Lingaa Issue: Court orders to release movie with ₹10 Cr deposit

The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Thursday allowed the producer of Rajinikanth-starrer "Lingaa" to release the movie after depositing Rs 10 crore at the Indian Bank branch on the high court premises through the court registry before 12 noon on Friday (December 12).

Madras HC permitted the release after producer 'Rockline' Venkatesh deposited Rs. 3 crore in the court on Thursday.

Mired in controversies over the ownership of the original storyline, the Rajinikanth starrer ‘Lingaa’ will hit theatres at 1 a.m. on Friday.

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai on Thursday permitted ‘Rockline’ Venkatesh, producer of the movie, to release the movie on Friday on condition that he should deposit Rs.5 crore in cash besides providing bank guarantee for an equal sum to the credit of the Registrar (Administration) of the Bench.

Division Bench of Justices V. Dhanapalan and V.M. Velumani ordered that the movie could be released by 1 a.m. on Friday, the actor’s birthday, if the producer could deposit Rs.3 crore in the bank account of the Registrar through online transfer by Thursday evening.

After arguments, the counsel for the producer agreed.

Later in the evening, the High Court’s Registrar (Administration) M. Jothiraman confirmed to The Hindu that the producer had transferred Rs. 3 crore to an official account maintained by the High Court at State Bank of India.

The rest of the money as well as bank guarantee could be handed over by Monday.

The order was passed on a writ appeal filed by an aspiring film maker, K.R. Ravi Rathinam, alleging theft of his script for making the movie. Holding that the appellant could not invoke the writ jurisdiction of the High Court to redress his grievance, the judges gave him four weeks time to initiate civil as well as criminal proceedings before the lower courts concerned.

However, "in the interest of justice and taking into consideration, the principles of equity, justice and good conscience," they directed Lingaa’s producer to deposit Rs. 10 crore as pre-condition to permit the release of the movie. Assuming that the film was slated to be released on Friday afternoon, the judges initially ordered him to deposit the entire amount at least an hour before the release.

When Sanjay Ramaswami, counsel for both Mr. Venkatesh and Mr. Rajinikanth, objected to imposition of such condition and asked "what about our equity?" Mr. Justice Dhanapalan replied: "Letting you release the movie is the equity for you. You can take the matter on appeal to Supreme Court if you want. But this is our order. We will not change it."

In the post lunch session of the court, senior counsel R. Muthukumaraswamy requested the court to give at least a week’s time to the producer to make the deposit. Accepting his plea partly, the judges ordered that Rs.3 crore should be deposited on Friday and that the rest of the amount could be given to the Registrar along with the bank guarantee on Monday.

Few minutes after the modification of the order and subsequent to a conversation with his clients over the phone, Mr. Ramaswami represented the matter once again before the judges and wanted to know if the movie could be released at 1 am on Friday. But, the judges made it clear that it should not be released without depositing Rs.3 crore by cash or Demand Draft or online transfer.

When the counsel requested for providing him the RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) number of the High Court’s bank account to make the online payment immediately, the judges asked him to coordinate with the Registrar who in turn was directed to deposit the entire money in an interest bearing account of Indian Bank branch in the court campus until further orders.


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