Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu (Auto Shankar Case)

Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu (Auto Shankar Case)
Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu (Auto Shankar Case)




Citation: 1995 AIR 264, 1994 SCC (6) 632

Bench Composition: B Jeevan Reddy

No. of judges: 1

Acts Referred:

  • Constitution of India


  • A prisoner convicted of murder wrote an autobiography
  • The autobiography described his relationship with a number of senior prison officers, several of whom were his partners in crime.
  • He gave the autobiography to his wife, with the knowledge of the authorities, who then handed it over to the petitioners’ magazine to publish it.
  • Inspector General of Prisons wrote to the petitioners claiming the autobiography was false, that publication was against prison rules and threatened legal action if they proceeded with publishing.


  • Whether one can prevent another person from writing his autobiography or biography? Does such unauthorized writing infringe one’s right to privacy?
  • Whether the prison officials can prevent the publication of the life story of a prisoner on the ground that the prisoner being incarcerated and thus not being in a position to adopt legal remedies to protect his rights, they are entitled to act on his behalf?


Issues Answered and the Judgement:

  • The Right to Privacy is an independent and distinctive concept originating in the field of Tort law, under which a new cause of action for damages resulting from unlawful invasion of privacy was recognized. This right is infringer in the present case.
  • The judges held that the petitioners have a right to publish, what they allege to be the life story/autobiography of Auto Shankar insofar as it appears from the public records, even without his consent or authorization.
  • There is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.




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