Delhi HC says coach Marijne’s book can’t reveal Gurjit Kaur’s medical issue
The court said the former India coach, a Dutchman, was bound by the code of conduct that bars divulging the information to third parties.
The Delhi high court on Monday restrained former coach of the Indian women’s hockey team Sjoerd Marijne and Harper Collins, publisher of his book ‘Will Power’, from publishing details of the medical condition of penalty corner specialist Gurjit Kaur.
A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Amit Sharma said the author owes a “duty of care” to Kaur, who was in his charge as an international hockey player, at all relevant times. It observed that the coach was bound by the code of conduct which clearly and unequivocally required him not to disclose information entrusted to him in confidence, inter alia, for personal gain or benefit or to damage the reputation of any person.
It said the argument that Kaur’s teammates were privy to her medical condition does not come to the aid of the publisher as prime facie they would also be bound by the code of conduct which precludes them from disclosing or divulging the information to third parties.
“In view of the foregoing, the publishers as well as the author arrayed as respondents 1 and 2 in the present appeal are restrained by an ad-interim injunction from publishing the subject book or any other matter incidental thereto or any other matter related to the subject book in so far as it relates to Gurjit Kaur’s medical condition,” the court said in its interim order.
The order came after Kaur challenged the single judge’s interim decision on September 15 refusing to stay the release of the book. The single judge had said that there cannot be any confidentiality or privacy with regard to the medical condition of a sports personality.
However, granting relief to Kaur, the division bench restrained HarperCollins Publishers India Pvt Ltd and Dutchman Marijne from publishing the book or any related matter so far as it relates to Kaur’s medical condition.
The bench noted that plaintiff Kaur is a celebrated hockey player and one of India’s leading goalscorers at national and international events.
In the book, Kaur submitted, the author proposes to divulge certain confidential information about her medical condition in gross violation of the code of confidentiality by which the author was bound as the coach of the Indian hockey team.
She said her medical condition came to the knowledge of her coach during his tenure with the team. Her counsel told the court that publication of the book disclosing confidential information about her medical condition breached her right to privacy and amounted to violation of the code of conduct of Hockey India to which the author is bound.
The counsel for the publisher argued that there will not be any confidentiality of any sports personality in so far as it relates to the game and that there cannot be any reasonable expectation about it. The counsel said the player’s medical information was already in the public domain.
The court, however, underlined there can be no quarrel with the dictum of the Supreme Court that the right to protection of data such as medical information is one that falls squarely within the domain of reasonable expectation paradigm. It said there was nothing to establish that the medical information contained in the book was or is in the public domain as yet.
The next hearing is on December 7.