Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) died on the night of June 14 2020 under mysterious circumstances. To date, there has been no real progress on the investigation despite the huge public outcry all over the world for months and almost every Indian, including the prime minister of India Narendra Modi expressed shock and grief and sent his condolences to his father and sisters.
Sushant Singh Rajput…a bright young actor gone too soon. He excelled on TV and in films. His rise in the world of entertainment inspired many and he leaves behind several memorable performances. Shocked by his passing away. My thoughts are with his family and fans. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 14, 2020
While there have been allegations against ‘rogue operators’ in Bollywood who allegedly wanted to end his career, there were many who seemed genuinely hurt and angry.
Then there were others who some would say, planned productions to gain from it by telling his story. His fans place the film Nyay: The Justice in that category. The makers Sarala A Saraogi and Rahul Sharma and director Dilip Gulati were quick to come up with the project and in less than a year – while people were still protesting for pace in the investigations into SSR’s death, they started shooting the film in early 2021.
On around March 19, 2021, while caught in the thick of things, Sushant Singh Rajput’s father, Krishna Kishore Singh sought injunctions from the court to stop the making and release of the film.
The father contended that he was the heir of Sushant’s rights and sought an order to permanently restrain the defendants and all others from using SSR‘s name, caricature or lifestyle in any projects or films without the prior permission of the plaintiff, alleging that any such effort would infringe the personality rights of SSR and also cause deception in the minds of the public, which would amount to passing off.
The producers however finished their post production work and were ready to release the film over the OTT platform on June 11, 2021.
The father in desperation, on June 10, 2021 sought an interim (temporary) order of the court to stop the release until his inherited (from SSR) rights issue and his application for permanent injunction was decided by the court.
The court refused to grant the temporary relief and the film was released as scheduled on June 11, 2021.
He appealed the refusal of temporary relief but again lost on June 26, 2021 while his substantive application was pending before the court.
In light of the release of the film and continued streaming of it over the OTT platforms, the father amended his application as required and pursued permanent order against SSR’s celebrity and privacy rights of which he claimed he was the sole inheritor.
Earlier this month, the court delivered a blow to the father and said the rights were only vested in SSR and died with him. The Court told the father that he could not legally inherit private and publicity rights of his son SSR. The court said, when SSR died, those rights died with him.
“The reliefs sought in the plaint are entirely with respect to SSR. The rights that the prayers in the suit seek to protect and the rights of privacy, publicity and personality which vested in SSR. No relief, qua any right which vests in the plaintiff, finds place in the plaint”, Justice C Hari Shankar said.
“The rights ventilated in the plaint – i.e., the right to privacy, the right to publicity and the personality rights which vested in SSR, are not heritable. They died with the death of SSR. The said rights, therefore, did not survive for espousal by the plaintiff”, Justice C Hari Shankar added.
Justice C Hari Shankar said that SSR’s personality rights as well as rights of privacy and publicity got extinguished with his death and these rights are not inheritable to be espoused by his father.
The Court therefore, rejected the application by SSR’s father Krishna Kishore Singh seeking a stay on the continued streaming of the film.
“The information contained, and shown, in the impugned film, is entirely derived from items which featured in the media and, therefore, constitute publicly available information. In making a film on the basis thereof, it could not, therefore, be said that the defendants had violated any right of SSR, much less of the plaintiff, especially as the said information had not been questioned or challenged when it appeared in the media, either by SSR or by the plaintiff. Nor were the defendants required to obtain the consent of the plaintiff before making the movie,” the Court observed.
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