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Naik Paranjpe gets CCI's 11th hour interim order to screen Reliance Big's Raavan


Naik Paranjpe & Co has successfully restrained the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) from preventing the release of the film Raavan in Karnataka after it won a rare favourable interim order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for clients Reliance Big Entertainment yesterday evening.

The CCI has passed the interim order under section 33 of the Competition Act which prohibited KFCC from "from taking any action direct or indirect, to prevent any exhibitor from exhibiting the film 'Raavan' or 'Ravanan' in the State of Karnataka if such exhibitors are willing and desirious to exhibit these films" until 22 June 2010.

Naik Paranjpe partner Ameet Naik lodged a complaint through senior counsel Ashwini Matta and advocate Rishi Agrawala before the CCI on 14 June and sought relief against the anti-competitive and discriminatory directions issued by KFCC which wanted to curb the exhibition of non-Kannada films in the State.

"All this is an embargo on freedom of trade and profession, there should be no fetter to release because ultimately it is a perishable commodity. The terms of these associations are such that if you are not part of the association you cannot really do business," said managing partner Ameet Naik.

Such a challenge to the alleged abuse of dominant position of the film association arose after the association allegedly debarred cinema exhibitors in Mysore from screening the film which was slated for release today.

Earlier pleas by Reliance BIG of the film being big budget and made in both Tamil and Hindi with separate star cast and separate censor certificates had failed to convince KFCC.

The matter came up before the CCI on 14 June for the first time and was listed for further consideration on 17 June.

However, since the Commission was not willing to offer an early hearing, Reliance BIG filed a writ petition, which in turn through its order dated 16 June disposed off the writ asking the commission to hear the matter on priority.

The High Court requested that the CCI "would be good enough to consider the request of Reliance Big favorably keeping in view that their film "Raavan" is going to be released on 18th June, 2010.”

"It even shows to foreign investors that there is antitrust law in India and it is effective," said Naik. "I would really compliment the CCI in sending a big message and making one of its first interim orders."

The interim order would remain effective until 22 June 2010, said the CCI, and parties will make detailed representations in the meantime.

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