Barbara, saying that prima facie she has a case, except in the balance of convenience issue,” said Mandal from London, with his clients, Barbara and husband Robert.

For the British-born Barbara, the decision implies, according to her lawyers, that “anyone in India could go on copying anything”. The situation which “would never happen in England” also meant that a writer could not sell his or her own works, as the “first crooked guys” who steal a storyline have the right to it.

Sahara had not, said a company spokesperson, finalised when it would bring back to the small screen the show that had been pulled off the air after its May 12 premiere.

It was still following a “wait and watch” policy, but viewed today’s verdict as “positive news”. The channel, tight-lipped since the controversy erupted, declined further comment.

The court has asked Sahara to submit a bank guarantee of Rs 25 lakh within four weeks as security. “This means that remedy in such cases can only be in terms of damages,” added Mandal, calling the Rs 25-lakh security “ridiculous”.

A Woman of Substance is published by Harper Collins, part of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, which also owns the STAR TV network, the reigning kings of cable TV. Sahara’s Karishma had been billed to take on STAR’s saas-bahu sagas, which, alleged Sahara’s counsel in court, was the prime motivation for the suit.

The script for the show, 80 episodes of which have been completed at a cost upwards of Rs 60 crore, has, apparently, been submitted before the high court. The writer has quoted interviews given by the producers of the show to the media, admitting that Karishma was based on A Woman of Substance.

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