The Telangana High Court will watch the web series ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’ before deciding whether to permit over-the-top platform Netflix to release it or not.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy decided to watch the documentary based on the life of Satyam Computers founder B Ramalinga Raju and others while hearing an appeal by Netflix Entertainment Services to set aside a lower court order that restrained it from broadcasting the series.
The bench on Friday directed the counsel for Raju to file a counter affidavit in the appeal filed by Netflix.
During his arguments, Netflix counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul submitted that the documentary has been made on the basis of material available in the public domain. He said that the trial court had stalled the release without hearing the OTT platform.
He brought to the court’s notice that Ramalinga Raju and others were already convicted in the Satyam scam case. He also argued that the airing of the web series would have no impact on Raju’s appeal against his conviction.
Kaul, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, suggested to the bench to watch the documentary. However, the Judges told him to watch the documentary along with Raju’s counsel S Niranjan Reddy as this would clear the doubts, if any.
Kaul did not agree with the suggestion on the ground that it would set a bad precedent of seeking prior permission for the release of any documentary. He also contended that staying the release of the documentary after watching the 49-second trailer is a violation of freedom of expression and of the press.
The bench, however, remarked that freedom of the press should have self-regulation.
While deciding to watch the documentary, the bench posted the case to September 25 for further hearing.
On September 1, a city civil court had restrained Netflix from airing the series over Raju’s objections.
Bad Boy Billionaires based on the lives of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, diamantaire Nirav Modi, Sahara India Group chief Subrata Roy and Raju was scheduled to be released on September 2.
Raju had sought a stay on the release of the web series on the ground that it would invade his privacy, defame him, and may also impact his appeal against his conviction in the Satyam case.
Netflix has already released the trailer of the web series.
The over Rs 7,000-crore Satyam scam came to light on January 7, 2009, when Raju confessed that the company’s account books and profits were inflated over many years to the tune of several crores of rupees.
A special CBI court on April 9, 2015, sentenced Raju, his two brothers and seven others to seven years in prison in the case, said to be India’s biggest corporate fraud.
However, a month later the Metropolitan Sessions court suspended their sentence.
Raju, his brother Rama Raju and the company’s former Chief Financial Officer Srinivas Vadlamani were released on bail in 2018.