Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Netflix India screens three 'Bad Boy Billionaires' episodes after legal row

The series follows four Indian tycoons facing fraud allegations, and had been subject to a court injunction

Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy is escorted by police to a court in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. Reuters
Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy is escorted by police to a court in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. Reuters

Netflix has released three episodes of its four-part series about four Indian tycoons facing fraud allegations after a state court lifted an injunction, a lawyer for the world's largest streaming service said on Monday.

The Bad Boy Billionaires: India documentary series about liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, Subrata Roy of the Sahara group, IT executive Ramalinga Raju and jeweller Nirav Modi was supposed to be released in September.

However, Netflix suspended it after an order from the Araria district court in the eastern Bihar state, where the Sahara group argued it would damage Roy's reputation.

The court lifted this injunction on Saturday, Amit Shrivastava, a lawyer for Netflix said.

Shrivastava declined further comment and it was not immediately clear why the court had overturned its previous order. The official order has yet to be released.

Netflix did not respond to Reuter’s request for comment.

Black ink is thrown at India's Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy's face as he arrives at the Supreme Court in New Delhi. The attacker claimed to be Manoj Sharma, a lawyer from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Roy was arrested after he failed to respond to the Supreme Court's summons to appear in court in connection with the case in which Sahara owes millions of investors over 22,000 crore Indian rupees (3.5 billion dollars). Prakash Singh / AFP Photo
Black ink is thrown at India's Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy's face as he arrives at the Supreme Court in New Delhi. Prakash Singh / AFP Photo

Sahara said in a statement that the documentary was "misleading", adding that it was "depicted through some disgruntled people who hold personal grudges against Sahara".

Roy is currently on bail, having been ordered by a court to repay billions of dollars to investors in a scheme which was found to be illegal. Roy denied wrongdoing in the case and his lawyer has said he has already repaid investors.

The ongoing dispute is one of the most high-profile Netflix has faced in India, one of its key growth markets, where some of its shows have faced court challenges and police complaints for obscenity or for hurting religious sentiments.

Netflix argued that halting the show's release "freezes free speech" and hurt it financially, Reuters reported.

On Monday, Netflix made three of the four episodes in the series available on its app for viewers in India. The episode focusing on Raju was unavailable.

Raju, who admitted to a $1 billion accounting fraud more than a decade ago, has obtained a separate injunction from a court in south India. That case was heard on Monday and the hearing will resume on Friday, A Venkatesh, a lawyer for Raju, told Reuters.

The other two businessmen, Modi and Mallya, are currently in Britain and face extradition proceedings.

Both have denied wrongdoing.

Updated: October 6, 2020 02:08 PM

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