RAJAGOPAL v. STATE OF TAMIL NADU (Auto Shankar Case)
Citation: 1995 AIR 264, 1994 SCC (6) 632
Bench Composition: B Jeevan Reddy
No. of judges: 1
- Constitution of India
- A prisoner convicted of murder wrote an autobiography
- The autobiography described his relationship with a number of senior prison officers, several of whom were his partners in crime.
- He gave the autobiography to his wife, with the knowledge of the authorities, who then handed it over to the petitioners’ magazine to publish it.
- Inspector General of Prisons wrote to the petitioners claiming the autobiography was false, that publication was against prison rules and threatened legal action if they proceeded with publishing.
- Whether one can prevent another person from writing his autobiography or biography? Does such unauthorized writing infringe one’s right to privacy?
- Whether the prison officials can prevent the publication of the life story of a prisoner on the ground that the prisoner being incarcerated and thus not being in a position to adopt legal remedies to protect his rights, they are entitled to act on his behalf?
Issues Answered and the Judgement:
- The Right to Privacy is an independent and distinctive concept originating in the field of Tort law, under which a new cause of action for damages resulting from unlawful invasion of privacy was recognized. This right is infringer in the present case.
- The judges held that the petitioners have a right to publish, what they allege to be the life story/autobiography of Auto Shankar insofar as it appears from the public records, even without his consent or authorization.
- There is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.
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