The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to grant any urgent relief to jailed gangster Rajendra Nikalje, alias Chhota Rajan, who had filed a plea against web series “Scoop”, noting that the series was already released on Netflix.
A vacation bench of Justice S G Dige directed the makers and producers of the series, including Hansal Mehta and Netflix Entertainment Services India on whose platform the series has been released, to file their affidavits in response to Rajan's plea by June 7.
The jailed gangster had on Thursday moved the court against the web series, saying that the “use or misuse of the attributes of his personality” without his prior consent amounted to infringement of his “personality rights” as well as defamation.
When the court was informed that the series has been released and all the six episodes were available, Rajan's advocate Mihir Desai said the makers could be directed to remove his name and image from the series.
Justice Dige, however, refused to pass any order granting any relief to Rajan.
“The series is already released. All the episodes are published. We will see on the next date. Let reply affidavits be filed by all the defendants. List the matter on June 7,” the court said.
The bench also permitted Rajan to amend his suit to change the reliefs sought by him and also to justify how it was a matter of intellectual property rights.
Senior counsel Ravi Kadam, appearing for Netflix, told the court that Rajan has been convicted in the case of murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey and the judgment is available in public domain.
“In such circumstances, anyone can use his name or image,” Kadam said.
The bench then asked what if he (Rajan) was acquitted in the appeal filed by him in the high court.
To this, Kadam pointed out a Supreme Court judgment that said till the appeal is pending the lower court judgment convicting a person stands.
Desai told the court that Rajan was not disputing the fact that he has been convicted in the case, but he is the only one whose real name and image has been used.
“Everybody else's name and image is changed then why is it that only Rajan's name and image is used as is,” Desai said, adding that Rajan has a copyright on his image.
Justice Dige then jokingly said what happens in cases of twins.
To this, Desai replied, “fortunately or unfortunately Rajan does not have a twin”.
Rajan, who is presently lodged at Tihar jail, sought a stay on the release of the series and an order to take down the trailer.
He also sought a permanent injunction restraining the makers of the series, including Hansal Mehta and Netflix Entertainment Services India, from infringement of his personality rights.
Rajan has also sought damages of Re 1 to be paid to him or for the makers to deposit the money earned by them through the telecast of the trailer of the series, and for the amount to be used for "public good or upliftment of the society".
The makers of the series were never permitted to use or misuse Rajan's name and image, associate him to any voice and/or any events, without prior permission, the petition stated.
In June 2011, journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was killed. Rajan and 11 others, including journalist Jigna Vora, were accused in the case. In May 2018, Rajan and eight others were convicted in the case. Vora was acquitted.
"Scoop", a six-episode Netflix series, is inspired by Vora's 2019 jail memoir "Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison". PTI SP ARU NR NR
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