The Bombay high court on July 20 directed two film laboratories — Bombay Film Lab and National Film Development Corporation — to release and hand over possession of negatives and print positives of 12 films of Dada Kondke to Everest Entertainment LLP. The order was passed in Everest’s interim application in its pending suit to declare it the lawful owner and absolute copyright holder of rights in 12 films of late Dada Kondke, including Marathi films Songadya, Andhala Marto Dola, Pandu Hawaldar, Bot Lavin Tithe Gudgulya, Aali Angawar, Sasarche Dhotar, Muka Ghya Muka and Hindi film Andheri Raat Mein Diya Tere Haath Mein.

Everest claimed that the rights were bequeathed by Kondke’s January 1998 will to his sister’s daughter-in-law, Manik More, who, in turn, assigned the rights in favour of Everest on August 10, 2022. Everest’s application said, a Pune court granted probate of this will in 2008. Everest sought interim relief against two trustees — Hridaynath Deshmukh and actress Usha Chavan — of the Shahir Dada Kondke Pratishthan, who are claiming ownership rights in these films. They had filed a suit against the two laboratories in a Pune court.

On May 3, the high court restrained the Pratishthan and its two trustees from infringing on Everest’s rights in the films and restrained the laboratories from handing over negatives and print positives or any other material of the 12 films to the trustees or anyone other than Everest.

The advocate of the trustees said, any further relief to Everest will come in the way of relief sought in the suit before the Pune court. But Justice Riyaz Chagla said that the advocate’s contention was “misconceived” as the suit was against the laboratories, and not against Everest, and it could not be a bar on granting of any further relief to Everest. Justice Chagla said that at a prima facie stage, the high court had held that the will appeared to indicate that rights in the subject films had been bequeathed by Kondke to Manik More. Considering that the high court had found that Everest had made out a prima facie case that they had been assigned rights in the 12 films, Justice Chagla explained that it would only follow that the plaintiff was entitled to the negatives and print positives of the subject films. He kept the rights and contentions of the trustees open for adjudication on August 23.