A two-judge bench of the Telangana High Court will watch an episode of the Netflix Series ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’ that is based on former Satyam Computers Chairman B Ramalinga Raju. The division bench on Friday was hearing a plea filed by Netflix Entertainment Services India seeking the release of the documentary.
The court observed that it would first watch the episode on Raju before deciding on whether it should be allowed to release on the over-the-top (OTT) platform. The next hearing of the case will take place on September 25.
Appearing for Netflix, senior counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul claimed that the series is based on materials available in the public domain. “Stalling the release of the documentary by just watching a 49 second trailer is an attack on the freedom of expression of the writers & filmmakers”, said Kaul while arguing that the trial court stalled the release of the web series without hearing them.
On September 2, a civil court in Hyderabad restrained Netflix from releasing the documentary after Ramalinga Raju contended that the episode contained ‘half-truths’ that would defame him and invade his privacy in an unlawful manner. He further argued that the episode would prejudice people at a time when his case against conviction in the Satyam fraud case was still pending at the sessions court.
Countering this argument, Netflix counsel Kishan Kaul claimed the documentary would not have any impact on Raju’s appeal that was filed after he had been already convicted in the case. “This is a case where a trial court had even convicted Raju for the offence. Everything is in the public domain. Where is the question of defaming him coming from?,” Kaul contended
For now, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy have been given an access to watch the episode through a special web link and password provided by Netflix counsel. While hearing the case on Friday, the bench had also suggested whether Raju’s counsel Niranjan Reddy should also be allowed a preview in order to his clear doubts, but Netflix rejected the idea saying “pre-release approval, as a condition, if laid, would set a bad precedent.”
The controversial web series also chronicles the story of 3 other Indian billionaires–Vijay Mallya, Subrata Roy, Nirav Modi, their stupendous rise and fall from grace and power owing to deep-rooted scams.