Monday , September 20 2021

Delhi High Court grants protection to actress from invasion of privacy

New Delhi : Right to privacy includes right to be forgotten and to be left alone, the Delhi High Court has said while directing various online platforms including YouTube to remove certain objectionable videos and audio clips of a Bengali actress.

Delhi High Court

The high court, in an interim order, said the actress is entitled to protection from invasion of her privacy by strangers and anonymous callers on account of such publication/streaming/transmission of the videos by the defendant platforms and other persons as they are having a clear and immediate impact on her reputation.


The Bengali actress has filed a suit seeking restraint on publication and streaming of her objectionable videos on various URLs, websites, mobile applications and online platforms including YouTube, portraying her in a manner that infringes her privacy.


“In the circumstances and in view of the fact that the plaintiff (actress) 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,” Justice Asha Menon said.


The woman’s counsel claimed that she is a well-known actor, particularly in Bengali films, and had been approached by a production house for filming a web-series.


The counsel contended that on the promise made to the woman of giving her the lead role in the web-series, the plaintiff was lured into participating in a demonstration video/trailer, comprising of explicit scenes.


However, the project fell through and the web-series was never produced, the court was informed.


The suit said that in December, 2020, the woman came across the videos which had been uploaded by the producer on his YouTube channel and website and on her request, the producer removed the clips.


However, without the woman’s consent, various websites have uploaded the videos and some of them also superimposed objectionable and obscene commentaries on them, it said.


As a consequence of such an action, she was constantly subjected to anonymous callers and insults and the videos have resulted in loss of reputation as also great prejudice to her professional endeavours, the suit said.


The high court said in this case, it is explicit videos that are being circulated, having a clear and immediate impact on the reputation of the person seen in the videos.


The court took into consideration that the High Courts of Madras and Orissa have held that there is no statutory right to be forgotten. However, it said that at this stage, it was not coming to any final conclusions.


Justice Menon relied on a view taken by a coordinate bench of the high court in another case that the “right to privacy” includes the right to be forgotten and the right to be left alone as “inherent aspects”, and said this court was 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 submission made by one of the defendants that the videos had been shot with the consent of the woman and therefore, she would not be entitled to any relief, did not find favour with the court.


The court said even if it was true that the woman may have participated in the filming of the scenes in question voluntarily and for consideration, she has clearly stated that she has not licensed any of the URLs/websites and the search engines to publish and transmit the same on YouTube.


“She has also clearly stated in the plaint that the producer had actually uploaded the suit videos on his YouTube channel and the website, but as soon as she objected to it, he had taken them down. Now, if others were circulating the same for obvious monetary and other prurient benefits, the plaintiff cannot be denied any relief during the pendency of the suit,” the court said.


The court directed the online platforms and others to remove or pull down till September 22, the videos, footage, audio clips and to stop uploading/ publishing/ streaming/ communicating to the public such videos on their web portals/ electronic/ digital platforms/mobile applications/online platforms, including YouTube channels as well as any mirror websites.


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