Gujarat HC publishes notices to Google and media

The Gujarat High Court has issued notices to Google India and several media outlets regarding a petition filed by a businessman seeking the removal of news content based on an FIR naming him on the grounds that the case against was canceled for him. The petitioner argued that, like the right to reputation, “the right to be forgotten is also a fundamental right”.

The Divisional Bench of Justices AJ Desai and Aniruddha Mayee issued an opinion to the Central Government, Google India and several daily newspapers on a petition submitted by Rakesh P Rajdev through Barrister Virat Popat. Rajdev described himself in the petition as a “reputable trader and businessman” operating in the city of Rajkot and across India who also has NRI status. The petitioner’s business depends on his “credentials and reputation”.

In October 2020, Ahmedabad Crime Detection Directorate registered an FIR against him and other defendants for cheating. Two months later, the High Court quashed the FIR against him. Rajdev advised the polled newspapers and Google India to “remove URLs/remove articles of a defamatory nature against the caller” since the FIR has already been revoked.

He stated that no action was taken by the respondents, following which he applied to the High Court for appropriate relief. The petition was dismissed by the court on the grounds that “the defendants are individuals and do not come within jurisdiction in writing under Section 226 of the Constitution of India”.

Subsequently, he brought the present motion before the Division Bench with a Letters Patent of Appeal (LPA). He argued in court that the Respondent Newspapers and Google India should “remove the URL/remove the article which was defamatory in nature against the appellant and the FIR has already been revoked.”

He argued that “there is no denying that the right to reputation is a fundamental right. The right to be forgotten is also a fundamental right”.

“The appellant’s fundamental right to privacy is violated in this case. The right to be forgotten is also an integral part of the right to privacy. According to the established legal position, the media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy that performs public operations function and also has a public duty incumbent upon them. In such a context, a writ of mandamus will operate against private respondents,” argued the petitioner.

The court asked the parties to respond to the notices by April 7.

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