The Accidental Prime Minister stopped for release by Bombay HC citing fraud by Producers

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The Accidental Prime Minister

Cannot release in Dec 2018 without court order

The much publicized Anupam Kher-starrer The Accidental Prime Minister may be in jeopardy and may not be able to see light of day.

The official liquidator of the Bombay High Court have instructed the Censor Board not to release the film as the production house, Bohra Bros Production Pvt Ltd., is under liquidation.

The film is based on Sanjaya Baru’s book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh. The original plan was to release the film on 21st December 2018. However, as a result of non-compliance of HC’s order on a complaint by Jain Entertainment Network Pvt Ltd., an Andheri-based firm moved a petition to wind up operations of Bohra Bros Production Pvt Ltd. citing grounds that the company was unable to pay off its debts.

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The Accidental Prime Minister

Dinesh Tiwari, senior counsel for the petitioner (Jai Entertainment Network Pvt Ltd), told Mid-day,

My clients had lent crores to Bohra Brothers, but even after giving them enough time they have intentionally and deliberately not cleared the full sum. The firm would pay in instalments, and at times, did not even honour cheques, causing serious financial losses to my clients, who then decided to move the high court. The owner, Sunil Bohra, is well known in the film industry, as he had produced Gangs of Wasseypur, Shahid, Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu Weds Manu: Returns, Mastram, etc.

He further added,

The court had passed an order in favour of my client in December 2017, but the Bohras did not honour the order. We again moved court, which directed the matter to Justice P. D. Kode for arbitration. When the Bohras failed to adhere to the arbitration order as well, an official liquidator was appointed, as per the HC order dated April 12, 2018, and the liquidation process began. We have also registered a criminal case against Sunil Bohra and his company with the EOW

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The Accidental Prime Minister

The Petition

In their original complaint filed before the HC, the petitioner (Jai Entertainment Network Pvt Ltd) said they had entered into an agreement dated 29th August 2012, whereby the petitioner and the company had agreed to jointly produce, distribute and market a film ‘Trishna’ under certain terms and conditions. Though the agreement provides that the petitioner would give Rs. 2 crore towards the total cost of acquisition, prints, distribution and marketing of the film, the fact is that the petitioner gave a total of Rs 4 crore.

As there were no updates from the respondents with respect to the release of the movie, the petitioner asked for his money back. After various attempts, on January 6, 2013, the respondent agreed to pay back Rs. 4 crore in two instalments, one cheque for Rs. 1.50 crore and the second for Rs. 2.50 crore. Both cheques bounced due to insufficient funds. The petitioner kept following up with the respondent and got back Rs. 2.25 crore and a balance of Rs 1.75 crore, for which a cheque of Rs. 50 lakh was issued. This, too, bounced and a case was lodged under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881, which is pending, and another case with the EOW, Crime Branch.

In Response

In reply to the petition, the respondent admitted to receiving Rs. 4 crore and repaying Rs. 3.30 crore. However, he also said that the petitioner had agreed to give Rs. 6 crore, and as the petitioner refused to pay the balance Rs. 2 crore, the respondent suffered losses, and hence, could not repay the Rs. 4 crore lent by the petitioner. In the arbitration proceedings by the petitioner, the balance payable is Rs. 70 lakh.

Court Order

Justice K. R. Shriram in his order stated: “The petitioner is directed to advertise the petition in two local newspapers and also in the Maharashtra Government Gazette. The petitioner shall also deposit Rs. 10,000 with the prothonotory and Senior Master of the court towards publication charges, within a period of two weeks from the date of this order. Notwithstanding the above order, I am still inclined to give one opportunity to the respondent to avoid winding up. The respondent shall deposit a sum of Rs. 70 lakh with the prothonotary and senior master within three weeks. If this amount is deposited on the Monday following the date of order, the petition will be placed for direction. If this is not deposited, the time to pay the amount of Rs. 10,000 to the senior prothonotary for advertisement within two weeks shall commence from the date of expiry of three weeks.”

Advocate Tiwari said, “The respondents failed to adhere to this order. Worse, they started shooting for their new film and even started publicizing the same. Therefore, we moved the HC again, and accordingly, the official liquidator was appointed. My clients are entitled for interest and other damages apart from the money owed.”

Order from Liquidator

In his letter, addressed to Censor Board of India dated August 16, 2018, P. A. Atchuta Ramaiah, official liquidator, HC, said: “By an HC order dated April 12, 2018, Bohra Bros. Production Pvt Ltd was ordered to be wound up, and an official liquidator is appointed as liquidator thereof. In view of the above, you are requested not to release any movie/film i.e. ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, produced by Bohra Bros Production Pvt Ltd., which is now in liquidation, or not to give any licence or permission to release their film without the court’s permission.”

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