SC bars showing of Monica Bedi's nude photos

NEW DELHI Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:33pm IST

File photo of former actress Monica Bedi arriving at a railway station in Hyderabad, July 18, 2007. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

File photo of former actress Monica Bedi arriving at a railway station in Hyderabad, July 18, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Krishnendu Halder

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Supreme Court barred the media on Friday from showing nude photographs of former actress Monica Bedi, said to have been taken by a camera hidden in the bathroom of the jail where she was imprisoned over a forgery case.

Bedi, who was released on bail from a jail in Hyderabad last month, said the pictures shown by one TV channel on Thursday, whether "genuine" or "morphed", violated her right to life and dignity.

"If indeed the photographs were taken by installing a camera in the bathroom of the prison it was a serious invasion of the right of privacy of the petitioner," her lawyer K.T.S. Tulsi told the court.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan agreed with Tulsi.

"We direct all news channels ... to immediately stop telecasting the offending news item," the court ruled.

Bedi, a small-time actress, was extradited from Portugal along with Mumbai underworld figure Abu Salem in 2005 in a high profile passport forgery case linked to India's worst bomb attacks.

Salem is accused of involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts in 1993 which killed 257 people and is currently facing trial over the attacks. Police say the pair fled the country soon after the blasts.

Bedi was acquitted by a court in Bhopal because the police did not produce adequate witnesses against her. The nude pictures are said to have been taken while she was in jail there.

She was released on bail from jail in Hyderabad pending an appeal after a court sentenced her to five years in prison for a similar offence.

Her lawyer argued that the freedom of press was not an "absolute" right and it could not be misused by TV channels to telecast her nude pictures under the "garb of showing the dismal state of jails".

He also demanded tough action against jail officials.

India does not have separate laws governing privacy, and hidden camera pictures or videos of some Bollywood actresses bathing, changing or canoodling with their companions have been circulated online or as mobile phone messages in the past.

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