The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court rejects monopoly on woman of substance
- Judges weigh damages

The injunction on the telecast of Karishma — The Miracles of Destiny was “wrongful”, said a division bench of Calcutta High Court on Thursday.

Delivering the verdict in Barbara Taylor Bradford’s appeal before the court, the bench of Justices A.. Ray and J. Banerjee indicated that the plaintiff might have to pay “damages” to Sahara, which was stopped from airing the mega-serial since its May 12 premiere.

The bench has not finished delivering its judgment, but dismissed the threat posed by Sahara’s show at this stage to Bradford. “Should the serial start resembling the book in a significant way”, it might be perceived as a threat, said Justice Ray. “But to come to court with a plaint on the sketchy, basic and sparse similarities… is wholly wrongful on the part of the plaintiff.” Bradford had, the judge said, “put a spoke in the wheel of the Sahara channel through the injunction”.

Judge Pinaki Ghose, who had granted the injunction on May 7, had “not applied” the copyright law “correctly”, Justice Ray said. Referring to the fact that the single bench had asked for a bank guarantee from Bradford in case the copyright suit was dismissed and she was asked to pay damages, the judges said “the plaintiffs should suffer” as the “injunction was wrongful”.

Had the “standard law been applied”, Justice Ray added, the “plaintiff would not have had a prima facie case” and the “injunction should have been refused fully”. The court would be “assessing the costs and damages of obtaining the injunction wrongfully”, as the suit involves “financial stakes”.

The bench will continue its ruling on Friday. Justice Ray raised several points, one of which was that no significant parallel had been pointed out between the book and the serial. “The highly prized counsel did not bother to read the book,” he said. “At least I was venturesome enough to take the book home everyday,” he said. His wife, said Ray, had read the book and he had “patiently” taken an update from her every morning.

“I knew something of the plot and characters,” he added. Relating one of the key plot developments in the 1979 best-selling novel, he said: “No attempt was made by anybody to pick out any of these incidents or special features to make out a prima facie case for infringement.”

Understanding of the copyright law is limited as only a few cases are filed under this section in India. Copyright infringements, Justice Ray said, could “only be demonstrated by an attention to detail”.

Justice Ray held that “the plaintiff has not yet any arguable case to go to trial”. The interview by journalist Pammi Somal, he added, “even if taken in its entirety”, was not enough for even a prima facie case of infringement.

The interview of the serial’s producer, Akashdeep Sabir, printed in a film magazine was crucial to the case. But the judge said it only established that some of the plot and characters had been borrowed. “In our opinion, this is just an idea,” he added. “The plaintiff cannot have a monopoly on a woman making it from rags to riches.”

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