Rajat Sharma vs. Ashok Venkatramani & Anr: Right to Personality.
The founder of “Rotary club” name Paul P. Harris once said “Personality has power to uplift, power to depress, power to cure and power to bless”. Your personality can make you or the same will take you down. Personality is like the fragrance of a flower, where each flower has a different and unique fragrance; the same way every person has a different and unique personality.
The Delhi High Court, in the case of Rajat Sharma vs. Ashok Venkatramani & Anr has recognised the Personality Right of the plaintiff, Rajat Sharma and also restrained the defendant, Zee Media Corporation from publishing any advertisement in print or electronic media which contain the name of the plaintiff by granting an ad interim injunction.
The defendant, Zee media Corporation had launched a new TV news channel claiming it to be an anchor-free channel to broadcast news. Hence, the channel had started various advertisement campaigns to promote its channel across India with the help of various print and electronic media which also includes the Hindustan times. In order to promote its channel, the defendant intentionally used the name of the various high profile news anchors along with the name of their shows and made some satirical comments about them. Rajat Sharma (the chairman and editor-in-chief of India TV) was one of such personalities. One of the tag lines of the advertisement published by the defendant stated that “India Mein Rajat Ki Adalat Ab Band” which basically meant due to the new launched of this anchor-free news channel, there is no requirement of reporters like Rajat Sharma. Rajat Sharma was offended by the use of his name in the advertisement and filed the suit based on it being misleading and violation of his Personality Right.
The Hon’ble Court observed that the use of the tag line in the advertisement was disparaging and also violates Sharma’s Personality Right. The Hon’ble Court also held that the advertisement was prima facie unlawful. To derive on the judgment, the court also relied upon a few landmark cases and one of them is Titan Industries vs. M/s. Ramkumar Jeweller where the court observed that “the right to publicity extends beyond the traditional limits of false advertising laws”. The Hon’ble Court directed the Zee Media to remove all the hoardings which have the name of the plaintiff, Rajat Sharma.
The right which protects the personality is identified as Personality Right in the common law. Personality Right can be protected by applying the right to privacy under article 21. Any well-known person can use this right for protection of their image or personality from being exploited, misused or misled by others. One’s personality can also be protected under the trademark or copyright laws. A signature, one’s name, pictures are a few examples that can be protected under trademark and copyright.
It is good to be vigilant about your personality, as it is always said: “an ugly personality can destroy a pretty face”. Personality is what judges a person; it is like a shining star where your shine will helps you recognise among hundreds and thousands of people, so one should always be careful to protect it.
Written By: Ms. Mitali Bhatt, Law Intern at S.Bhambri & Associates (Advocates), Delhi.