On the night of Ramzan Eid, Bollywood megastar Salman Khan was served with a legal notice by his next-door neighbor Ketan R. Kakkad, a retired NRI from the United States, asking an astounding Rs 295 crore in ‘costs in cause.’
The notification was delivered by Kakkad through the actor’s team, DSK Legal — one of the country’s best law companies – with a week to comply, according to insiders.
“It’s been over a week and they still haven’t responded. When questioned by IANS, a gloomy Kakkad confirmed, “We would continue the matter until it logically ends as per the honourable court ruling.”
The news came shortly after Bombay City Civil Court Judge A. H. Laddhad issued an order in a notice of application for interim reliefs filed by Khan against Kakkad in a defamation suit.
In his March 23 judgement, Judge Laddhad effectively dismissed all of Khan’s arguments in his petition for an interim ‘gag order’ against Kakkad, awarding the latter ‘costs in cause’ while dismissing the case, resulting in a setback for the actor.
Khan had brought social media companies including Google, YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Sandeep Phogat, Paras Bhat, and Ujjwal Narain as parties, and it became one of the most closely watched cases this year.
The plaintiff (Khan) requested, among other things, that the defendants (Kakkad, et al) refrain from defaming the actor and his Panvel farmhouse on all public domains and social media platforms.
Judge Laddhad ruled in favour of the defendants after several days of intense arguments on both sides — with powerful replies to DSK Legal’s battery by Kakkad’s formidable team of Y.P. Singh, Abha Singh, and Aditya Pratap — surprising the plaintiffs.
In his demand for Rs 295 crore in ‘costs in cause,’ Kakkad details how he and his wife Anita Kakkad, a senior citizen NRI couple from the United States, had been harassed, tortured, and stopped from approaching their plot of property adjacent to Khan’s massive Arpita Farms in Raigad for years.
“On the other hand, Salman Khan is a highly wealthy, well-known, and politically influential individual who, with the help of his staff, worked tirelessly to bring us to our knees. All with the ultimate goal of illegally grabbing our Raigad land plots and driving us out of India for good,” Kakkad explained.
Justifying his demand for his ‘costs in cause,’ Kakkad argued that “Rs 295 crore is nothing” in comparison to US standards in similar lawsuits, and “nothing for a person of the magnitude of the ill-advised Khan.”
The sum would barely cover the lawyers’ fees, compensation to scores of online experts and foot-soldiers, advisors in various fields, and his wife, all of whom worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to conduct research, collect background material, documents, evidence, and so on, compile and tabulate it properly for the benefit of the court, he said.
“However, if the other side dithers and fails to clear our ‘costs in cause’ within a reasonable time, we have kept all of our options open, including moving the US courts for redress as the Khan side has defamed us globally through such false and mischievous litigation, as well as serve as an example to others,” Kakkad warned.