The Bombay High Court on Friday ordered the removal of some online videos that appear to be defamatory against actor Shilpa Shetty, Live Law reported.
This came a day after Shetty filed a defamation suit against 29 entities, saying that “incorrect, false and malicious” information about her was being published in connection to the arrest of her husband Raj Kundra in a case related to pornographic video clips.
Media organisations such as NDTV, India TV, The New Indian Express and The Free Press Journal along with social media websites Facebook and Instagram are among the 29 defendants in the case. Shetty sought an amount of Rs 25 crore as compensation for damage to her reputation.
During Friday’s hearing, Justice Gautam S Patel directed Capital TV, a Lucknow-based channel, to take down a video.
“Unfortunately Defendant 17 [Capital TV] has in the latter part actually gone ahead to make a statement about Ms Shetty’s reaction which clearly portrays her as being duplicitous at a personal level,” the judge said. “This is, in my view, transgressing any permissible limit as Ms Shetty seems to have been found guilty by whom, no one knows, and of what, no one knows.”
The judge also said Heena Kumawat, who claimed to be a friend of Shetty, and YouTube channel Shudh Manoranjan should not upload their videos again. They were removed before the hearing.
The High Court, however, clarified that the order was not a gag on the media. It added that not all statements made by all the defendants are defamatory. Reporting something that the crime branch or police sources said is never defamatory, the judge added.
“The line between freedom of press and right to privacy will have to be balanced,” Justice Patel said. “It is possible that freedom of speech may have to be narrowly tailored. But it is not possible to ignore the constitutional pinning of privacy nor to say that if a person is a public figure, that person is deemed to have sacrificed his right to privacy.”
The court also sought to know how reporting about Shetty crying was defamatory news, according to Bar and Bench. “Are you saying if you cannot say anything nice about Shilpa Shetty, do not say anything at all,” Justice Patel further asked the actor’s counsel. “What you are asking me to do can have a very chilling effect of the freedom of the press.”
Porn clips case
In her plea, Shetty submitted that the defendants were damaging her reputation with the aim of “sensationalising news and increasing their readership and viewership”.
“Once besmirched by an unfounded allegation in print media and its quadrupled circulation on the electronic media, a reputation can be damaged for forever, especially if there is no opportunity to vindicate one’s reputation,” Shetty added.
Kundra was arrested on July 19 for allegedly being the “key conspirator” in the case related to producing pornographic films and sharing them through mobile apps. He allegedly owned a video streaming app that created pornographic content. The police also alleged that women were coerced into making pornographic clips with promises of acting roles.
On July 23, a metropolitan magistrate had remanded Kundra to police custody till July 27. After the period of police custody ended on Tuesday, he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days. On Wednesday, a Mumbai court refused to grant bail to Kundra and his aide Ryan Thorpe.