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'Entitled To Right To Be Forgotten & Protection From Invasion Of Privacy': Delhi High Court Grants Interim Relief To Bengali Actress

Nupur Thapliyal
26 Aug 2021 8:15 AM GMT
Entitled To Right To Be Forgotten & Protection From Invasion Of Privacy: Delhi High Court Grants Interim Relief To Bengali Actress
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Citing the right to be forgotten and entitlement to protection of privacy from invasion by strangers, the Delhi High Court has granted interim relief to a Bengali actress, seeking restraint on publication and streaming of her naked videos on various online platforms including YouTube.Justice Asha Menon, as an interim measure, directed the defendants to remove or pull down the...

Citing the right to be forgotten and entitlement to protection of privacy from invasion by strangers, the Delhi High Court has granted interim relief to a Bengali actress, seeking restraint on publication and streaming of her naked videos on various online platforms including YouTube.

Justice Asha Menon, as an interim measure, directed the defendants to remove or pull down the impugned videos.

"...this Court is also of the opinion that the right to privacy of the plaintiff is to be protected, especially when it is her person that is being exhibited, and against her will," the Bench observed at the outset.

Further, placing reliance on a decision delivered by another bench of the Delhi High Court which observed that the "right to privacy" includes the right to be forgotten and the right to be left alone as "inherent aspects", the Court observed thus:

"In the circumstances and in view of the fact that the plaintiff is entitled "to be left alone" and "to be forgotten", she is entitled to protection from invasion of her privacy by strangers and anonymous callers on account of such publication/streaming/transmission of the suit videos by the defendants."

It was the case of the plaintiff actress that after being approached by Ram Gopal Verma Studios for filming a web-series, she was lured into participating in a video trailer comprising of complete frontal nudity, on the promise of giving her the lead role. However, the project fell through and the web-series was never produced.

Thereafter, the producer uploaded the impugned videos on his YouTube channel, which she discovered in December last year. Consequently, she requested the producer to remove the videos and her request was honored. However, she claimed that many websites had uploaded her videos, without her consent.

Relying on IT Rules, 2021, it was submitted that the  defendants were obligated to remove the videos.

"In view of the submissions made, it is clear that the matter requires consideration in greater depth. Suffice it to note, at this juncture, that the suit videos contain explicit material, as included under Rule 3(2)(b) of the IT Rules," the Court concurred.

The Defendants had claimed that the impugned videos were shot voluntarily and hence, they are not under any obligation to prevent its further publication. They also relied on a recent decision of the Madras High Court, refusing to redact the name of a person from court records, who was acquitted of all criminal charges levelled against him, while stating that there is now law in India that contemplates such a request.

To this, the Bench responded,

"It is true that the High Courts of Madras and Orissa have held that there is no statutory right to be forgotten. However, at this stage, this Court is not coming to any final conclusions. But, following the view taken by a co-ordinate Bench of this court in Zulfiqar Ahman Khan (supra) that the "right to privacy" includes the right to be forgotten and the right to be left alone as "inherent aspects", this Court is also of the opinion that the right to privacy of the plaintiff is to be protected."
It added,
"The plaintiff in this case has not permitted even the producer of the videos to publish them on his YouTube channel and website and the producer has respected her decision and protected her sentiments by taking down the videos. The producer could have at least claimed that she had consented to filming her in the nude. But, he has acted on her request. The defendants have no such consent in their favour."
The Bench thus ordered:
"Thus, till the next date of hearing, the defendants are directed to remove/pull down the suit videos."

Earlier, the Court while deciding the question of Right to Privacy of a person and Right to Information of public and maintenance of transparency in judicial records, granted interim protection to an American Citizen of Indian origin by directing Indian Kanoon to block the judgement of his acquittal under NDPS Act from being accessed by using search engines such as Google/Yahoo etc.

The Court also issued notice on a plea filed by Ashutosh Kaushik, winner of Roadies 5.0 and Bigg Boss (2008), seeking directions to remove all the posts, videos, articles, etc. from the internet, allegedly sensationalizing his past life at the strength of a 2009 drunken driving case and altercation at a Mumbai cafe in 2013.

In a related development, the Madras High Court  

Case Title: X v. HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=IQ6K5Z3ZYS0 & Ors.

Click Here To Read Order

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