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Identity of a child “in conflict with law”cannot be disclosed: Delhi HC restrains Netflix on streaming the Documentary “A Big Little Murder”

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New Delhi, Aug 13 (ILNS) The Delhi High Court today restrained Channel News Asia (CNA) and Netflix on streaming the Documentary titled “A Big Little Murder” and directed that the broadcasting can be done, only if all scenes wherein references to the use of the name, and visuals of the Plaintiff’s school building are removed.

Justice Jayant Nath directed,” the defendants are restrained from streaming, broadcasting, telecasting etc. the documentary titled “A big Little Murder” or any of its abridged versions. The Court added that the defendants may stream the said documentary after deleting all references to the plaintiff school in question and deleting the portion where the building of the school is depicted.

The Court issued notice to the defendants and asked them to reply by October 22, 2021. A copy of this order be given dasti under the signatures of the Court Master, Justice Jayant Nath Directed.

The application was filed by St.Xavier’s Education Trust(Plaintiff) which sought an ex parte injunction to restrain Netflex and others, their servants, agents etc. from marketing, broadcasting, streaming, telecasting and making available in any form or in any medium for sale, publishing, distributing etc. the documentary titled “A Big Little Murder” and / or its trailers or abridged versions and to take down the same from the website and social media platforms

The case of the plaintiff is that it is a prestigious school located in Gurugram, Haryana. The plaintiff have four decade of experience in providing quality education.It is stated that on August 05, 2021 the plaintiff came across information on the internet pertaining to the streaming / screening / showcasing of a documentary titled “A Big Little Murder”. The said documentary has been produced by Ms Mayurica Biswas, Creative Director M/S Storyteller Films (defendant No.1) and is available for viewers on the website Channel News Asia (defendant No.2). It is also available on the Netflex Entertainment Services LLP (defendant No.3) since August, 2021.

The documentary pertains to an unfortunate tragic death of a seven year old student in the school washroom on September 08, 2017. It is stated that currently the matter is sub judice pending before the Additional Sessions Judge, Gurugram.

The grievance of the plaintiff is that the name of its school has been used elaborately and frequently in the documentary of the defendants without having obtained permission from them. It is stated that this is in contravention and in violation of the order dated January 08, 2018 of the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Gurugram. Further, the case of the plaintiff is that the documentary contains visuals of the school building without having obtained permission from them. The said act is also in violation of the order of the ASJ, Gurugram. Reliance is also placed on an order of the co-ordinate bench of this court in another case, “St.Xavier’s Education Trust Vs. Leena Dhankar & Ors.” passed on January 22, 2021.This case was related to release of the book pertaining to the same issue.

Justice Jayant Nath observed, ” I may look at the said order of the co-ordinate bench passed on January 22, 2021 passed on January 22, 2021, The relevant portion reads as follows: “While dealing with the case of a child in conflict with law, the Supreme Court held that the name, address, school or other particulars which may lead to the identification of the child in conflict with law cannot be disclosed in the media. No picture of such child can be published.

Keeping in line with the law, it is apparent that the ASJ, Gurugram passed the following order on January 08, 2018 in Criminal Appeal No.15 of 19.12.2017/22.12.2017 (CNR number-HRGR01-015916-2017) titled as ‘Bholu’ (an imaginary name as actual name/parentage/address withheld) v. CBI:

“ Section 74 of the Act imposes a prohibition on disclosure of identity of children and makes the person contravening this provision liable for punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or both. It postulates that no report in any newspaper, magazine, news sheet or audio-visual media or other forms of communication regarding any inquiry or investigation or judicial procedure, which may lead to the identification of a “child in conflict with law” or “a child in need of care and protection‟ or a child victim or witness of a crime, involved in such matter, under any other law for the time being in force, nor shall the picture of any such child be published. Therefore, to sensitize all the stakeholders regarding provisions of Section 74 of the Act and with the objective of preventing social victimization of the victim, witnesses and the Appellant/‟Child in conflict with Law‟, this court has chosen to describe them with some imaginary names in this judgment. Parties to the proceedings as well as the public at large including the media persons are hereby directed to use imaginary names given in this judgment wherever they have to refer the persons or facts of this case. Staff of the court is also directed to take care that henceforth present case has to be mentioned in the cause-list with the imaginary names given in this judgment, the court held.

”While passing the abovesaid order, the ASJ referred to the child victim with an imaginary name ‘Prince’, the CCIL as ‘Bholu’ and the ‘School’ as ‘Vidyalya’. In fact, the charge sheet filed by the CBI also refers to above mentioned imaginary names.

The court said, “Consequently, till further orders, the defendants No. 1 to 4, their associates, sister concerns, agents, representatives, correspondents, officers, employees and/or any other person entity are restrained from publishing, packaging, releasing, offering for sale, selling and displaying on their website the ‘Book’ or any portion thereof. Further, the defendants No. 5 & 6 are also restrained from accepting any purchase orders and/or executing any pending orders for sale of the ‘Book’.”

The Court said, “In my opinion, the act is contrary to the orders passed by the ASJ, Gurugram and the co-ordinate bench of this court. The defendants are restrained from streaming, broadcasting, telecasting etc. the documentary titled “A big Little Murder” or any of its abridged versions.

The said documentary was released on Netflix on August 06, 2021. It was also stated in the said order that, the real name of the victim, accused and school be not used and imaginary names ought to be given to the victim, accused and the school. The name of the School as per the order dated January 08 is to be mentioned as ‘Vidyalya’. It was contended by the Plaintiff that in another case pertaining to the release of a book on the same trial, the coordinate bench of the High Court had on January 22, 2021 had stayed the release of the book as it contained references and used the name of the Plaintiff’s school./ILNS/SS/SNG

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