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Delhi HC declines Mehul Choksi's plea seeking pre-screening of ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’

By Smriti Tripathi

The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed the plea of Mehul Choksi seeking pre-screening of his upcoming documentary titled “Bad Boy Billionaires”, which is scheduled to be released on September 2 and to postpone its release on Netflix. A single-judge bench of Justice Naveen Chawla, while refusing to grant him a preview, said that there are not any regulations to regulate the content on the over-the-top media service, and asked him to approach the acceptable forum or file a lawsuit within the matter.

The documentary is claimed to support the increase and fall of India's most infamous billionaires including Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and other business tycoons accused in several alleged scams. During the hearing, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul appeared for Netflix and said that there's no general regulation to regulate the content on the OTT. He said that only two minutes are dedicated to Choksi.

Kaul said that the documentary series is based on Nirav Modi while giving the details. He said that the series shows that Nirav Modi had worked together with his uncle and many other interviews that Choksi has given to the news channels including Reuters and BBC are shown and these are already within the property right. Kaul said that there's no relevance to Choksi case which is pending adjudication here.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, also appearing for Netflix, opposed the petition and submitted that Choksi may be a fugitive and has taken the nationality of another country. He cannot come and claim relief here. The release of content having a possibly prejudicial effect on pending investigations and trials cares and makes sure that no prejudice is caused to accused persons pending investigation or trial within the matter. It said that the petitioner should be a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, was the promoter of Gitanjali Gems Ltd and has been falsely accused of varied crimes in India.

“The settled principle has always been and should remain that trial by media can't be permitted and courts are obligated to intervene and protect the rights of the accused where a premature or unfair portrayal during a movie would unfairly prejudice the accused person's investigation or trial,” the plea said.

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