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Since 1st March, 1999
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STAR turn to Karishma

Calcutta, June 18: The Sahara Manoranjan versus Barbara Taylor Bradford case took a “star wars” turn today with Sahara’s lawyers attacking Rupert Murdoch’s network for the legal tangle surrounding the beaming of Karishma: The Miracles of Destiny. The multi-crore serial went off air after the first episode on May 12 following a Supreme Court ruling.

Sahara fielded a battery of lawyers in the Calcutta High Court to contest the suit filed by Barbara Taylor Bradford, in which she has accused Sahara Manoranjan of copyright violation.

“She hasn’t seen the serial. I think she hasn’t even seen the promos. How can she slap Sahara Manoranjan with copyright violation charges'” asked Anindya Mitra, appearing for the Subrato Roy-owned channel.

Led by Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Sahara counsels — including Mitra and Samaraditya Pal — argued before Justice M.H.S. Ansari that it was an “act of rivalry” by STAR TV.

“Harper Collins, the publisher of Bradford’s A Woman of Substance, is owned by Rupert Murdoch. He is also the owner of STAR TV, which is scared of its TRP going down with the launch of the serial,” argued lawyers representing Sahara.

the channel’s chief executive officer Sumit Roy, producer of the serial Akashdeep Sabir, its story-writer Sachin Bhowmick and screen-play writer Rafiq Talukdar.

They also cited the example of how a competing television channel had masterminded a public interest litigation to bar the beaming of Star Plus’ Kaun Banega Crorepati.

It was also argued that the breach of copyright charge was baseless and the 262-episode serial Karishma was an open-ended one. “The screenplay is ready for the first 80 episodes and, depending on response from the viewers, the story line will change,” argued Pal, representing Bhowmick.

The issue of financial damages also came up during the hearing, with Sahara lawyers demanding how the Manhattan-based author could compensate for the losses suffered by the channel in case she lost the case. “She doesn’t have any assets here. How will the damages be recovered from a foreign national'” questioned Mitra. The hearing will continue tomorrow with Bradford’s lawyers giving their reply.

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