Bombay High Court Rejects Stay On OTT Release Of The Railway Men – The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984

Bombay High Court Rejects Stay On OTT Release Of The Railway Men – The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984

The court noted that the details of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy were already available in public domain.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, November 17, 2023, 09:21 PM IST
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Poster of The Railway Men - The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984 |

The Bombay High Court has refused to stay the OTT release of web series “The Railway Men – The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984”, which is inspired by events around the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, observing that there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the series stating it was a “work of fiction” and only “inspired” by the tragedy. 

The court also noted that the details of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy were already available in public domain. The series is scheduled to be released on Saturday. A vacation bench of Justice Arif Doctor on November 15 dismissed the petitions filed by two erstwhile employees of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in 1984 when the Bhopal Gas tragedy occurred. One of the petitioners was in-charge of the MIC Plant as production manager and the other was in charge of the Pesticides factory of the UCIL.

Former employees sought stay on release

The former employees  – Satya Prakash Choudhry and J Mukund – sought  stay on the release claiming that the series’ depiction of the events leading to the tragedy and its cause may cause prejudice to them in their legal proceedings. They sought a pre-screening of the web series citing certain factual errors in the trailer and a stay on the release.

The petitioners were convicted by the trial court in the case and their appeal against this conviction is pending. 

Justice Doctor refused to stay the release of the series noting that the petitioners have failed to make out a “very strong and compelling prima facie case that the web series contains defamatory, slanderous or libelous material”. 

“It cannot be disputed that the Bhopal gas tragedy was a most terrible and unfortunate event which made headlines and continued to remain in the news not only nationally but internationally for several years,” the judge observed.

Judge's observations

The judge also noted that the gas leak and the events that surrounded it have been discussed and examined over the years and form the basis of several documentaries, movies, books and so on which are available in the public domain. Also, the web series was neither a documentary nor narration of true facts but is simply stated to be inspired by true events, which are all in the public domain, the court underlined. 

In a detailed order, the HC noted that the petitioners are seeking a stay on the release of the series solely on the ground that it could “potentially” cause grave injustice to them. However, the petitioners were held guilty way back in 2010 and the contents of the trial and judgment are available in public domain. 

Justice Doctor also noted that the  makers of the series have included a disclaimer before each episode stating that it was a work of fiction inspired by real events.

The petitioners claimed that they had no objection to the depiction of the role of those involved in the rescue work but that they had an issue with the portrayal of the cause/ events leading up to the gas leak. They contended that it could cause grave prejudice to the ongoing judicial proceedings against them. 

Yash Raj Films Private Limited, the makers of the series, said the pleas were baseless and misconceived and that the petitioners are not named, identified or blamed for the gas leak in the series. 

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