Bombay HC’s Dismissal Of CBI’s Plea; Giving Way To Release Of Netflix’s Indrani Documentary [Read Order]




While rejecting CBI’s plea for an injunction against the release of Netflix’s docuseries- “The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth”, the Bombay High Court, on February 29, 2024 stated that the release of the said docuseries was not prejudicial to the murder case of Sheena Bora.

Timeline and Facts

In August 2015, police arrested a man named Shyamvar Rai for the possession of illegal weapons. During the interrogation, Rai disclosed his involvement in another case- the murder of Sheena Bora. Sheena Bora, who was known to be the ‘sister’ of the former media executive, Indrani Mukerjea, disappeared in April 2012. It was later established that Sheena Bora was actually the daughter of Indrani Mukerjea. Sheena was allegedly strangled and killed in a car by Indrani herself, along with her ex-husband, Sanjeev Khanna and her driver, Rai. Her body was burnt and buried in a forest in the Raigad district.

The accused were arrested on 25th August 2015 and charged under Section 302 (murder), 201(disposing evidence or giving false statement), 363 (kidnapping) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. Nearly 7 years later, Indrani Mukerjea was released on bail. The other accused have also been released on bail.

Netflix decided to make a docuseries on the murder case, highlighting Indrani’s version of the story, which was supposed to air on 23rd February 2024. Following the announcement, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a petition before a Special Court in Mumbai seeking an injunction against the release of Netflix’s new docuseries- “The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth”. The petitioner was compelled to approach the Bombay High Court upon refusal of the Special Court to take the requested action.

Issue Raised- The main question that arose before the court was whether the docuseries contained anything which would cause prejudice to the ongoing investigation of the murder case of Sheena Bora.

Decision of the Special Court

Public prosecutor, CJ Nandode filed an application on behalf of the CBI, requesting the Court to direct the accused to cease featuring in the docuseries along with other persons connected to the case and to halt the airing of the series.

Special Judge SP Naik-Nimbalkar advised the CBI to approach the appropriate forum to hear the matter in hand since the Special Court did not have the inherent power to stop the broadcasting of the docuseries.

Arguments Before the Bombay High Court

The CBI filed a criminal writ petition before the Bombay High Court, seeking stay on the broadcasting of the series on the grounds that the trial around which the entire docuseries revolves, is still pending investigation.

Mr. Peter Mukerjea, Indrani Mukerjea’s former husband and a co-accused in the case, claimed that he was being portrayed in a negative manner in the series, but the court dismissed his plea and asked him to file a separate suit if he wished to.

Advocate Shreeram Sirsat, representing the CBI, also argued that the makers of the series should have consulted with the CBI before the release, as it could be prejudicial to the ongoing investigation. He argued that the docuseries gave a one sided impression. He then added that the stay pled for was only until the conclusion of the trial in the CBI Court and that it would be temporary in nature.

Senior Advocate Ravi Kadam, appearing for the respondent, countered that all the information contained in the docuseries is already in public domain. He contended that the series was based on a memoir written by Indrani Mukerjea herself. He also contended that the CBI cannot approach the court at the last minute seeking to postpone the release of the series. When the High Court asked if any witnesses featured in the series were examined by the Special Court, the counsel for Netflix replied that 5 witnesses out of the list of witnesses featured in the docuseries. Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, who appeared for the series directors, Shaana Levy and Uraaz Bahl, opposed the plea by citing a judgement of Justice Mohite-Dere form 2018 wherein she had ruled against a trial court’s media gag order.

Court’s Observation and Order

A Division Bench consisting of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Manusha A. Deshpande, on 22nd February 2024, directed Netflix to give an opportunity to the CBI to view the series before its release. The Bench, after examining the series, remarked that not a single one of the people that were interviewed in the docuseries said anything that would go against the prosecution. The court noted that media debates on ongoing cases are extremely common and that nothing can be done to censor the same. The court further said that people watch such movies and move on and nobody carries it with them, but the judiciary does not get affected by this. Public perception is the least of the Court’s concern as courts act on the evidence produced before it rather than focusing on public perception. Justice Mohite-Dere added that whatever has been mentioned by Indrani Mukerjea in the series is already on the public domain, therefore the series does not, in any way, go against the prosecution. While rejecting the petitioner’s plea, the Court said that it did not find anything ‘prejudicial’ in the series that could cause any concerns in the ongoing investigation.

After hearing both the parties to the case, the Court dismissed the petition for stay.


In conclusion, the Bombay High Court’s ruling in CBI vs Netflix Entertainment Services LLP answers the question of public perception influencing an ongoing trial. With this decision, the Court has offered crucial clarity on the interplay between public perception and an ongoing trial. The Court’s unequivocal stance on public sentiments playing a role in judicial determination is pretty salient. By meticulously examining the series in addition to letting the petitioner view it before the release of the series, the court has proven its dedication to fairness. This ruling elucidates the judiciary’s impartiality and guarantees its commitment to uphold legal principles.

Author: Saurojit Barua

Click Here To Read The Order


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