The Hon’ble Delhi High Court dismissed the Writ Petition filed by Mehul Choksi. It primarily sought a direction to MEITY to regulate the content of the series ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’ which, according to Mehul Choksi, an accused in the nearly $2 billion PNB scam, is prejudicial to the legal cases pending against him and also to his reputation and goodwill.
The trailer of the said Series is streaming on Netflix indicates the same to be a documentary series covering the controversies of India’s biggest tycoons i.e., Vijay Mallya, Neerav Modi, Subrato Roy, and Raju Ramalingam. The Series was due for release on Netflix on September 2, 2020, and accordingly, Choksi had also sought for an injunction and/or pre-screening of the Series as interim relief.
The Petitioner’s Take
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal appearing for Choksi argued on fundamental rights that Choksi is entitled to a fair trial and reputation and would suffer great injustice should the Series be allowed to stream with references to him and the legal cases pending against him.
The Respondent’ Take
The counsels for Netflix rigorously defended the allegations because the writ petition was not maintainable as the Government does not regulate content on OTT. They also relied on the laws of freedom of speech and expression to argue that the Series is like a documentary referring facts which are widely discussed in the public domain even otherwise and aren’t sub-judice in these circumstances.
Additionally, the counsel for MEITY in the matter also informed the court that MEITY does not regulate content on OTT platforms and therefore was not a necessary party to the Writ.
Lex Witness’ Editorial Take
“I am afraid; if writ petitions are invoked to settle the differences between two private parties, it shall lead to setting a bad precedent. The enforcement of a private right, no matter how disguised it is, cannot be entertained as a Writ Petition. The issue between Netflix and Mehul Choksi is a subject matter or trial and can be adjudicated only by way of a trial. Hence, the Hon’ble High Court has rightly dismissed the Writ Petition filed on behalf of Mr. Choksi.” said, PBA Srinivasan, Editor in Chief, Lex Witness
Netflix was represented by Senior Advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul and Dayan Krishnan along with Saikrishna Rajagopal, Thomas George, Sidharth Chopra, Tanvi Sinha, Savni Dutt and Manas Gaur from Saikrishna and Associates.
The matter was heard at length by Hon’ble Justice Navin Chawla, Delhi High Court, over a video conference. The Hon’ble court agreed with the Respondents that since Government does not regulate content on OTT, the Writ Petition filed by Choksi was not maintainable and dismissed the Petition.
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