Defamation is injury to the reputation of a person. If a person injures the reputation of anther he does it at his own risk, as in the case of an interference with the property. A man’s reputation is his property, and if possible, more valuable than other property as mentioned by Dr. R.K Bangia.

There are two kinds of suits in defamation civil suit and criminal suit. Civil suits are covered in law of torts which imposes punishment in the form or damages whereas the criminal suits are covered under section 499 of the Indian Penal code which imposes punishment in the form of imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or fine or both.

In the present matter raised before the Bombay High Court, famous model and Bollywood actress Sakshi Malik (plaintiff) has filed a civil defamation suit against Venkateshwara Creations Pvt. Ltd. for illegally using her photograph in their Telugu film titled “V”. The broadcasting platform, Amazon Prime Video has been directed by the Court to take down the film from its platform within 24 hours.

Following are the facts of the case:

The entire dispute arose when Malik’s image was used in one of the scenes in the film where there is a reference to a commercial sex worker. Malik has claimed that the image that was used in this scene was apparently taken from her Instagram account. Malik then moved to the High Court seeking damages for defamation and permanent injunction.

Her advocates raised a few grounds for granting relief, namely unauthorized invasion of privacy and unauthorized use of private material. There was also a complaint regarding the nature of use as the image was used to suggest an escort or commercial sex worker. It was submitted, hence, that this use of the image amounted to defamation per se.

In their defence, Venkateshwara Creations claimed that they had entered into a contract with a commercial agency for obtaining a suitable image for that particular sequence in the film and that they were assured by the agency that they had legitimate authority to use the image in question.

However, the Judge was not convinced by this submission and agreed with the arguments given by the plaintiff.

The Court held in favour of the petitioner and ordered that, ‘using another’s image, especially private image, in any shape, fashion, or form without her express written consent is prima facie illegal and impermissible. The court ordered not to release the re-edited version of the film without specific order of the Court. Further, it stated that release will be permitted only after the altered portion is shared with Malik and her lawyer. The producers were directed to remove the photos of the movie from Amazon Prime and other platforms too.

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