Diamantaire Mehul Choksi who is accused in PNB scam has approached division bench of Delhi High Court through Advocate Vijay Aggarwal seeking pre-screening of a documentary titled “Bad Boy Billionaires”, which is scheduled to be released on September 2, on Netflix.
Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan has scheduled the matter for tomorrow.
Earlier his plea was dismissed by the single bench. The bench of Justice Naveen Chawla, while refusing to grant him a preview, said that there are no regulations to control the content on the over-the-top (OTT) media service, and asked him to approach the appropriate forum or file a civil suit in the matter.
The documentary is said to be based on the rise and fall of India’s most infamous billionaires including Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi other business tycoons accused in several alleged scams.
During the hearing, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul appeared for Netflix and said that there is no general regulation to control the content on the OTT. He said that only two minutes have been dedicated to Mehul Choksi.
Giving details about the series, Mr Kaul said that the documentary series is on Nirav Modi. He said that the series shows that Nirav Modi had worked with his uncle and several interviews that Mehul Choksi has given to the news channels including Reuters and BBC have been shown and these are already in the public domain.
Mr Kaul said that there is no relevance to Choksi case which is pending adjudication.
Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, also appearing for Netflix, opposed the petition and submitted that Mehul Choksi is a fugitive and has taken the nationality of some other country. He cannot come and claim relief here.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for Mehul Choksi, strongly opposed the submission made by Krishnan and submitted that his client is not a fugitive and that there is a stay on the proceedings in the Bombay High Court.
“I am just seeking a preview. Till the time Union of India won”t do anything, I will continue to come to my lords. Today they are making Bad Boy Billionaire tomorrow they will come and make something on courts,” Mr Aggarwal said.
“The petitioner is constrained to move the present petition to safeguard his right to reputation as well as to a fair trial and presumption of innocence. He also said that the matter is already under investigation and such documentary will prejudice the rights of the accused,” he added.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma appearing of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said, “We do not regulate or monitor online platform and this particular case is between the petitioner (Mehul Choksi) and Netflix.”
Choksi Choksi, through the petition, had sought directions to the Central government to take steps to regulate the Netflix Inc and Netflix Entertainment Service India LLP insofar as the release of content having a possibly prejudicial effect on pending investigations and trials is concerned and ensure that no prejudice is caused to accused persons pending investigation and/or trial in the matter.
It said that the petitioner is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, was the promoter of Gitanjali Gems Ltd and has been falsely accused of various crimes in India and is presently under investigation or standing trial by and before various authorities and/or courts.
“The settled principle has always been and must always remain that trial by media cannot be permitted and Courts are obligated to intervene and protect the rights of the accused where a premature or unfair portrayal in a motion picture would unfairly prejudice the accused person”s investigation or trial,” the plea said.