Lawyers as Liars?: Ashutosh Dubey v. Netflix INC & Ors.
The Delhi High Court on 5th May 2020, dismissed the application filed by Mr. Ashutosh Dubey against Netflix, INC. & ORS. stating that the Plaintiff ( herein for brevity referred to as “ Mr. Ashutosh Dubey” ) has not made a prima facie case and no injunction will be granted as the Plaintiff has not suffered any irreparable loss or injury.
CORAM: Hon'ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva.
Plaintiff an Advocate by profession filed a Suit against the Defendant (herein for brevity referred as “Netflix, INC. & ORS.”) inter alia seeking a permanent injunction against the Defendants from further airing or streaming the episodes of web series (TV show) “HASMUKH” particularly episode 4 of season 1. The dialogue concerning which the subject suit has been filed is: “ Aisa pehla shehar Dekha Hai Humne Jahan Chor Bhi Bade Amir Hote Hain. Lekin Yahan Unka Naam Chor Nahin “Vakeel” Hota Hai. Aap ke Vakeel sabse Bade Kaminey aur Chor hote hain. Yah Kanoon ke Thekedar Jo Kabhi Nahin Honge girftar, Kyunki ye Kalam ke sath karte hain balatkar. Are bhaiya, Log kehte Hain Ki Kanoon Andha hota hai main kehta hoon Kanoon ganda hota hai Kyunki Har Vakeel ke haath mein Chhota Sa Itna Danda Hota Hai.”
The Plaintiff contended that the episode contains derogatory remarks against the entire legal fraternity.
Further, Plaintiff stated that the intention of filing the suit is not to highlight defamation of an individual but to restrain the Defendant from webcasting, passing derogatory remarks, casting aspersions, making scandalous statements, or comments on the legal community.
Plaintiff further added in his contentions that the remarks made in the web series “HASMUKH" will lower the image of lawyers and Plaintiff among the public at large and will bring disrepute to the legal profession and lawyers in the eyes of the general public.
The Defendants contended that the Plaintiff has failed to show any prima facie case and has not been able to even show any personal injury or violation of any right entitling him to grant an injunction.
While arguing further, Defendant stated that the storyline of the show is based on a dark comedy about a protagonist who kills every evil and the debauched person from various fields and professions that he encounters with.
The Defendants in their arguments gave the reference of established principles of law with regards to filing an action against the making of defamatory and derogatory remarks about a class of individuals who have been upheld by Judges of various Courts of the world and also by law journals.
It was further contended by the Defendant that lawyers cannot be defamed as “class of persons”, nor can the Plaintiff be defamed by a General reference to lawyers.
It was contended that the perusal of the storyline and statements made by the protagonist was only meant to be taken in the context of a figment of imagination and humor and not as a matter of truth.
Further, Defendant contended that if an ad interim injunction is granted it would amount to interference in the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by our Constitution under Article 19(1)(a) to the Defendant and will take away the Liberty given to a creative artist under the essence of democracy to project the picture of the society in a manner he perceives.
The Defendant further stated that the basic principle required under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2 of The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for grant of an ad-interim injunction has not been violated by the Defendant.
The Court after hearing both the parties dismissed the application and stated that, “the Plaintiff has not been able to show the impugned comment in any manner refers to the plaintiff or refers to a definite group of individuals or lawyers out of the entire class of lawyers to which the Plaintiff belongs.”
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Harsheen Kaur Bedi is currently studying law.
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Edited By: Swati Tolambia
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