Mumbai: In a major relief for actor Jackie Shroff, the division bench of the Bombay High Court of Justices Ramesh Dhanuka and Virendra Bisht, on Tuesday, dismissed a plea filed by his former business partner and Singapore resident Ratnam Iyer that sought to withdraw 2 million US dollars from Shroff’s account.
Both Shroff and his partner - Iyer, were shareholders in a private firm that held shares in Multi Screen Media (MSM) private limited, which was earlier known as Sony Entertainment private limited.
In April 2010, Shroff had filed a criminal complaint with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police disputing his signature on a document requesting a bank to find a buyer for their shares. He had filed the case against Iyer and other partners.
Subsequently, in 2011, the partners settled the dispute with Iyer agreeing to give 1.5 million US dollars to Shroff soon after he withdrew the case lodged with the EOW. Another 2 million US dollars was agreed to be paid to Shroff after his shares in MSM were sold.
The settlement had a clause making mandatory for Iyer to inform Shroff about the sale of the shares. And the actor was supposed to not file any complaint against Iyer.
However, in June 2011, Shroff's wife Ayesha wrote an email to Iyer informing him that they have learnt that an agreement has been signed for the sale of MSM. To this, Iyer responded that the actual sale was yet to take place and in his reply he further said that whenever a deal would be cracked, "she might take the money and run for which she was waiting. (sic)”
The response did not go well with Ayesha, who replied in another mail that “no one wish to continue to fraternize with a forger.”
Iyer took exception to this mail and claimed that it has caused huge damage to his reputation. He accordingly moved an arbitrator, who concluded that the mail was defamatory and thus breached the settlement clauses. The arbitrator further held Shroff was not entitled to the 3.5 million US dollars, as settled earlier.
Shroff challenged this order before a bench of Justice Suresh Gupte, who by a detailed judgment in May last year concluded that the mails of Ayesha, in no manner brought disrepute to Iyer, wherein he could seek damages to the tune of 3.5 million US dollars.
The bench further held that Ayesha was not an authorised agent by Jackie and thus her emails does not breach the settlement arrived by the two partners. Aggrieved by this order, Iyer challenged it before the division bench led by Justice Dhanuka that upheld the orders.
Iyer also made an additional request to withdraw Rs 2 million US dollars as agreed in the settlement. He claimed that since Shroff has breached the settlement provisions, he (Iyer) was entitled to take away the entire amount deposited in HDFC bank.
The judges, however, found no merit in his appeal and dismissed the same, with liberty to Shroff to file appropriate proceedings for withdrawing the amount.