Kochi: The Kerala High Court has ruled that the fact that a story is inspired by the life of a convicted criminal does not necessarily mean that it accurately portrays their entire life story, nor does its publication infringe upon their right to privacy.
The ruling by a bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Murali Purushothaman came while dismissing a PIL seeking to stop the release of Malayalam film 'Kurup' starring Dulquer Salmaan on the ground that it would affect the right to privacy of Sukumara Kurup, an accused in a murder case and absconding since 1984.
The PIL was moved by a lawyer, three days before the release of the film in 2021, claiming that the release of the movie would affect the right to privacy of Kurup, a proclaimed offender.
The petitioner had also sought directions to the Centre and the state government to protect privacy rights of proclaimed offenders like Kurup.
Declining to grant either relief, the bench said, "Public records and judgments in public domain can be accessed by any person.
"This court is in agreement with the submission of the 5th respondent (one of the film producers) that only because the story gets inspiration from the life story of a proclaimed offender does not mean that the story is completely the life story of that person and the publication of that story would affect the privacy right of that particular person."
The court said that in this particular case, the details against Kurup were part of public records and could be accessed by anyone.
It also said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had certified the film for screening and once the certification has been issued, there was a prima facie assumption that the authorities have taken into account all the aspects regarding the movie and found it fit for public display.
The court further said the movie has already been released on November 12, 2021, and therefore, the relief sought in the plea has become "infructuous".
"Movie has been screened. Therefore, the first prayer sought by the petitioner has become infructuous. Giving due consideration to the rival contentions and the material on record, this court is of the view that the petitioner, who is a third party, has not made out a case for granting the second prayer also. In fine, writ petition is dismissed," the bench said.
One of the film's producers, M Star Entertainments, while opposing the plea had contended that just because the film was inspired by the life of Kurup does not mean it was his life story and that its screening would affect his privacy rights. The bench agreed with this contention.
The production company, represented by senior advocate Jaju Babu, had also argued that the crime committed by Kurup was already part of the public records.
Wayfarer Films Pvt. Ltd, the joint producer of the film, had contended that since the film had already been released, the petition had become infructuous. It had also argued that the movie had obtained a certification from the censor board and thus, it was fit for exhibition. The court agreed with these contentions too and dismissed the plea.
(With PTI inputs)