HC adjourns hearing on Mehul Choksi’s plea against Netflix’s documentary

Published: Sep 29, 2020, 2:00 pm IST

New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court on Tuesday adjourned till October 13 the hearing on the plea filed by diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who is an accused in the PNB scam, against Netflix’s documentary titled “Bad Boy Billionaires: India”.

A division bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, hearing Choksi’s petition against the order of a single-judge bench, which had dismissed his earlier plea seeking pre-screening of the documentary, deferred the matter to October 13.

On the previous date of hearing, the bench was informed that Choksi left India prior to registration of a case and hence, his not being in India shall not be read against him.

“Mr. Mehul Choksi left India prior to any registration of FIR by the CBI and thus, his not being in India cannot be read against him,” said advocate Vijay Aggarwal before a division bench of the high court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan.

The arguments were made while the court was hearing an appeal filed by Choksi challenging a single bench order dismissing his plea seeking postponement of the release of Netflix’s Upcoming venture “Bad Boy Billionaire: India”.

Aggarwal’s submissions came in response to the arguments made by senior advocates Sanjay K. Kaul and Dayan Krishnan, who were appearing for Netflix submitted that Choksi is not entitled to any relief, as he is not a Citizen of India, as he has forsaken his citizenship, and therefore, not entitled to protection of any fundamental right.

While the said arguments were made, the bench said, “The Single judge has not closed your (Mehul Choksi) relief. You have the relief of a civil suit but you want to invoke a 226 jurisdiction and for that your conduct and issues are also important.”

“You have changed the Citizenship, you are no more a citizen of India,” Justice Jalan said. Responding to the queries of the court, Aggarwal said that Article 21 of the Constitution does not require Choksi to be an Indian Citizen.

Kaul argued that the entire writ petition filed by Choksi was based on a trailer which did not even mention or refer to him.

“He does not know what his grievance is because the trailer does not mention about him at all,” said Kaul.

“No writ can be issued in a vacuum. My Lords asked him five times that which trial is on…There is a red corner notice issued against him… And here he makes a magnanimous offer to join the investigation with video conferencing,” said Kaul.

Kaul further stated that he has watched the said series in question and can assure that it is nothing more than an amalgamation of various interviews of which are already out in the public domain.

“My Lords, I have had the privilege of watching this film and I can assure you as an officer of the court that this series is nothing but an amalgamation of interviews, snippets, etc., and we have a source chart of the said interviews,” said Kaul before the division bench.

Meanwhile, Aggarwal argued that if today Netflix is permitted to violate an individual’s fundamental right, then tomorrow, emboldened, it shall claim immunity from judicial scrutiny even if it violates the religion or telecasts shows propagating China’s stand against India or showing any documentary showing a wrong map of India.

“Such can never be the law, he argued. He posed a query as to whether even in such circumstances, the courts are without jurisdiction to pass any appropriate directions against the unregulated OTTs such as Netflix?” said Aggarwal.

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