Bombay High Court Refuses To Stay Release of "Railway Man: Untold Story of Bhopal 1984" Series on OTT

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The high court the appeal filed by two former employees convicted in the 2010 Bhopal Gas Tragedy case

The Bombay High Court has recently refused to stay the release of the series "Railway Man: Untold Story of Bhopal 1984" on OTT. 

A single-judge bench of the high court, presided over by Justice Arif Doctor, heard the appeal filed by two former employees convicted in the 2010 Bhopal Gas Tragedy case.

The two employees sought a stay on the release, contending that the series portrayed inaccurate facts about the gas leak.

The Bhopal Gas Leak tragedy occurred on December 3, 1984, in Bhopal, India, when methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide plant. It led to the death of thousands and left many with long-term health issues. 

In its order, the High Court stated that it is well-established that those seeking to restrain the release of a film or similar work must approach the court promptly and not at the eleventh hour.

Further the bench said that the applicant was seeking stay on the release of the web series not on the basis of any action in copyright etc. but solely on the ground that airing such web series could potentially cause grave prejudice to the employees in pending legal proceedings.

The bench further also refused the appellants request to hold a pre-screening of the series to check if there was anything prejudicial to their interest. 

In its order, the high court also said that the production house would add a disclaimer before every episode on the OTT.
"..the entire premise for seeking a stay of the release of the said web series is the same may adversely affect the Appellants’ legal proceedings. This is prima facie untenable for three reasons, (a) that the Appellant already stand convicted in connection with the Bhopal Gas Tragedy (b) the Trial having come to an end in the year 2010, the contents of the trial and judgement were available in the public domain and (c) the Learned Counsel for the Respondent has produced the disclaimer which will precede the airing of each episode which specifically caveats “This series is a work of fiction, inspired by real events", the bench said.

The bench emphasized that the web series, characterized as inspired by true events, is neither a documentary nor a narration of factual events. It further noted that the events mentioned are already in the public domain.

Case Title: Satya Prakash Chaudhary vs Yash Raj Films & Ors.