The Bombay High Court has refused to gag media on the defamation suit filed by Shilpa Shetty. The actress had filed a defamation suit against media houses for running incorrect and malicious reports on Raj Kundra's arrest. Shetty's husband and celebrity businessman Raj Kundra has been kept in police custody over charges of alleged involvement in porn racket.
In her suit, Shilpa has alleged that the media houses are defaming her and tarnishing her image in order to increase page views and sensationalize the case. Along with this, Shetty has demanded compensation of Rs 25 crore and an unconditional apology, says a TOI report.
"The Defamatory Articles and Defamatory Videos have lowered the Applicant's reputation in the eyes of the general public including her fans, followers, brand endorsement companies, business associates and peers who have now started believing in the reports being published by the Defendants," the plea had said.
Bombay High Court's observations
Now, the Bombay High Court has refused to grant an interim injunction against various news portals and publications. The court, however, added that public figure Shilpa Shetty should have her right to privacy just like everyone else. While some organisations/media personnel and news outlets were not present in the court. Few organisations had already taken down the questionable content were asked not to upload it again.
Let's take a look at the key points
The Court directed few media outlets to remove their unverified content but added, "No part of this shall be construed as a gag on the media."
"The considerations in a defamation case, and the wide protection recognised for the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press will have to be balanced against the right of privacy. It is possible that the exceptions to free speech will have to be exceedingly narrowly tailored. But it is not possible to fail to recognise the constitutional under pinnings of the right to privacy nor to say that because a person is a public figure of some sort therefore that person must be deemed to have sacrificed his right to privacy," Justice Gautam S. Patel observed as per a Live Law report.
"I believe that some of the issues this Suit raises will require a closer scrutiny because it is not possible to say at this stage that all the statements by all the defendants are of the same defamatory stature," the report further states:
"In any case, none of this should involve or be allowed to involve Miss Shetty as a parent. That right is protected by the law on privacy."
"Reporting of something that the Crime Branch said or a police source said & is never defamatory. That's never defamation."
"Are you saying if you cannot say anything nice about Shilpa Shetty, do not say anything at all..?"
"What you are asking me to do can have a very chilling effect of the freedom of the press."
"I'm not going to take one defendant's view and apply it to everyone," Justice Patel observed.