In a recent development, the Bombay High Court has declined to intervene in the release of the upcoming Hindi web series titled “The Railway Men – The Untold Story of Bhopal 1984,” scheduled for November 18, 2023. Justice Arif Doctor, presiding over a vacation bench, upheld the Mumbai city civil court’s decision to deny a stay on the series.
The legal dispute arose from two appeals filed by former employees of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), convicted in connection with the criminal proceedings stemming from the tragic Bhopal gas leak incident of 1984. The convicts sought a stay on the series, arguing that its release could prejudice them in potential legal challenges to their convictions.
However, the High Court remained unconvinced by this argument, emphasizing that the producers, Yash Raj Films, had announced the web series release as early as November 25, 2022. The court also took note of the series containing a disclaimer labeling it a “work of fiction” inspired by real events.
In its order dated November 15, the court stated, “The appellants have, in my view at this stage, not satisfied the very high threshold test required to stay the release of the said web series.” The court highlighted that the appellants had already been convicted in connection with the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and the trial’s details were publicly available since its conclusion in 2010.
The appellants additionally sought a pre-screening of the series to assess any potential prejudice to their interests. However, the court dismissed this request, asserting that the right to pre-screening of a fictional work belonged exclusively to the respondent (YRF Pvt Ltd). The court suggested that if the appellants felt aggrieved or defamed after the series aired, they could pursue legal remedies such as seeking damages.
Legal representation for the appellants included advocates Anirban Roy, Bhavesh Parmar, Ratnarani Roy, Rahul Gaikwad, Aman Jhawar, and Reshma Nari, briefed by Gravitas Legal. Advocates Abhishekh Malhotra, Sapna Chaurasia, and Darshit Jain, briefed by TMT Law Practice, represented YRF Pvt Ltd in the case.