Madras High Court has dismissed a plea filed by a woman advocate for a direction to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi "to take back his wife and provide her a dignified life". She had filed the PIL relying on media reports of Modi's declaration of his marital status, identifying his wife, while submitting his nomination papers last month for the Lok Sabha elections.
Dismissing the public interest litigation on Wednesday, a vacation bench of Justices S Manikumar and T S Sivagnanam said "Averments made in the supporting affidavit are baseless and without any proof. The writ petition is nothing but a publicity oriented writ petition. This Court is not inclined to entertain it." Noting that the right to privacy is an individual's right to be left alone and that the media should not cross its 'Lakshman Rekha' to invade individual's privacy, the judges said: "What is an information to others, according to a journalist, could be a personal and sensitive information to an individual.
The boundary between freedom of press and privacy of individual is the 'Lakshman Rekha' and if the media crosses the line of boundary, the invasion starts." "Right of privacy vis-a-vis right of information to be furnished to the general public should be with reference to the kind of information which the law permits. Constitution does not guarantee absolute freedom or absolute protection to the media." As a word of caution, the judges said media should concentrate on other socially relevant issues than writing about individuals.
They said the media attention should be towards exposing corruption, nepotism, law breaking, abuse or arbitrary exercise of power, law and order, economy, health, science and technology etc., which are matters of public interest. "The 'Lakshman Rekha' should be that publication of comments/information should not invade the privacy of an individual, unless, outweighed by bona fide and genuine public interest," the judges said.