Producer Prernaa Arora convicted for contempt of court
MUMBAI. The Bombay high court has convicted Bollywood producer Prernaa Arora of contempt of court and sentenced her to imprisonment for six months.
Justice GS Kulkarni on February 24 ordered Arora, who produced the movies Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and PadMan, to surrender at the Azad Maidan police station in Mumbai before March 2 to serve the prison term. The judge also issued a non-bailable warrant for her arrest and directed the police to execute the warrant if she fails to surrender. The order was uploaded on the website of the court on Saturday.
The order came on proceedings initiated by Gothic Entertainment against KriArj Entertainment and its directors, Prernaa and Protima Arora for execution of a settlement reached before an arbitral tribunal. Under the settlement, Arora’s production house had agreed to pay Rs. 25 crore to Gothic, but failed to clear two instalments of over Rs. 2.5 crore. As cheques for the instalments bounced, Gothic moved the high court for the execution of the settlement.
Several orders were passed by different benches of the high court on Gothic’s application starting in February 2019. One of the orders directed KriArj and its directors to furnish list of their assets, annual returns, profit and loss accounts and balance sheets.
Because Pratima Arora had been absconding, Prernaa Arora was ordered to make disclosures about their movable and immovable assets. After Gothic pointed out that she had not cleared its dues, but agreed to pay substantial amounts to some other party that had lodged a criminal case, leading to her arrest, the court had ordered her to submit the undertaking given to the court in bail proceedings.
Justice Kulkarni noted that the film producer did not comply with any of these orders and on November 18, 2019 gave an undertaking to pay a sum of Rs. 3 crore to Gothic in instalments towards a full and final settlement. On February 5, 2020, Gothic told the court that Prernaa Arora had breached the undertaking as well; the judge then issued a notice asking her why action for contempt of court should not be taken against her. She did not even bother to reply to the notice.
Justice Kulkarni said:“There can be no two opinions that respondent No.2 Prernaa Arora has no regard for either the process of law or for the orders passed by this Court. The approach of respondent No.2 is to consistently undermine the authority of the Court and the process of law.”
The court said the undertaking given by the film producer and recorded in a November 18, 2019 order was “an attempt to mislead the Court and the applicant (Gothic) by making false assurances of payment.”
“This is nothing but an abuse of process of law apart from being a gross contempt of the orders passed by this Court,” said the judge.
When HT tried to contact Prernaa Arora for a comment, she disconnected the phone call. She had not responded to a message as of press time on Saturday.