Kantara plagiarism case: HC grants anticipatory bail for Rishab Shetty, producer
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday (February 8) granted anticipatory bail to ‘Kantara’ director Rishab Shetty and producer Vijay Kiragandur, in a case under the Copyright Act 1956, relating to plagiarism allegations over the song ‘Varaha Roopam‘ in the superhit film.
While granting anticipatory bail to Shetty and Kiragandur, Justice A Badhrudeen imposed a specific condition that the film ‘Kantara’ will not include the number ‘Varaha Roopam’, till an interim order or final order on the copyright infringement has been decided by a civil court.
The two petitioners had been named in a criminal case filed against them at the Kozhikode town police station by Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing company. The allegation was that the ‘Varaha Roopam’ song used in the film was an unauthorised copy of the ‘Navarasam’ song which was released five years ago.
According to the Kerala high court order, ‘Navarasam’ was exhibited in Kappa TV owned by Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Co Ltd and performed by the Thaikkudam Bridge band. The FIR was lodged alleging commission of the offence punishable under Section 63 of the Copyright Act in October last year shortly after the release of the film on September 30.
The police who have been investigating the case have found prima facie evidence that copyright infringement has allegedly taken place. On receiving the summons for police interrogation, Shetty and Kiragandur had recently approached the high court for anticipatory bail.
Varaha Roopam, an independent creation
Seeking anticipatory bail, the duo argued that ‘Varaha Roopam’ is an independent creation and has no connection with ‘Navarasam’. Kirgandur and Shetty said that the complainants have already filed two separate civil suits alleging copyright infringement. The suits were found to be not maintainable by the district courts of Kozhikode and Palakkad. The case is pending in the high court over a jurisdictional issue – whether the suit should be presented before the commercial or civil court.
According to the petitioners, the prosecution does not have any material to prove that ‘Varaha Roopam’ is similar to ‘Navarasam’. Instead, they are merely relying “on the opinion of someone who viewed the film and saw some similarities”, said the petitioners, adding that they were ready to cooperate with the investigation by subjecting themselves for interrogation and other purposes and prayed for anticipatory bail.
Prima Facie evidence
Opposing the anticipatory bail, the Public Prosecutor argued that the prosecution had collected material that prima facie substantiated the FIR allegations.
According to the public prosecutor, the DIVO company which are the distributors of ‘Navarasam’ and ‘Varaha Roopam’ had noticed the similarity between the two songs and shared it with the concerned parties. They had then participated in a Google meet to settle the matter amicably. The public prosecutor said that prima facie an offence punishable under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is made out in the case and in such circumstances, the arrest and interrogation of the person was necessary.
Other conditions for ‘Kantara’ makers
The duo was also directed by the high court to co-operate with the investigation, make themselves available for interrogation, and refrain from influencing witnesses, tampering with evidence, or getting involved in any other offence.