In a major relief for Star India, the Bombay high court recently overturned an arbitration tribunal order against the network and ruled that it could seek reimbursement from producer Bobby Bedi of Kaleidoscope Entertainment.
Star India took Bedi to court alleging he had taken an advance of Rs 6 crore in 2007 to produce the mythological series Mahabharata, but failed to produce a single episode.
Earlier this year, an arbitration tribunal had rejected Star India’s claim, following which the television network approached high court.
According to the plea, in December 2007, Bedi approached Star India with a proposal to produce a TV series on the Mahabharata.
The two parties then drew up a contract according to which Bedi was to deliver the first episode by May 7, 2008.
Star India also gave him an advance. It, however, claimed that Bedi not only failed to come up with a suitable script in time, but also did not make any arrangements for construction of the set, choosing the cast, costumes, etc.
Bedi, on the other hand, claimed while there was some delay on his part, he finally delivered the script for the first five episodes by mid-May, but Star India rejected them.
In November 2008, Star India gave Bedi a notice of two weeks and cancelled the contract. When it sought a refund, Bedi said he had already spent it in preparing for the series.
While the tribunal acknowledged the delay was because of Bedi, it rejected Star India’s claim for a refund stating that it was “difficult to accept its contention that the delay resulted in a breach of contract”. It held that Star India had failed to specify that time was of the essence — a technical clause common in such contracts.
Justice RD Dhanuka of the HC, however, said the order was “arbitrary and totally perverse”. He ruled that Star India had expressed urgency in its mails to Bedi by providing the two weeks’ notice before terminating the contract.