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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Explained: Delhi High Court’s observations on the ‘Right to be Forgotten’

Earlier in July, Ashutosh Kaushik who won reality TV shows Bigg Boss in 2008 and MTV Roadies 5.0 approached the Delhi High Court with a plea saying that his videos, photographs and articles etc. be removed from the internet citing his “Right to be Forgotten”.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 29, 2021 10:01:03 pm
The Right to be Forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament. (File Photo)

This week, the Delhi High Court upheld the view that the “Right to Privacy” includes the “Right to be Forgotten” and the “Right to be Left Alone”. The court said this in an order passed in response to a suit filed by an unnamed Bengali actor.

Earlier in July, Ashutosh Kaushik who won reality TV shows Bigg Boss in 2008 and MTV Roadies 5.0 approached the Delhi High Court with a plea saying that his videos, photographs and articles etc. be removed from the internet citing his “Right to be Forgotten”.

In the plea, Kaushik maintained that the “Right to be Forgotten” goes in sync with the “Right to Privacy”, which is an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution, which concerns the right to life.

According to LiveLaw, the court also has issued a notice regarding Kaushik’s plea, seeking directions to remove all the posts, videos and articles related to him on the internet.

What is the suit filed by the Bengali actor?

The actor has said in the suit that she was approached by Ram Gopal Verma Studios for filming a web-series and that on the promise made to her of giving her the lead role in the web-series, she was lured into participating in a demonstration video/trailer. This trailer comprised explicit scenes of complete frontal nudity.

This project fell through and the web-series was never produced. In December, 2020, the plaintiff came across the videos which had been uploaded by the producer on his YouTube channel and website. The plaintiff requested the producer to remove the same and the producer removed the said suit videos from his YouTube channel and website. However, without the plaintiff’s consent, some websites uploaded the videos and some also superimposed objectionable and obscene commentaries on them, the order says.

“As a consequence of such action, the plaintiff was constantly subjected to anonymous callers and also subjected to insults. Thus, the videos have resulted in loss of reputation as also great prejudice to the plaintiff’s professional endeavours,” the order notes.

Further, the actor told the court that the videos were being portrayed in a manner that infringe her privacy.

What the court observed

“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,” said Justice Asha Menon in an interim order passed on Monday.

Justice Menon also said that explicit videos that are being circulated have a clear and immediate impact on the reputation of the person seen in the videos in a state of nudity and that she has not permitted even the producer of the videos to publish them. The bench noted that a coordinate bench of the High Court has already held that “right to privacy” includes the right to be forgotten and the right to be left alone as “inherent aspects”.

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“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,” the court said in its order.

Right to be Forgotten in India

The Right to be Forgotten falls under the purview of an individual’s right to privacy, which is governed by the Personal Data Protection Bill that is yet to be passed by Parliament.

In 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict. The court said at the time that “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.

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