The Supreme Court on Wednesday i.e. 1st August, 2018 dismissed a petition filed by Vashu Bhagnani of Pooja Entertainment and Films (“Pooja Films”) against the release of the film “Fanney Khan” starring Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao (“Film”), which is due to release on Friday, 3rd August, 2018.
It was earlier reported that on 30th July, 2018 Vashu Bhagnani had moved the Supreme Court over distribution rights of the said Film. The case was presented by Bhagnani’s counsel before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khawhilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, and the matter was posted for hearing on 1st August, 2018.
Vashu Bhagnani of Pooja Films said that it owns the exclusive right to distribute, exhibit and exploit the all-India commercial and non-commercial theatrical rights for the said Film (“said Rights”), vide an MoU dated 16th December, 2017 executed by and between Pooja Films and Kriarj Entertainment (“MoU”).
It is also claimed that as per the terms of the MoU, the said Rights for the Film were sold to Pooja Films for an agreed sum of Rs. 10 crores plus GST as and by way of a refundable advance. It is alleged by Pooja Films that an amount of Rs. 8.5 crores had already been paid and the balance amount needed to be paid only a week prior to the release of the Film, as per the terms of the MoU.
It further alleged that under agreement dated 8th May, 2017 (“Agreement”), KriArj had represented to Pooja Films that it owns the exclusive, unencumbered and effective rights of the Film and that it had not created any charge, lien, mortgage or any other encumbrance on the said Rights of the Film. However, later KriArj had colluded with T-Series and parted with its entire co-production and distribution rights in the Film in favor of Tseries, in an attempt to defeat the said Rights in the Film granted to Pooja Films.
In the current petition, Vashu Bhagnani also sought transfer of the case filed by Pooja Films against the makers of the Film and pending before the Bombay High Court to the Delhi High Court or to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found no merit in the said petition and dismissed the same vide an order dated 1st August, 2018. Consequently, pending application to grant a stay on release of the Film was accordingly disposed of.
Apparently, two other petitions in connection to the same matter have already been pending before the Delhi and Bombay High Courts.
As previously reported, the Delhi Court vide an ex-parte order dated 10th July, 2018 granted an interim injunction restraining Vashu Bhagnani’s Pooja Entertainment from interfering with the distribution and release of the films “Batti Gul Meter Chalu” and “Fanney Khan”, co-produced by T-Series.
In this case, the Court took note that T-series is producing the films under written agreements, all of which were executed much prior in time than the alleged agreements under which Vashu Bhagnani is claiming the said Rights.
Meanwhile, Vashu Bhagnani had also approached the Bombay High Court against the makers of the Film based on the same cause of action, as reported earlier. The Single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Kathawalla had also reserved its judgment in the matter which was pronounced on 1st August, 2018.
Upon consideration of all facts and evidence in front of the Court, Justice Kathawalla raised a serious doubt about the genuineness of the transaction asserted by Pooja Films with KriArj and held that a prima facie case could not be made out. Therefore, no ad-interim relief was granted to Pooja Films. This order can be accessed here.
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