It seems that the legal hits for Netflix are set to keep on coming. While Netflix has faced its share of complaints regarding previous shows in India (which have hurt sentiments or otherwise), it looks set to be engaged in its most high profile legal spat over the release of much-awaited “Bad Boy Billionaires”.
The streaming giant appears agitated from the stand of India’s judiciary that has stalled the streaming of documentary series highlighting the scams done by few business tycoons in India.
The much-anticipated show by Netflix, which was set to be streamed from September 2, has now been put on hold after the order of a state court (Bihar) where Sahara alleged violation of Subrata Roy’s privacy rights. The court in Bihar had previously given an injunction stating that the series “would certainly damage the reputation” of Mr. Roy.
It is worth noting that the Sahara group honcho is currently out on bail in the case where he was ordered by the apex court to repay billions of dollars to investors in a scheme which was subsequently found and deemed illegal. While Mr. Roy has always denied any foul play on his part, his counsel have since strenuously maintained that he has already repaid his investors as per the court’s direction.
Mr. Roy’s stance notwithstanding, another one of the quartets, the former chairman of Satyam Computers Mr. Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, whose story appears in the series, has secured a separate stay order against the show’s release. Raju is accused of $1 billion accounting fraud more than a decade ago in Satyam Computers scandal and is said to be determined to argue against the show’s release.
While Netflix has already challenged both orders in higher courts, it has led an already livid streaming giant to fight a battle on two fronts. Arguing for free speech in an appeal at the High Court of Bihar state, Netflix has stated that the Netflix original documentary series is an assimilation of information available in the public domain and has been made keeping in mind as such.
It has also objected and raised concern against the pre-publication injunction granted by the court as it “freezes free speech” and “on a matter of public interest”, is within its rights to go ahead with the show.
The U.S. streaming giant has contended that with a large amount of investment and worldwide publicity on the series, the injunction is sure to result in a potential irreparable monetary loss, impacting the brand’s goodwill and reputation.
Netflix has described “Bad Boy Billionaires” as an “investigative documentary series on liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, Sahara group’s Subrata Roy, Indian IT executive Ramalinga Raju and the Jewellery magnate Nirav Modi, exploring the greed, fraud and corruption that built them and ultimately brought the infamous tycoons down.
While both Netflix’s appeals are likely to be heard in the coming days, the other two businessmen – Modi and Mallya – have not taken any action as such so far against the series.
Nirav Modi is facing extradition attempts by India after his arrest in London last year over his alleged involvement in a $2 billion bank fraud. Mallya, too, continues to remain in Britain, fighting India’s extradition bid for alleged fraud at his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
While the legal teams of both these personalities are sure to track the developments which unfold, it remains to be seen that in the ensuing struggle, will the ostensibly named “Bad Boys” get their way or Netflix’s plea for free speech come up trumps. Stay tuned to this space for more juicy updates.