LONDON/CALIFORNIA – The Supreme Court of California has ruled in favour of Rahat Fateh Ali’s former international promoter and arts agent Salman Ahmed against a California-based show promoter in a lawsuit of $2.2 million alleging defamation, economic duress and extortion.
California Superior Court judge Carrie A. Zepeda has ruled that Salman Ahmed had acted honestly in his dealings with the show promoter and plaintiff Bikramjeet Singh whose Bollywood Events LLC through Karl Kalra’s Jeevan Sathi LLC had entered into a contract for a show on October 5 in 2019 at St Jose featuring global sensation Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
According to the court documents, Bikramjeet Singh and his company “Bollywood” claimed that they had been victims of alleged extortion, economic duress, common counts, unfair business practices and severe defamation by Salman Ahmed and Rahat who allegedly extorted $30,000 from him.
The case went on trial before the Superior Court of California, Country of Santa Carla, where Salman Ahmed represented himself and Rahat while Singh appeared through his legal team and Rahat Fateh Ali didn’t appear before the court. For the previous hearings, Salman Ahmed spent over $50,000 on lawyers but then decided to represent the case himself.
Singh and Karl Kalra had agreed to promote a Rahat concert in San Jose, California, for a price of $250,000 for the concert with Salman Ahmed but Singh admitted that before the concert he had only paid $150,000 to Kalra. The court heard that Salman Ahmed had sold the show to Sathi who had further sold it to Singh.
Bikramjeet Singh claimed before the court that Salman Ahmed had agreed to reduce the price for Khan's performance to $150,000 so that Singh was only obligated to pay Kalra $150,000. On the evening of the concert, $100,000 was outstanding on the contract between Singh and Sathi. The show started two hours late and Rahat appeared on the stage only after $30,000 of the $100,000 was given to Salman Ahmed on Kalra's behalf. When the concert started two hours late, Salman Ahmed told the crowd that the concert was starting late because the promoter had not paid the full amount to the artist on time, the court heard.
Bikramjeet Singh told the court that he was not obligated to pay the $30,000 or the additional $100,000 because Ahmed agreed to reduce Khan's concert fee and so $30,000 were extorted from him and his reputation was damaged.
Salman Ahmed denied the allegations and argued that he did not have the ability to modify the contract between Singh and Sathi; Kalra threatened Ahmed and Khan with a lawsuit if Khan performed before Sathi was paid on his contract with Singh; Kalra later instructed Ahmed to accept the $30,000 from Singh the night of the concert; Ahmed gave the money to Kalra and did not keep any of it; and that Ahmed told the truth to the audience in an effort to protect his and Khan's worldwide reputations.
The judge ruled that Singh had never entered into a contract with Salman or Rahat; Singh was bound by the agreement to pay the full amount and Salman didn’t have the ability to modify the contract; it was Singh who breached the contract when he failed to pay $250,000 to Kalra before the concert was scheduled to begin and on the day of the concert, Singh owed $100,000 to Kalra.
The judge found that Salman Ahmed did mention to thousands of Rahat fans as a truth statement that the artist was appearing late because he was not paid full amount on time but didn’t mention Singh or his company “Bollywood” and therefore didn’t defame Singh. The court found Salman Ahmed to be a credible witness whose account before the judge was factual and based on truth. The court concludes that neither Salman Ahmed nor Khan wrongfully demanded money from Singh or Bollywood and it was Singh who failed to pay $250,000. The court ruled that Ahmed and Khan did not extort money from Singh or Bollywood and both were innocent hostages due to Singh's breach.
The court found that Singh was not a credible witness and rejected all his claims. Entering the judgement in favour of Salman Ahmed and Rahat, the judge concluded that Singh did not prove any of its causes of action against Ahmed or Khan and therefore Singh and Bollywood shall take nothing by way of the lawsuit.
The court records show that Bikramjeet Singh presented nearly half a dozen witnesses before the judge to back up his claim but the testimony of all his witnesses was rejected by the court. Salman Ahmed and Rahat presented no witness and relied on material facts of the case.
Salman Ahmed said: “I am thankful that we have been vindicated by the California court. The claim was a conspiracy against Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. This was aimed at causing him a damage of over $2.2 million and a reputational loss. I fought this case with full knowledge and belief that I have to win this case to defeat the conspiracy against Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Truth prevailed before the court and we won on each and every point of the claim. Our credibility further strengthened. I decided to fight the case because I knew the truth and facts were on our side.”
Salman Ahmed is a globally renowned promoter for over three decades in the entertainment industry achieving highest of ranks as a concert promoter who has been associated with events such as The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, The Buckingham Palace, United Nations General Assembly, FIFA Qatar World Cup, Oxford University Music Faculty, Dubai Expo 2020 and hundreds of concerts globally. He worked with Rahat Fateh Ali for over a decade.
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