‘Sacred Games’ Row: Netflix Refuses to Give in to Censorship
The Delhi High Court was informed on 7 August that Netflix has not changed an alleged objectionable word in its series Sacred Games that was used to describe former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar was told by the counsel for the streaming service that a partly-wrong statement was made by him earlier and that neither have they changed the word in the English subtitles nor do they want to change it.
He said the series is available on the platform in several languages and versions and in one version, the subtitle uses the alleged objectionable word while the other has a different word as these were translated by different people.
On 19 July, Netflix's counsel, on instructions, had informed the bench that they, on their own, had changed a word in the English subtitles in the fourth episode of the series, which was allegedly derogatory.
The court was hearing a plea filed by petitioner Nikhil Bhalla, through advocate Shashank Garg. It contended that the show, starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, "incorrectly depicts historical events of the country like Bofors case, Shah Bano case, Babri Masjid case and communal riots".
The bench listed the matter for further hearing on 20 September. "Nobody is pressing or forcing you. You take your own decision, whether you want to change the word or not. We are not going to compel you," the bench orally said during the hearing.
It had earlier observed that criticism and expression of dissatisfaction were permissible and it did not want to curtail anyone's right.
Earlier, the court was also of a prima facie view that it could be a private injury and not a public injury and asked the petitioner to address it on point of maintainability of the plea as a public interest litigation (PIL).
The plea alleged that certain scenes and dialogues in the show defamed the late Congress leader.
The plea sought directions to Netflix Entertainment, the show's producer - Phantom Films Production Ltd - and the Centre to ensure "in toto" removal of the allegedly offensive scenes and derogatory remarks made directly or indirectly against the former prime minister or his family.
The first season of the show, comprising eight episodes, was released on 6 July and was available in 190 countries in four languages, the petition said.
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