Prajwal Revanna Controversy

The Prajwal Revanna Controversy: Privacy Violations and Judicial Gag Orders in Karnataka


On May 2, 2024, the Karnataka police booked Hassan MP, Prajwal Revanna on alleged rape charges after numerous explicit videos of women being sexually assaulted by him became public. A day later, the police issued a lookout circular against the “absconding” MP after he failed to appear before the Special Investigation Team (‘SIT’) probing his alleged sexual crimes. To date, two rape cases and one sexual harassment case has been registered against Prajwal. In the lead-up to a few days before the polls, visuals of the alleged sexual abuse by Prajwal were leaked and circulated in Hassan constituency of Karnataka.

The case involving Prajwal Revanna,  son of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, has garnered significant attention, primarily due to serious concerns about privacy violations and the implications of judicial gag orders. This case highlights the delicate balance between the individuals’ right to privacy and the public’s right to information and the, as well the judiciary’s role in regulating media coverage.

Privacy Violations and IT Act Provisions

Central to the controversy are hundreds of sex videos featuring multiple women, circulated in connection with the sex scandal. These videos were disseminated without blurring the faces of the survivors, thereby violating Section 66E of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This provision specifically addresses the punishment for violation of privacy, stipulating that the capture, publication, or transmission of images of a private area of any person without their consent is punishable with imprisonment up to three years or with fine up to two lakh rupees, or with both.

By sharing videos that clearly show the faces of the survivors without blurring them, the victims have been exposed them to potential harm and social ostracism. The Right to Privacy, upheld by the Supreme Court of India as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution, mandates the protection of individuals’ personal information and dignity. By exposing their identities of the survivors without their consent, the videos have exacerbated the trauma of the survivors, and violated their constitutional right to control the dissemination of their personal information and images.

Judicial Gag Order and Its Repercussions

A Gag order is a legal directive passed by the government or the judiciary that restrict the media or any individual from releasing information or comments to the public. These orders aim to protect human health, safety, or public tranquillity by preventing the publication of news that could threaten national security or individual privacy and , are subject to judicial review. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which prohibits assembly of four or more people, should not be used as gag, many gag orders are typically enacted under this section, provided they are used responsibly to preserve law and order. Often, these orders lack a prescribed time limit and can be lifted at the discretion of the government or judiciary, indicating a level of arbitrariness in its enforcement.

In June 2023, Prajwal Revanna sought a gag order from a Bengaluru civil court (‘Court’) against 86 media outlets and three private individuals to stop the spread of what he claimed were “fake news” and doctored videos. On June 2, the Court granted an ex-parte injunction preventing channels from broadcasting content related to the case, citing the potential threat posed by further dissemination of the allegedly “morphed” photos and videos. The grant of this gag order has sparked significant debate about the balance between media freedom and judicial processes. On one hand, freedom of press and media is a constitutional right under Article 19(1)(a) and the media plays a crucial role in informing the public and ensuring transparency in judicial matters. On the other hand, unrestricted media coverage can lead to sensationalism, outrage and media trials.

While the court’s injunction aims to mitigate such risks, it also raises concerns over such picky censorship and the right of the press to report on matters of public interest. The immediate consequence was a chilling effect on the media’s ability to report on the case, resulting in a lack of detailed public information and debate. This situation impacts public accountability and the perceived transparency of the judicial process. Additionally, the ex-parte nature of the order—granted without hearing the media’s side, highlights concern about judicial overreach and the need for balanced judicial discretion.


The Prajwal Revanna case underscores the challenges in navigating the intersection of privacy rights, media freedom, and judicial intervention. The indiscriminate sharing of these videos underscores the urgent need for stringent enforcement of privacy laws and raises questions about the accountability of digital platforms in curbing such breaches. Concurrently, the judicial gag order, while intended to protect the integrity of the judicial process, raises important ethical questions about media’s freedom and the public’s right to information. It calls for a nuanced approach that respects individual privacy, curbs media sensationalism, and maintains public trust in the judicial system.

-By Snehal Khemka ( final year student at the School of law, Christ University, Bangalore )

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