Right to Privacy
Respect for privacy is regarded as a Fundamental Right of humans in many international treaties. It is essential for maintaining human dignity and is one of the fundamental components of a democracy. It upholds one’s rights as well as those of other people. Privacy as a concept is not new. The divisions in ancient Greece were called Polis and Oikos, or the public or political world and the private or familial sphere, respectively. The “right” to privacy, on the other hand, is a relatively contemporary concept.
The concepts of privacy and the Right to Privacy are difficult to grasp. Privacy often relates to modern information and communication technologies and is based on the principle of natural rights. The right to privacy refers to our ability to protect the space around us, which includes all we own, such as our bodies, homes, assets, ideas, feelings, secrets, identities, etc.
The Supreme Court has opted to read Article 21 in conjunction with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to broaden its application. The Constitution of India does not expressly support the right to privacy as a core libertarian ideal. In Kharak Singh v. the State of U.P. (1962), when the surveillance of suspects was at issue, the right to privacy came to light.
Right to Privacy in India
The Right to Privacy is one of these rights since the right to life in Article 21 is flexibly defined to cover all parts of a person’s existence that make their life more meaningful. The Supreme Court ruled that Regulation 236 of the UP Police Regulations breached the Constitution because it violated Article 21 of the Indian Constitution in Kharak Singh v. the State of UP (1962), which was the first case to address this issue of the right to privacy.
The Court ruled that the right to privacy is intertwined with the right to preserve individual life and personal liberty. In its ruling, the court linked individual freedom with privacy.
In Maneka Gandhi v. UOI (1978), the court established the triple test for any law restricting individual freedom such as:
- It must outline a process;
- The approach must pass the test of one or more Article 19-granted fundamental rights that might be applicable in a particular circumstance.
- It must pass Article 14 scrutiny.
Right to Privacy Article 21
The Article 21 of the Indian Constitution mentions the Right to life and the Right to personal liberty. Everyone has the right to life and the right to personal liberty, both citizens and noncitizens, according to this article. These two rights cannot be taken away from anyone by the state unless certain conditions are met, as outlined by the Indian Penal Code. Under the K.S. Puttaswamy case, SC held that the right to privacy was also included in the right to life and liberty.
Right to Privacy SC Judgements
Although Article 21 does not mention the right to privacy directly, the Supreme Court of India has expanded the scope of Article 21 in a number of cases. There are other such SC decisions, the most significant are listed below.
AK Gopalan vs the State of UP 1950
The petitioner in this case claimed that the search and seizure operation on his property violated the right to property clause as stated in Article 19 of the Constitution (1). The court, however, rejected the privacy claim, stating that the police action did not interfere with his ability to use his property. The caveat of “reasonable cause,” which provides police with the right to search and seize, was also mentioned by the court.
Kharak Singh vs the State of UP 1963
In this case, the petitioner claimed that the police’s nightly home visits infringed on his constitutional right to travel freely throughout India as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Additionally, the petitioner took issue with the cops following him. The court recognised that the petitioner’s right to live a free and dignified life was violated by the nightly home visits, but it also agreed that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right and that therefore, monitoring his activities did not go against the law.
Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India 2017
The Supreme Court of India unanimously decided during the hearing of a suit that questioned the constitutional legality of the Aadhar-based biometric system that the right to privacy is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution.
The court widened the scope of Article 21 and declared that the right to privacy is also included in the right to life and liberty as guaranteed by that provision. The right to privacy so immediately became a fundamental right following the judgement because Article 21 is covered by Part III of the Indian Constitution, which addresses fundamental rights. Since that time, India has seen the right to privacy as a Fundamental Right of the person.
Right to Privacy Supreme Court’s Aadhar Judgement
Residents have the right to obtain an Aadhaar number under the Aadhaar Act by enrolling and providing biometric and demographic data. The Aadhaar Act’s provisions were scrutinised by the Supreme Court to see if they violated the right to privacy, which the Supreme Court recognised as a fundamental right in 2017. It’s important to note that many services offered by both the government and commercial companies needed users to link their Aadhaar numbers for authentication, effectively making getting an Aadhaar number necessary for the great majority of people.
Because of this, the real dispute was whether this was a legal exception rather than whether it violated someone’s right to privacy. Due to their failure to adhere to the aforementioned proportionality requirement, the Supreme Court invalidated or reduced some provisions of the Aadhaar Act. Aside from these clauses, the Supreme Court determined that the Aadhaar Act functions as a reasonable exemption to the right to privacy since it is appropriate and serves a legitimate state aim.
Right to Privacy Related Government Initiatives
The government has taken steps by enacting laws for the protection of privacy of the Indian citizens which are discussed below:
Information Technology Act of 2000
The Information Technology Act of 2000 is a law in India that governs electronic commerce, digital signatures, and the protection of sensitive information such as personal data. The act was enacted with the goal of regulating the use of electronic communication and digital signatures and providing legal recognition to transactions carried out through electronic means. It offers a defence against some computer system data breaches. It has security measures to stop unauthorised access to computers, computer systems, and the data kept on them.
Personal Data Protection Bill 2019
To establish a Data Protection Authority of India for these purposes and matters relating to an individual’s personal data, as well as to provide for the protection of individuals’ privacy in connection to their personal data. Considering the suggestions made by the B N Srikrishna Committee (2018).
Right to Privacy vs Right to be Forgotten
Everyone has the right to request that any personally identifiable information that is publicly accessible be deleted from databases, websites, search engines, and other public platforms once it is no longer required or relevant.
The Right to be Forgotten (RTBF) rose to prominence as a result of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (“CJEU”) decision in the Google Spain case in 2014. The RTBF was a component of the greater right to privacy in the Indian context, according to the Supreme Court in Puttaswamy v. Union of India, 2017. The RTBF is derived, in part, from the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 21 and the right to dignity guaranteed by Article 14 of Indian Constitution.
Right to Privacy UPSC
The Right to Freedom should be carefully examined by Parliament and the Supreme Court, and a means for balancing the conflicting rights to privacy and freedom of expression should be developed. In the digital age, data is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be unregulated. This situation indicates that India’s time for a robust data protection regime has come.
Article 21 states that a person’s right to privacy is essential to their right to personal freedom. Rights to privacy are not unqualified. They are subject to reasonable restrictions for the defence of crimes, the welfare of the weak, morality, or the defence of other human rights.