Netflix India screens three ‘Bad Boy’ episodes after legal row

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FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is pictured on a television in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California, U.S., January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

MUMBAI (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 had been set for release last month.

But 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 a request for comment.

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 among the most high-profile ones 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 has 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 Oct. 9, 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.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Abhirup Roy; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Alexander Smith)

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