HC order on plea to stay Netflix web series ''Hasmukh" set for Tuesday

Topics Netflix | Delhi HC | web series

A still from the Netflix web series 'Hasmukh''. Photo: Netflix

The Delhi High Court is scheduled to pronounce on Tuesday its order on an interim application seeking stay on airing of webseries 'Hasmukh' on online media streaming platform Netflix for allegedly maligning image and reputation of lawyers.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva has earlier reserved its order on an advocate's interim application.

The application was filed in a suit seeking injunction on broadcast of the web series, which was opposed by Netflix on the ground that any such order would be contrary to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

The suit seeking injunction on airing of the series or deletion of some of its content, especially from its fourth episode, was moved by lawyer Ashutosh Dubey who said the web series maligned the image and reputation of advocates everywhere.

The court had earlier issued notice to Netflix and the show's producers and director seeking their stand on the suit.

Apart from seeking to stop airing if the show, the plaintiff has also sought directions to the web series producers, directors and writer to "tender unconditional apology online for maligning the image of the lawyers community, which includes judges too as they too had been lawyers at one point of time".

Netflix, in its written submissions placed before the court, has contended that there are several judgments which say that lawyers as a class cannot be defamed.

It has said that if an injunction is granted in this matter then it will open the floodgates to defamation litigation by "so-called class of persons, including chartered accounts, engineers, doctors, IAS officers, police officers, who may not agree with any cinematic or theatrical portrayal of their class".

In the show, the protagonist, in each episode, murder professionals from various facets of life who have committed some wrong and then performs a stand-up act on such people, Netflix has contended.

t has further said that the series' theme makes it clear that the intention was not to defame or malign any particular profession, but the idea was to "spin a dark satirical comedy about evil in various walks of life and its impact on society".

Netflix, represented by advocate Saikrishna Rajagopal, has contended that if the suit is allowed then it would "sound the death knell for parodies and satire" which rely on making people laugh through critical comments on the state of affairs in society.

It has further said that webseries 'Hasmukh' is a work of fiction and the statements made in it by its characters are only meant to be taken as a figment of imagination and humour and not as a matter of truth.

It has also said that neither Netflix nor the webseries intends to defame or malign or bring disrepute to the image of the lawyers' community or the legal profession.

The plaintiff has claimed that in episode 4 of the web series, lawyers have been allegedly referred to as thieves, scoundrels, goons and rapists.

Dubey, who practices in the Supreme Court, has contended that "statements (in the series) are highly disparaging, defamatory and bring disrepute to the law profession and lawyers and advocates in the eyes of the general public".

He also sought "deletion or removal of the statements and contents from the show 'Hasmukh', especially from episode 4 of the series.

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