Bombay HC clears way for January 10 release of Deepika Padukone starrer 'Chhapaak'

"Prima facie, it is impossible to grant ad-interim injunction on the facts presented", the High Court observed.
Bombay HC clears way for January 10 release of Deepika Padukone starrer 'Chhapaak'

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday cleared way for January 10 release of Deepika Padukone starrer movie 'Chhapaak'. The Court, however, kept all contentions of alleged copyright infringement open and to be heard after the release.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice SC Gupte was hearing copyright infringement plea filed by one, Rakesh Bharti seeking interim stay on the release of movie.

The Court said that no one can claim copyright on a story inspired from true events or incidents. Justice Gupte observed,

"Prima facie, it is impossible to grant ad-interim injunction on the facts presented. If your story is equally inspired from theirs which you have derived from common source, in that case you cannot say it is a Copyright infringement."

Advocate Girish Godbole, on instructions from the plaintiff present in the Court on Wednesday, submitted that he does not wish to press for ad-interim relief to stall the January 10 release.

However, advocate Godbole requested that liberty be granted to press for relief after the movie is released and script is in public domain.

Granting liberty to the plaintiff to raise his contentions later, the Court has asked the parties to file reply if any within four weeks.

The plaintiff, Rakesh Bharti had sought perpetual injunction, claiming that he had conceived the idea for a movie, tentatively titled Black Day, which he got registered with the Indian Motion Pictures Producers' Association in February 2015.

Bharti submitted that the entire story written by the him was based on the life of acid attack survivor, Laxmi Agarwal. Accordingly, he also told the Court that he had taken necessary NOC from Agarwal for the purpose of producing the said film. It was claimed by Bharti that he had an intention to produce Hindi feature film alongwith his son on the basis of same story.

He submitted that he has been working on the script and approaching several artists and producers including Fox Star Studio for narration.

Meghna Gulzar, however opposed the plea, contending that copyright cannot be claimed on true life events. Meghna Gulzar had sought the dismissal of the interim application.

In an affidavit submitted on Tuesday, Gulzar submitted,

"In the present case, the plaintiff (Bharti) has sought the protection of an idea of a film based on the story of an acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal...True facts and events are not entitled to copyright protection."

It was further contended,

"The suit was wholly misconceived, frivolous, legally untenable and unmeritorious...I submit that plaintiff has not conducted himself in a bonafide manner. Moreover, the suit has been filed with ulterior motives to gain undue publicity and to obstruct and delay the release of the film called Chhapaak."

The affidavit was filed by Meghna Gulzar through advocates Ameet Naik and Madhu Gadodia of Naik Naik and Company.

It was submitted on Tuesday that script of the film ‘Chhapaak’ is original and is based on the life of an acid attack survivor.

Counsels of the defendant Film Director argued,

“Meghna Gulzar the co-writer and director of the film, had obtained the necessary rights and developed a story and screenplay which was unique and original and based on the research and interviews conducted by her and her team.”

Meghna Gulzar added that plaintiff's conduct is demonstrative of gross, inordinate and unexplained delay and laches, on which could alone the plaint ought to be dismissed. Advocate Birendra Saraf appeared for Gulzar.

The Court has posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks.

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