Mehul Choksi tells HC “Left India even before case was filed against me”

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

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court was on Wednesday informed that PNB loan scam case accused diamentarian Mehul Choksi left India prior to the registration of a case against him and hence his not being in India should not be read against him.

“Mehul Choksi left India prior to the registration of the FIR by the CBI, and hence his not being in India cannot be read against him,” advocate Vijay Aggarwal told a division bench of the high court presided over 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 the postponement of the release of Netflix original webseries “Bad Boy Billionaires: India”.

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

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 jurisdiction and for that your conduct and issues are also important.”

“You have changed 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 did not require Choksi to be an Indian citizen.

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

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

“No writ can be issued in vacuum. There is a red corner notice issued against him… And here he makes an magnanimous offer to join investigation via video conferencing,” said Kaul.

Kaul further said 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 most are already out in the public domain.

“I have had the privilege of watching the 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,” Kaul told the division bench.

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

“Such can never be the law,” he argued.

Aggarwal asked whether even in such circumstance the courts will be without jurisdiction to pass any appropriate direction against unregulated OTT platforms such as Netflix.

The court will now hear the matter next on September 29.

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