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Bombay High Court gives a clean chit to producer Gaurang Doshi for his film Aankhen Returns

clean chit to producer Gaurang Doshi for his film Aankhen Returns

Gaurang Doshi, the maker of the iconic film Aankhen, starring Amitabh Bachchan with Sushmita Sen and Akshay Kumar, is finally a relieved man.

The rights of the sequel Aankhen Returns now rest with Gaurang Doshi Productions. This after Rajtaru Studios withdrew their petition staking claims to the rights to Aankhen Returns.

The Bombay High Court has confirmed that the complete rights of Aankhen Returns lie with Gaurang Doshi.
. “I’m very grateful to the Bombay High Court for their decision. I had complete belief in the system and the Court’s ruling is highly reassuring for people like me that justice is delivered to those in the right”, says Gaurang Doshi.

The news couldn’t have come at a better time for Gaurang with his production house now poised to announce a slew of films and some big international tie-ups.

Giving him complete rights to produce the film, the Bombay High Court gave the producer a clean chit ending a long drawn battle.

BELOW IS THE NOTICE THAT WAS PUBLISHED IN A NATIONAL MAGAZINE TO CLARIFY MR. GAURANG DOSHI’S LEGAL POSITION.

PUBLIC NOTICE

The notice is issued to the public at large and Film Fraternity, Film Producers, Directors and Actors with the intention to bring to their attention that the Aankhen Sequel / Aankhen Returns rights rest with our Client MR. GAURANG DOSHI / M/s GAUARANG DOSHI PRODUCTIONS, 201/202/203, Jai Amba Chs, Juhu Versova Link Road, Jvpd Andheri West, Mumbai 400053

It is stated that the Public Notice dated 14th September 2019 (published in “Complete Cinema”) of Rajtaru Studios Limited which is a motivated and mischievous manner raises totally false/fabricated/misleading/legally incorrect and per se damaging and defamatory insinuations against my client, which are designed and is an attempt to mislead the public at large and Film Fraternity etc, by falsely claiming rights over the title ‘Aankhen Returns’ which in law still belongs to my Client. Ms. Rajtaru Studios has till date paid not a single paisa to my client and as such their claims are not only bogus but highly scurrilous and defamatory against which my Client reserves his rights to initiate appropriate legal proceedings, both civil and criminal. Not only no monies have ever been paid to my Client by M/s Rajtaru Studios, to the contrary, but they have also taken money from my client.

That my Client is engaged in the film production business, is the owner of the developmental right, including the right to produce sequel/s, in respect of a feature film titled ‘Aankhen’ released in the year 2002. That my Client entered into an ‘Agreement’ on 22.04.2012 with the sender (Rajtaru Studios ltd./‘RSL’) of the legal notice dated 05.07.2019 and assigned his developmental rights for producing a sequel to the film ‘Aankhen’ to be called as Aankhen-2. As, from 22.04.2012 onwards, no efforts or initiatives were taken by the ‘RSL’ to make the film and therefore by a letter dated 10.11.2012, my client terminated the said ‘Agreement’ for non-performance of the ‘Agreement’

Being aggrieved by the action of my Client, ‘RSL’ filed Arbitration petition no. 91/2013 on 09.01.2013 under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (‘Act’). ‘RSL’ pursued its remedy under Section 9 proceeding and interim relief was granted to ‘RSL’. It was alleged that my client failed to abide by the order passed under section 9 proceeding and therefore, contempt proceeding initiated against my Client by ‘RSL’. In the contempt proceeding arising out of alleged non obedience of interim orders passed under section 9 in order to show obedience of interim order my client made the statement that he has not claimed any rights in “AANKHEN2” and also issued a Public Notice to the same effect in the publication Complete Cinema dated 18th March 2017 as well as in Times of India dated 26th march 2017. This was recorded in the Orders dated 10th March 2017 and 20th June 2017 passed in Contempt Petition No. 12 of 2017 in Arbitration Petition no. 91 of 2013. The statement/undertaking/public advertisement given by my client was in the context of a contempt proceeding arising out of alleged non-obedience of the interim orders passed in Arbitration proceeding and to clear the issue in public domain arising out of certain statements made in media and social media by my client.

The Order dated 09.07.2014 of High Court clearly indicates that the final determination of rights arising out of the contractual relationship between the parties was subject to the final outcome of the arbitration proceeding and cannot be finally determined by interim orders. What this entailed was passing of a final award by the arbitrator to determine the rights of the parties.

However, ‘RSL’ instead chose to withdraw the claim resulting in the ex-parte order dated October 15, 2018, passed by arbitrator. By this time even otherwise with the efflux of time mandate of the Arbitral Tribunal got terminated and no final award was passed which could determine the rights and liabilities of the parties or which could be enforced as per the provision of section 36 of the Act. Moreover, the direct effect of withdrawal of claim by ‘RSL’ has resulted in the abandonment of the cause of action on which all subsequent orders by way of interim measures or undertakings in contempt proceedings were predicated. In such a situation, whatever orders were passed in the proceedings under section 9 or in the proceedings before the Arbitral tribunal, become infructuous as there is no final award/order passed by the Tribunal which would attract the merger of the interim order passed by the Tribunal or Court and could be executed under Section 36 of the Act.

In the absence of any proceedings being pending or a final award being passed status quo ante at the point of termination of the agreement by my client, revives, by virtue of which the title and rights in the movie Ankhen Return continue to vest in my client unless a legal determination takes place otherwise. In any case, no second claim by M/s Rajtaru Studios can be maintained in law as their claim petition was withdrawn by them. It is restated that by abandoning its claim before the arbitral tribunal, ‘RSL’ has lost the right to any claim regarding sequel to ‘Aankhen’ after the termination of the agreement dated 22.04.2012 by my client vide Letter dated 10.11.2012 and conclusively after termination of the arbitration proceeding due to withdrawal of claim by order dated 15.10.2018.

It is further being pleased to inform you that an order of withdrawal of claim such as the one dated 15.10.2018 can only be passed under Section 32(2)(a) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Section 37 of the Act provides for appeals from the order passed u/s 8, 9, 34, 16(2), 16(3) and 17 and from no other orders. This read with section 32(2)(a) of the Act, means that order passed by the Tribunal when the ‘RSL’ withdraws its claim becomes non-appealable for any of the parties. In-plane words since the Act does not provide any appeal to the court of law when the ‘RSL’ withdraws its claim and thereafter, the Tribunal terminates its mandate by passing an order to that effect, the Order dated 15.10.2018 as such becomes non-appealable and arbitration proceeding attains finality without ascertaining rights and liabilities of the parties to the arbitration proceeding as it has happened in this case. It also means that, as on today, after the termination of the ‘Agreement’, by my client, the title and rights in the movie ‘Ankhen’ or its sequel/s continue to vest in my client, unless a legal determination takes place otherwise.

Therefore, our Client i.e. Mr. Gaurang Doshi / M/s Gauarang Doshi Productions hereby calls upon the public at large, Film Fraternity, Directors and Actors etc, to make a note and be updated about the same and anyone claiming or acting in contrary with an intention to sabotage such rights, then my client shall be constrained to initiate appropriate legal actions against such individual / entity and the same shall be exclusively at your own risk, costs and consequences.

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