Delhi HC dismisses Sasikala Pushpa's plea
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the plea of expelled AIADMK leader and then Rajya Sabha Member Sasikala Pushpa seeking to restrain Facebook India, Google India, YouTube, and Twitter India from publishing or showing any "derogatory" photographs of her, stating that the "electorate certainly has a right to know the behind closed doors meets of politicians".
She has claimed that some people were using a morphed photo to tarnish her image.
In her plea, she has also said that she had continuously received threats and baseless and false allegations were being made against her and one of such threats was of distribution of photographs and video on social media defaming and embarrassing her.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said that the court is required to balance the right claimed by Sasikala of privacy qua whom she meets at her residence, has to be balanced with the right of the public to know the identity of the person whom she meets and hobnobs with, behind closed doors.
"Considering the fact that the plaintiff is a politician, participating in the electoral process and is a representative of the people, the people and/or the electorate certainly have a right to know that the plaintiff behind closed doors meets and hobnobs a man to whom she is not married and particularly a man who belongs to a political party which is a rival of political party to which the plaintiff belongs.
The plaintiff, as a representative of people and whether performing executive function or functions as a Legislator, would be issuing orders/directions and/or participate in law-making, regulating the conduct of human beings and in the said context the electorate has a right to know of the behind curtains meetings of the plaintiff with a man other than her husband and particularly a man belonging to a political party which the plaintiff before the public criticises or opposes in the elections," the court said.
"In the facts of the present case the public interest in knowing the meeting of the Sasikala at her residence with a man belonging to a rival political party far outweighs the private interest of the plaintiff Sasikala of keeping the same hidden from public eyes. The plaintiff has not pleaded the public interest in her said meetings and in keeping the same hidden," the court noted.
Sasikala has filed a petition on September 29, 2016, against Facebook, Google and YouTube for seeking permanent injunction restraining from publishing, broadcasting, distributing or disseminating in any form whatsoever any defamatory material --including the purported photographs, video and audio messages.
The court also slapped a fine against her directing her to pay Rs 2 lakh each to Facebook Inc, Google, and YouTube.
"Thus, the suit as framed and as argued is not found to contain any material plea on trial whereof the plaintiff may be found to be entitled to the reliefs claimed. The plaintiff, as aforesaid, is not found entitled to any order against Facebook Inc., Google LLC and YouTube LLC to remove the photographs and/or to block access to them. Once it is so, the suit must fail and is dismissed with costs payable equally to Facebook Inc. on the one hand and Google LLC and YouTube LLC together on the other hand, of Rs 2 lakh each," the court said.