Netflix series faces Sahara storm in India


India’s Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by Netflix challenging the order passed by a civil court in Araria, Bihar, restraining the streaming giant from releasing a documentary series called Bad Boys Billionaires.

The civil court order restricts Netflix and its producers, directors, employees, officers and associates etc. from releasing, transmitting, distributing, exhibiting, performing or communicating to the public, the promo and the documentary series Bad Boy Billionaires by any means or technology.

A Sahara Group entity and a sector manager of Sahara in Bihar had filed an injunction suit for restraining Netflix from releasing the said series against Sahara business group’s chairman and business entities, claiming it was not only defamatory but also offending to the privacy and trademarks of their company.

Sahara has also filed a criminal complaint against Netflix and its directors Abhishek Nag, Reginald Shawn Thompson, Neha Sinha and the producers Nick Read, Reva Sharma and Iqbal Kidwai, alleging criminal offenses under the Information Technology Act, 2000, the Indian Penal Code and the Trademarks Act.

The Supreme Court declined to entertain Netflix challenging the Bihar trial court order restraining it from using the name of Sahara chairman Subrata Roy in its upcoming web series Bad Boy Billionaires, which was slated for release in India on Wednesday.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, however, granted Netflix the liberty to move the Patna High Court challenging the order passed by the Araria trial court.

The top court, declining to hear the appeal, said: “We are sorry.”

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Sahara India, opposed the plea filed by Netflix.

Singh contended before the bench that the order was passed by a civil judge and if there were to be an appeal, then it would have to be filed before the district judge and not before the high court or the apex court.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Netflix, contended before the bench that the apex court should transfer to itself all the petitions in connection with the web series, which are pending in various high courts.

The top court issued notice on the separate petition filed by Netflix seeking transfer of the matters pending before different high courts.