Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, his agent win $2.2m defamation case in California top court


Global singing sensation Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and his former international promoter and arts agent Salman Ahmed. — Reporter 

LONDON/CALIFORNIA: The Supreme Court of California has ruled in favour of Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’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 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, 2019 at St Jose featuring global sensation, Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

According to the court documents available with Geo News, Singh and his company “Bollywood” claimed that they had been victims of alleged extortion, economic duress, common counts, unfair business practises and severe defamation by Ahmed and Rahat, who have allegedly extorted $30,000 from him.

The case went on trial before the Superior Court of California, Country of Santa Carla, where Ahmed represented himself and Rahat while Singh appeared through his legal team. However, the singer didn’t appear before the court during the hearing. 

For the previous hearings, Ahmed spent over $50,000 on lawyers but then decided to represent the case himself.

Singh and Kalra had consented to promote a concert of Rahat in San Jose, California, for $250,000 in agreement with Ahmed but Singh admitted that before the concert he had only paid $150,000 to Kalra. 

The court heard that Ahmed had sold the show to Sathi who had further sold it to Singh.

Meanwhile, Singh claimed before the court that Ahmed had agreed to reduce the price for Rahat’s performance to $150,000 so that Singh was only obligated to pay Kalra $150,000. 

The court was told that on the evening of the concert, $100,000 was the outstanding amount 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 Ahmed on Kalra’s behalf. 

When the concert started, Ahmed told the crowd that the concert was starting late because the promoter had not paid the full amount to the artist on time. 

Singh maintained that he was not obligated to pay the $30,000 or the additional $100,000 because Ahmed agreed to reduce Rahat’s concert fee and so $30,000 were extorted from him while his reputation was also damaged.

However, Ahmed denied the allegations and argued that he did not have the ability to modify the contract between Singh and Sathi; and that Kalra threatened him and Rahat with a lawsuit. 

According to Zafrif, Rahat performed before Sathi was paid on his contract with Singh, Kalra later instructed Ahmed to accept the $30,000 from Singh on the night of the concert and Ahmed gave the money to Kalra and did not keep any of it. 

He claimed that he told the truth to the audience in an effort to protect his and Khan’s worldwide reputations.

After hearing the arguments, the judge ruled that Singh had never entered into a contract with Ahmed or Rahat; Singh was bound by the agreement to pay the full amount and Ahmed didn’t have the ability to modify the contract.

It stated that 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, he owed $100,000 to Kalra.

The judge found that Ahmed did mention to thousands of Rahat fans as a true statement that the artist was appearing late because he was not paid the full amount on time but didn’t mention Singh or his company “Bollywood” and therefore didn’t defame Singh. 

The court found Ahmed to be a credible witness whose account before the judge was factual and based on truth. 

The court concludes that neither Ahmed nor Rahat wrongfully demanded money from Singh or Bollywood and it was he who failed to pay $250,000. 

The court also observed that Ahmed and Rahat did not extort 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. 

In the judgment in favour of 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 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. 

Meanwhile, Ahmed and Rahat presented no witnesses and relied on material facts of the case.

“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 representational loss,” Ahmed said after the victory. 

“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 [was] further strengthened. I decided to fight the case because I knew the truth and facts were on our side,” he added.



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