Netflix advocates for free speech in Indian courts and tycoons over ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’

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* Netflix locked in legal fight with Indian TV tycoons

* Indian court suspended publication of documentary series

* Netflix tells court it will suffer losses due to filing of injunction

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI, Sept. 14 (Reuters) – An Indian court decision to block the release of a Netflix Inc series on four Indian tycoons facing fraud claims “freezes free speech” and financially harms the ‘company, argued the US streaming giant in a court case seen by Reuters.

“Bad Boy Billionaires” is a documentary series about alcohol mogul Vijay Mallya, Subrata Roy of the Sahara group, Indian IT director Ramalinga Raju and jeweler Nirav Modi. Netflix suspended the show this month by order of a state court where Sahara alleged a violation of Roy’s privacy rights. is currently out on bail in a case where the court ordered him to pay back billions of dollars to investors in a scheme that has been ruled illegal. Roy has denied wrongdoing in the case and has already reimbursed investors, his lawyer said.

Claiming freedom of expression in an appeal to the High Court of East Bihar State, Netflix said the documentary series was an assimilation of information available in the public domain. The deposit has not been reported before.

The pre-publication injunction granted by the court “freezes free speech,” Netflix said in the filing earlier this month, which was reviewed by Reuters. He argued that he has the right to freedom of expression “on a matter of public interest”.

Some Netflix shows in India have faced legal challenges and complaints from the police for obscenity or for hurting feelings. The ongoing legal dispute is among the most high-profile Netflix has faced in India, one of its main growth markets.

The Bihar court that issued the injunction earlier said the series “would certainly damage Roy’s reputation”. Sahara and Netflix declined to comment. Roy could not be reached for comment.

The US streaming giant has argued that it has invested large sums of money and is doing global publicity for the series. The injunction, Netflix argued, resulted in irreparable monetary loss and affected its goodwill and reputation.

Netflix describes “Bad Boy Billionaires” as an “investigative documentary series (which) explores the greed, fraud and corruption that built – and ultimately brought down – India’s most infamous tycoons.”

Netflix is ​​locked in a legal dispute not only with Sahara, but also with another businessman Raju whose story was set to appear in the series.

Raju, accused of a billion-dollar accounting fraud over a decade ago, had obtained an order from a separate state court against the show’s release, but Netflix challenged it in court. higher court, said A. Venkatesh, an attorney representing Raju.

Raju will continue to oppose the show’s exit, Venkatesh said.

Both Netflix calls will likely be heard in the coming days. It was not clear whether the other two tycoons – Modi and Mallya – had filed petitions against the show’s release.

Modi faces extradition attempts from India after his arrest in London last year for his alleged involvement in a $ 2 billion bank fraud. Mallya, too, is in Britain to fight India’s extradition request for alleged fraud on her deceased Kingfisher (LON 🙂 Airlines.

Modi and Mallya have denied any wrongdoing.

Zulfiquar Memon of Indian law firm MZM Legal, who is part of the team representing Modi in his extradition case, said they had not filed any case to stop the series from being published, but were “sitting on the fence “to follow the procedures in progress.

A lawyer for Mallya could not be reached immediately for comment.

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